These 7 TV shows on Netflix, Hotstar will ensure your travel fix in the time of coronavirus
Have money, will travel may well have been your mantra, but coronavirus has put a stop to that. With most of us social distancing and under lockdown to ward off COVID-9, vacations seem a long time ago. And a long time away.
But could there be a better time to combine two of your loves – travel and the telly? We suggest you stream compelling shows where the location plays a starring role.
Be it the distinctive terrain of subarctic UK archipelago Shetland, the colourful houses of Reykjavík in Iceland, the crashing waves that symbolise moods in Monterey, California, or the stunning architecture of Sweden’s jewel Malmo, we list seven exciting shows that, apart from keeping you engaged for hours, are sure to fuel your wanderlust.
Shetland – Scotland, UK
Detective Inspector Jimmy Pérez has his task cut out on this gorgeous subarctic archipelago in the Northern Isles of Scotland. Accompanied by Detective Sergeant Alison “Tosh” Macintosh, and Detective Constable Sandy Wilson, he must solve the astonishing number of crimes that are uncovered in these remote islands located between Great Britain, the Faroe Islands, and Norway.
And while the police team goes about its job, it’s easy to fall in love with the former Zetland, which straddles its Scottish and Norse heritage with ease.
Loosely based on novels by Ann Cleeves, the series showcases all that Shetland is known for – the guttural Scottish burr, graphic beaches, awe-inspiring landscapes, and an astonishing range of wildlife and birdlife.
The islands, as far north as St Petersburg, Russia, or Anchorage, Alaska, seem to be a nature lover's paradise.
Get your culture fix too as the series spotlights Up Helly Aa, 12 fire festivals held annually in Shetland from January to March to mark the end of the yule season.
The Valhalla Murders – Iceland
This eight-episode police procedural is said to be Iceland's most expensive TV series and the first Icelandic series to be featured on Netflix. Veteran cop Kata is passed over for promotion, but overcomes her disappointment to team up with a Norwegian crime expert to solve a series of brutal murders across Iceland.
Could a serial murderer be biding his time to get back for unspeakable crimes committed at Valhalla, a home for boys from broken families?
According to Norse mythology, Valhalla, a majestic hall in Asgard, is ruled over by Odin and is where he receives heroes slain in battle. This series makes it a house of horrors that the cops must navigate, but they traverse over snowy, harsh landscapes as they get the job done.
Things kick off in Reykjavík, which was founded in 1785 as an official trading town and is now the world's northernmost capital.
The low, colourful buildings surrounded by black rock faces hide a gritty underbelly, and are surrounded by breathtaking wilderness. Kata and her partners soon make their way to Borgarnes, a small, seemingly sleepy town located on a peninsula at the shore of Borgarfjörður. But, all’s not what it seems to be in this Nordic island country!
Broadchurch - Dorset, UK
David Tennant and Olivia Colman come together to make magic in this Brit crime drama that changed the way we viewed police procedurals – and the role that the setting played.
When the body of 11-year-old Danny Latimer is found on the beach in Broadchurch, police officers DI Alec Hardy and DS Ellie Miller must combine forces to find the killer in the close-knit community.
And as the two cops go about their business, creating ripples in the fictional town of Broadchurch, the stunning locations across south-west England, including West Bay and Bridport in Dorset and Clevedon in North Somerset, sparkle.
The craggy cliffs, the deep blue of the sea, the frilly waves lapping at the coast, the birds taking flight…at one point, you can almost taste the salt in the air.
Broadchurch creator and writer Chris Chibnall has said the series’ location was partly inspired by the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, where he lived. And we know why when we see the dramatic East Cliff and the stunning Harbour Cliff beach (where the body was found in the opening sequence of the show).
Producer Dan Winch clearly knew he had a winner on his hands. “What is unique about Broadchurch is it is a beautiful reflection of landscape, and it’s a dark thing happening in a beautiful place, and that flows through the humour we try and find, particularly between Ellie and Hardy’s characters.”
Fans can even enjoy Visit Dorset’s Broadchurch trail and discover key locations from all three series.
Big Little Lies - Monterey, California, US
Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, and Zoë Kravitz may be the headliners of the TV adaptation of Liane Moriarty's novel, but the setting - California's Monterey Peninsula - is the top star.
The novel was originally set in a fictional Sydney, Australia, suburb, but showrunner David E Kelley decided to move the show to California. Problems arise, tempers are lost, loyalties erode, and relationships hang in the balance as the Monterey Five struggle to keep a secret that may bring them all down.
But the scenic locales – and the continual windswept contemplation of the crashing waves – keeps us as spellbound as the compelling storyline.
Executive producer Gregg Fienberg in an interview said the team wanted to “make an American version of the story, and specifically in California” as it matches the feel and tone of the book's locale. “Monterey is one of the most beautiful areas in the world, and probably the most beautiful spot on the California coastline, so it was the perfect match.”
The peninsula, which includes the towns of Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Carmel, throws up some stunning sights: Bixby Bridge and Highway 1, Garrapata State Park and Beach, Old Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Lover's Point Park, and Del Monte Beach.
Kelley said they were looking to draw the audience in and “have them say, ‘I want to go there on vacation’”. All we can say is mission accomplished!
Hinterland – Wales, UK
The Welsh noir police drama has done for Wales what Broadchurch did for Dorset. Richard Harrington stars as troubled and brooding Detective Chief Inspector Tom Mathias, who leaves London behind for the bucolic landscapes of the countryside. Accompanied by Mali Harries as Detective Inspector Mared Rhys, he must unravel the dark secrets the beautiful and freezing land holds.
Hinterland is set in Aberystwyth, which literally means “Mouth of the Ystwyth” and is an ancient market town situated near the confluence of the Ystwyth and the Afon Rheidol. The series is the first BBC television drama shot in both English and Welsh.
According to the makers, the key to Hinterland is the landscape and its character: “beautiful, forbidding, and secretive”.
“The sense of place is crucial. It feels like a part of the UK that is untapped and undiscovered,” said Ed Talfan, writer and co-producer, in an interview.
The creator of the series, Ed Thomas, award-winning playwright and creative director at Fiction Factory, concurred. “It's a part of Wales that had not been photographed, a sort of last place somewhere in the northern part of Europe that people don't know much about – a hinterland rich in history and myth.”
The Killing – Copenhagen, Denmark
There’s a reason that Nordic Noir continues to captivate us. The compelling plotlines and dark characters have as much to do with it as the cold and brooding landscapes.
Created by Søren Sveistrup, The Killing is a much-acclaimed Danish police procedural TV series. It has won a legion of fans, numerous awards (including a BAFTA), and was also remade into an American version.
Police Commissioner Sarah Lund (Sofie Gråbøl) is racing against the odds – and multiple dark secrets and unimaginable twists – to solve the brutal killing of a high school student. Somehow, along the way, she also manages to make a patterned jumper a fashion statement.
The gorgeous capital of Denmark, replete with royal history, modern architecture, and cultural hotspots, grabs the spotlight in this gritty thriller. Locations that stand out include Ryvangen Memorial Park, City Hall, Christiansborg Palace, Police HQ St Simon’s Church, and Vesterbro. The ominous skies, the beauteous buildings, and nature at its best – they’re the perfect companions to the never-say-die cop.
The Bridge – Malmo, Sweden
Nordic noir dominates our list, and it’s easy to see why. The Bridge, created and written by Hans Rosenfeldt, was a joint production between Sweden's Sveriges Television and Denmark's Danmarks Radio. The popular series has been shown in more than 100 countries till now.
This series has you from the word go. It begins with the discovery of a body exactly on the centre of Øresund Bridge, which links Malmö in Sweden with Copenhagen, Denmark, necessitating a joint investigation.
Sofia Helin takes charge as Swedish police detective Saga Norén, and is accompanied by Kim Bodnia as Martin Rohde and Thure Lindhardt as Henrik Sabroe, her Danish counterparts.
The Øresundsbron is the 10-mile road and rail bridge (the world’s longest cable-stayed main span); you can take a train or drive over it, but can’t walk across. This means re-enactments are a no-go.
Malmo is the third largest city in Sweden, and is renowned for its architecture. Apart from the bridge, scenes are filmed in Västra Hamnen, a modern district; Sankt Johanneskyrkan, the church at Kapellgatan; and Ankargatan.
Other locations include Ribersborgs Kallbadhus, the open-air baths; Malmö Live, a hotel and event centre, and the Margareta Pavilion in Pildammsparken. Årstiderna by the Sea, a restaurant known for its New Nordic cuisine, is also on the menu.
In Copenhagen, the locations include Politigården at Polititorvet, Blågårdsgade, and Örestad Gymnasium.
...and a few more options
Still not willing to hang up those travelling shoes? We suggest you spend some time with The Trial (Italy), Dark (Germany), The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (New York), Wallander (Sweden), Black Spot (France), Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (Melbourne), and Deep Water (Sydney).