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Review: OccupiedAired Wednesday 13th January at 9pm on Sky Arts (193) | Rating: ★★★½



The Kremlin hasn’t been too happy about this big new drama, but they should really simmer down. This is new espionage and invasion thriller is a bit too silly to be taken seriously.

In a nutshell

Jo Nesbo is one of the biggest names in crime fiction. To draw a completely irrelevant analogy, if the world of literary sleuthing was fast food, he’d be McDonald’s. In a good way. It does seem, though, that geopolitics is perhaps not his forte. Springing forth from his mind, Occupied is certainly an ambitious drama, taking on the big nightmarish themes of today. Climate change, imperialism, European instability, dark political conspiracies… it’s all here. But too much so. Subtle this ain’t.

The scenario is more or less preposterous, doing its level best to make Norway look like the hapless victim of pretty much everyone else on Earth. Basically, the country’s environmentally conscious refusal to produce oil and gas has caused Russia to mount an invasion, backed up by EU partners. Which explains why (real life) Russian officials have voiced dismay/outrage over the show. But, on the strength of this opening chapter, Occupied lacks the sober nuance to really alarm us. It’s hard to imagine even a leader like Putin mounting such an outlandish offensive, so it’s not really any more disturbing than, say, a James Bond thriller. 

What’s the verdict?

While real-world Russia may have many of us slightly worried about things, Occupied is just a rip-roaring piece of telly entertainment, rather than a dire warning. And in that sense, it works. Consider us hooked.

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