Ultraviolet (2018, Swedish)

5 out of 5

Created by: Wendy West

covers season 1

Dang, kids, it’s been a bit since I’ve so willfully binged an entire series (that wasn’t a “okay, I just have to get through this…” type of commitment), and especially once that I can’t qualify with any kind of “it’s actually a very deep and rich show” tack-ons; nope, Ultraviolet is exactly what it promises from episode #1: amateur internet sleuths under the banner of website Ultraviolet investigating (and spoiler: solving) cases the cops have otherwise ignored.  There are no heavy-handed contemplations on the invasiveness of technology, no intrusive romantic subplots, no last minute twists to tie everything together; it’s a procedural.  And yet it moves past the stuffy confines of most procedurals by having a good memory – each case successfully fleshes out our characters’ skillsets and they do refer back to / recall what’s been done or said before – and by organically entwining character development into the episodes.  So there’s no bottle episode where we focus on Ola (lead actress Marta Nieradkiewicz, whose point of view we follow when she gets obsessed over a cop-proclaimed suicide she feels is murder in the first episode), rather her past informs her actions, and when it makes sense, those details surface to the fore.  Same goes for the rest of the “team” – fashion experts Regina and Dorota, tech guy Piast, de facto leader Tomek, reluctant police contact Michal, and general-knowledge and handyman Henryk.

…Which opens up one of the more engaging, and yet perhaps silly aspects of the show: that Ultraviolet is suggested to be a growing organization, and yet we only really ever interact with these characters, and they’re not drop-in / drop-outs – they’re involved in every case.  Silly because the series so willfully jumps in to this team setup, but engaging because, as to the positives mentioned above, the writers weave in enough grounding details to make you believe that everyone has a life outside of this, and yet that it’s important enough to be a complete passion for all of them as well.

And the cases are fun!  There’s the occasional spot-the-badguy ploy that any seasoned TV viewer won’t be shaken by, but mostly the series competently employs technological mumbo-jumbo to weave around official police procedures.  The tech certainly isn’t at Mr. Robot levels of realism, but it is quite beyond Person of Interest, the early seasons of which I would definitely consider as an influence; that is, it’s dressed up and simplified, but believable.

I gave the show several opportunities to back out and become crappy, but at each of those chances, it proved me wrong.  And I’ve got ten hours straight of flew-by viewing time to prove it.

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