Occupied taps into the the global warming paranoia, due to hurricanes and the like that’s happening all around the world. Set in the near future, the USA has become completely self-sufficient with their energy needs, civil wars have put a stop to all oil production on the Arabian Peninsula, causing Europe to be on the verge of an energy crisis and looking for an alternative.
The Norwegian Prime Minister, Jesper Berg (Henrik Mestad), has a solution in the form of their Thorium Powerstation. It means they can stop all oil and gas production and, as the series begins, he tells an expectant crowd of press that it’s all based around a small stone which was found, and subsequently named Thorite, after the Norse God Thor. On the plus side, it’s a climate-friendly energy source, but on the downside, investigative journalist Thomas Eriksen (Vegar Hoel) thinks Norway will be frozen out of the EU with sanctions due to turning away from using fossil fuels.
But it gets worse for them than that as the Russian move in to kidnap Berg in a helicopter, leaving his bodyguard, Hans Martin Djupvik (Eldar Skar), going into action in his police car, trying to tail the chopper and retrieve his boss. In the meantime, the Russians also they take over an oil rig, plus gas and oil fields. The whole stance around building the Thorium plants are using the media and politicians’ best friend – whipping up a climate of fear by telling us that global warming is man-made. I don’t buy it – I think Mother Nature can beat anything we can do. They even changed its name to ‘climate change’ because the warming stopped, and all the world leaders ever manage with their annual Climate Change conferences are to arrange the date for their next two-week pre-Christmas jolly. And how do they get there? By plane! Oh, but they’re telling us that flying is bad, while ensuring 200 world leaders and thousands of staff, press and hangers-on all jet over there when they could arrange meetings via Skype from home.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for alternatives, but if fossil fuels really were the problem to the world, surely the government would give proper backing to renewables, such as providing electic charging points for cars all over the place, and making the cars much more affordable by subsidising the cost? Oh, and leading by example?!
Occupied is a bit like 24, with some episodes taking place over the course of a day, albeit approximately a month apart. That said, it’s more based in reality than the afore-mentioned dramanonsense.
The Russians are getting too cosy when it comes to Norwegian politics, with an increasing number of their clan emigrating to Norway. If I had any complaints, it’s that there are times when the plot feels a bit slow-moving or that it’s bypassing some aspects that we need to see more of. For example, the Russians take over the oil rig as mentioned, but then you don’t see any of the goings on, there, which comes across as rather odd. And the way so many Russians have made Norway their home – yet are so unwelcome – also feels rushed as you don’t get that sense of a bad situation – you just have to assume they’re as dominant as the aliens in ‘V’, since that’s how it feels.
However, I like that when anyone takes a call or uses their smartphone, laptop et al, the relevant information comes up on the screen, to clue us in neatly, without being intrusive. In most dramas, the camera would cut to the devices but this method allows us to see the characters’ instant reactions and cuts the programme together in a much sharper way.
Other key cast members include Russia’s state representative, Irina Sidorva (Mission: Impossible‘s Ingeborga Dapkunaite); Hans Martin’s wife, Hilde (Selome Emnetu); Eriksen’s restaurant-owning wife, Bente (Ane Dahl Torp); his impatient editor, Dag (Øystein Røger); Berg’s wife, Astrid (Lisa Loven); his PA, Anita (Janne Heltberg); and the head of the Police Security Service, Wenche Arnesen (Ragnhild Gudbrandsen), who is told by her doctor to rest and not let her blood pressure be pushed up due to stressful situations. Hmm… she took the wrong job for that!
The series is ‘based on an original idea by Jo Nesbø‘, who wrote the novel for 2011’s Headhunters. I’m not sure how ‘based on an idea’ stands up as a set of words grouped together, compared to him writing it, but it’s still worth your time to watch it.
The film is presented in the original broadcast widescreen ratio which is approximately 2.00:1 (I can’t find confirmation of this online, and the box just states “16:9”), but there are zero defects to the picture and everything is as sharp as required. The sound is in DTS HD 5.1, but it’s mostly drama with dialogue and atmosphere, so while it needs to pep up occasionally, it’s not a special FX reference disc.
As is often the case when there is a mixture of languages spoken and one of them is English, the English dialogue is not subtitled. I would prefer it to still be subtitled. Yes, I can normally hear it but if it’s occasionally being spoken by strong Scandanavian accents, it’s not as easy to make everything out.
When it comes to chapters, these are very few and far between with just four per episode.
The menu mixes clips from the programme with a segment of the closing theme and I think they should’ve used the opening theme – Black & Gold by Sivert Høyem. There’s also a part of the menu background which is static, mirroring what you see on the front cover, and makes it look like Olympus Has Fallen!
As for extras… there are none. This is a great shame. Yes, you get ten episodes over three discs, with four on the first and three episodes apiece on the other two, but they could’ve put some on disc three after putting one of its episodes over to disc 2.
That said, at the time of release, you still have ten very engaging episodes which is currently on Amazon for £24.99 on Blu-ray, and £15.00 on DVD, so it’s well worth a purchase.
Running time: 10 * 45 minutes
Studio: Spirit Entertainment
Released: March 21st 2016
Chapters: 4 per episode
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English, Norwegian, RussianFormat: 2.00:1
Disc Format: 3*BD50
Directors: Erik Skjoldbjærg, Erik Richter Strand, Pål Sletaune, Eva Sørhaug and John Andreas Andersen
Producers: Michael White
Creators: Erik Skjoldbjærg and Karianne Lund
Screenplay: Karianne Lund, Erik Richter Strand, Erik Skjoldbjærg, Harald Rosenløw-Eeg, Jan Trygve Røyneland, Ina Bruhn, Sara Johnsen, Cathinka Nicolaysen, Thorkild Schrumpf, Tomas Solli and Björn Paqualin (based on an original idea of Jo Nesbø)
Music: Nicholas Sillitoe
Theme: Sivert Høyem – Black & Gold
Jesper Berg: Henrik Mestad
Hans Martin Djupvik: Eldar Skar
Bente Norum: Ane Dahl Torp
Thomas Eriksen: Vegar Hoel
Wenche Arnesen: Ragnhild Gudbrandsen
Irina Sidorva: Ingeborga Dapkunaite
Ingrid Bø: Veslemøy Mørkrid
Anita Rygg: Janne Heltberg
Hilde: Selome Emnetu
Astrid Berg: Lisa Loven
Serkin: Sergej Merkusjev
Stefan Christensen: Sondre Larsen
Iljas Musajev: Elishan Naurbiev
Dag Ottesen: Øystein Røger
Orlov: Lenn Kudrjawizki
Jesper Bergs rådgiver: Sajid Malik
Petter Eriksen: Daniel Rusten Larsen
Maja Norum: Kristin Braut-Solheim
Elbek Musajev: Vasambeck Naurbiev
Eivind Birkland: Emil Johnsen
Bent Hole: Mathias Calmeyer
Anne de Vibe: Irina Eidsvold Tøien
Ingvild Friis: Kristin Skogheim
Forsvarsjef: Morten Traavik
Mona Gjerde: Kristi Grundvig
Mari: Annika Hallin
Andrea Djupvik: Ella Malia Prince
Anders Knudsen: Morten Svartveit
Fransk EU-kommisær: Hippolyte Girardot
Geir Buan: Oddgeir Thune
Harald Vold: Stig Ryste Amdam
Finn: Tor Sigbjørnsen
Onkel Aslan: Islam Elsanov
Jasmine Musajev: Tanzilla Naurbiev
Maxim Ivanov: Ivan Petersson
Nikolai: Alexej Manvelov
Terje Rolfsen: Jørn Mortensen
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.