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The Best Foreign Television Series on Netflix: "The Fall" and "The Protectors"

A devotee of entertainment and the arts, the author manages netTVwatch, a blog that follows foreign TV shows on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.

Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson

Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson

Two of the best crime dramas on television cannot be found on your local TV or cable stations. For viewers that have ditched their cable or satellite service in favor of streaming shows from Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu Plus, this is welcome news. Given the high additional cost of premium channels such as HBO and Showtime, which typically have the best shows, it’s nice to know that there is excellent television available for about $8 per month.

The Fall

"The Fall" is a BBC produced series set in Northern Ireland. It follows police DSI (Detective Superintendent) Stella Gibson, played by Gillian Anderson of "The X-Files" fame, who has been brought in from London to help with an unsolved murder case. The situation soon escalates; another murder occurs, and it becomes apparent that there is a serial killer at large.

It is not a spoiler to say that the identity of the killer is revealed in the first episode. Despite this unusual approach, the suspense and tension levels remain high and, in fact, increase with each episode. The show effectively juxtaposes scenes from the killer’s life with other elements of the story. What seems to be a side story gradually becomes more relevant to the central case.

Anderson is excellent in this role. Her character contains elements of Glenn Close from "Damages" and Helen Mirren from "Prime Suspect." (The show’s writer, Allan Cubitt, was part of the original "Prime Suspect" team.) DSI Gibson is tough, demanding and not always likable. Though she does not appear to have much of a personal life, her actions outside of work still manage to become entangled with the case. "The Fall" has a strong cast of supporting actors, including Archie Panjabi from "The Good Wife" and Jamie Dornan (yes, the guy from 50 Sheades of Grey), who plays serial killer Paul Spector. As with many European shows, the characters seem more realistic than those portrayed on U.S. TV.

"The Fall" is gripping television; you are likely to binge watch the series. As of this writing, the five-episode first season, which was released in 2013, is available for streaming on Netflix.

"The Fall" season 2 began production in early 2014 and was completed a few months later. It aired on BBC TV late in 2014, and as of January 2015 is available on Netflix in the U.S. With the release of the six-episode second season, "The Fall" has, deservedly, become more of a high-profile TV show.

Both Anderson and Cubitt have hinted that "The Fall" season 3 may happen, but there have been no official announcements or dates released.

The Fall - BBC 2 Trailer

The Protectors publicity photo

The Protectors publicity photo

Update: Available shows on Netflix and other streaming services change as contracts expire, are renewed or renegotiated, often with little or no warning. As of late 2014, "The Protectors" is no longer available for instant viewing on Netflix, but is available on Hulu. It is worth seeking out.

The Protectors

"The Protectors" is another foreign police and crime television series. Set in Denmark, it follows an elite police unit, similar to the United States Secret Service, that provides bodyguard protection for elite politicians, visiting dignitaries and high-profile public figures.

The show focuses on three central characters, Rasmus, Jonas and Jasmina, played by Søren Vejby, André Babikian and Cecilie Stenspil, respectively, who are all members of the P.E.T. (Protectors) unit. Most episodes of "The Protectors" are fast-paced with a moderate level of suspense and intrigue maintained throughout. The primary story lines often involve global politics and contain some violence, though with much less blood than American TV fans are used to seeing. In addition, the relationships between the characters evolve and are featured more as the series continues.

As with "The Fall," characters in "The Protectors" seem realistic and true to life. Overall, the cast is less glamorous and more diverse than one would see on similar shows in the U.S.

Available on Netflix, "The Protectors" has two seasons, each with ten episodes. Primary storylines typically last for two episodes. Some of the side stories and personal relationships between the main characters play out over much longer arcs. To provide fair warning, it should be noted that the show is subtitled. While not as tightly written or effectively produced as "The Fall," "The Protectors" is still highly recommended for those interested in expanding their television horizons. The contrast in cultures and changes in scenery are part of what makes foreign television interesting. Put both of these shows on your Netflix TV shows list.

The Protectors Trailer

© 2013 chet thomas


chet thomas (author) from Athens, GA on May 10, 2014:

She is very good in this show. I'm eagerly awaiting the next season. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Mackenzie Sage Wright on May 10, 2014:

Awesome, I'm willing to give anything with Gillian Anderson a go, she's fabulous. Thanks!

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