For fans of the best TV dramas from around the world there’s very definitely a new kid on the block and one you might not be particularly aware of – at least in the UK – unless you’ve been paying very careful attention. Sundance Now has been quietly adding to its catalogue of foreign dramas since its UK launch last year and has recently announced the acquisition of two high profile Scandinavian series which ought to grab the attention of more potential subscribers.
The Restaurant (Vår tid är nu) is a Swedish period drama which begins at the very end of World War II and follows the Löwander family, which runs one of Stockholm’s most popular restaurants, through the subsequent decades. It was initially commissioned for 20 episodes (2 seasons of 10) but it was such a hit at home that it was quickly renewed for a third season which is due to air at the end of 2019. The first season won the Kristallen (award for Best Swedish TV drama) beating the final season of The Bridge as well as other highly regarded series like Greyzone and The Lawyer. The series has been available on Sundance Now in the United States since 6 December 2018 and is set to be added to the UK service this Thursday (17 January). Here’s a trailer.
Stella Blómkvist is a new Icelandic crime drama based on the first in a series of books about a hard-nosed lawyer who takes on mysterious murder cases. The six episode series stars Heida Reed (Poldark) as a character described by head writer Jóhann Ævar Grímsson in an interview with Variety as “kinda like Sam Spade, with a law degree and sexuality”. The series will launch on Sundance Now in the US on 31 January with the UK launch currently set for April (exact date TBC). Here’s a trailer
How do I watch Sundance Now in the UK?
At the moment the only way to subscribe to Sundance Now in the UK is as an Amazon add on channel. This means you have to be a subscriber to Amazon Prime or Prime Video (£7.99 a month for Prime or £5.99 a month for Prime Video – both after a 30 day free trial) first and then purchase an add on subscription (£5.99 a month after a 7 day free trial) to Sundance Now. My personal advice to the owners of Sundance Now (or to be more specific to the owners of AMC Networks who own Sundance Now) would be to try to make your service available directly on as many other platforms as possible too as in this era of every growing streaming service options and savvy consumers not everyone wants to be obliged to subscribe to another service to get to yours.
What other international dramas does the service have already?
The Bureau (Le Bureau des Légendes) – Seasons 3 & 4. This series: which follows the activities of the DGSE, the department of the French secret service which manages the missions of all undercover operatives working under fake identities to identify intelligence sources, is one of the best spy dramas and one of the best French dramas of all time. Seasons 1 & 2 are on Amazon Prime in the UK although Sundance Now in the US has the rights to all 4 seasons. Season 3 trailer (beware spoilers if you’ve not seen the first two seasons).
Dead Lucky (Australia). “Crime thriller about two very different detectives thrown together to solve a murder. A house of international students thinks that they have found paradise. A couple of convenience store owners resort to deadly measures to defend their business. And a violent fugitive is in hiding. Over a week, the paths of these characters collide, leaving two people dead and one missing”. Official Trailer.
Jailers (Carcereiros) (Brazil). “A jailer in a São Paulo penitentiary, Adriano deals with problems of the system, putting his principles to the test and risking his own personal life”. Official Trailer.
Rosehaven (Australia) – 2 seasons. “Daniel (Luke McGregor) returns to his rural Tasmanian hometown to help his mother with her real estate business. To his surprise, his best friend Emma (Celia Pacquola) turns up on his doorstep on the run from her marriage”. Trailer from ABC Australia.
Trepalium (France). “A high concept thriller set in the very near future : After decades of crisis, work has become a rare and vanishing commodity. Now, only 20% of the population have a job, 80% are out of work”. Official Trailer.
Wasteland (Pustina) (Czech Republic). “Set in a remote village in the bleak landscape of Northern Bohemia, WASTELAND tells the story of the aftermath of what happens when a local girl goes missing under suspicious circumstances”. Trailer from HBO Europe.
The above only lists international (non-British/US) content that premiered in the UK on Sundance Now but it’s worth noting they also have the first six seasons of the fabulous French crime drama Spiral (Engrenages) which obviously aired here on BBC Four initially and also their own critically acclaimed US original series This Close which follows two deaf best friends as they try to balance their personal and professional lives.