TV Review: Pivot Has A Gritty New Crime Show In Fortitude

Created by Simon Donald (Low Winter Sun), Fortitude is a new crime drama produced in partnership with Sky Atlantic and set to premiere in numerous markets including the US on the fairly new cable channel Pivot.

Fortitude is a 12 part series detailing a murder that rocks the small Arctic outpost, the show’s namesake, more accustomed to the occasional bear attack. While the murder mystery takes center stage, Fortitude also concerns itself with mysterious illnesses, strange artifacts discovered in the snow, infidelity, and political intrigue. All of this is set against a bleak, cold landscape that highlights the claustrophobic tone of the show that reminds me of the Christopher Nolan thriller, Insomnia.

The amount of attention given to creating the world of Fortitude gives the show much in common with Twin Peaks, another mystery set in a small town with its share of secrets. There are many surreal touches to Fortitude, although none that rival the Lynchian weirdness of Twin Peaks. This detailed portrait of life on the outpost often threatens to slow the pacing of the show to a crawl. However, with the right amount of patience, it’s easy to give yourself over to the show’s central mystery, which seems tightly plotted despite the pace.

Fortitude also boasts a stunning cast. Making his debut on British television, Stanley Tucci radiates an understated strength DCI Morton, a forensic investigator whose arrival on Fortitude is oddly timed. Morton has the usual run-ins with local law enforcement, mainly with Sheriff Dan Anderssen, played with wonderful tension by Richard Dormer (Game of Thrones). The Killing’s Sofie Grabol is Hildur Odegatd, mayor of Fortitude, keen to break ground on a tourist hotel, but met with opposition from Christopher Eccleston’s Professor Stoddart, who make a startling discovery as part of the Fortitude arctic Research Centre. We also get some wonderful scenes from Michael Gambon as the haunted and terminal Henry Tyson, who is trying to deal with his past while facing a short time left to live.

I found Fortitude to be the kind of show that slowly gets its hooks into you. Sure, the episodes move slowly, something strongly felt in the series two hour opener. But you know Fortitude did its job right when the episode ends, and you want the next one straightaway. I recommend not missing out on this one.

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