Thursday, November 30, 2023

Twelfth Night in Annika

“Episode #6.1.” By Nick Walker. Perf. Nicola Walker, Jamie Sives,  and Katie Leung. Dir. Fiona Walton. Annika. Season 1, episode 6. Alibi (later, PBS). 21 September 2021. DVD. PBS (Direct), 2022.

Annika is a modern police procedural set in Scotland. It has some things that are typical of the genre—the detective who is good with technology, a tendency toward dark humor, interpersonal conflict that leads to deepening relationships, mysterious deaths, and so on—but what stands out is its decision to have the main detective break the fourth wall so frequently.

Within that, there is often a literary element. Annika often explains to the camera literary plots that connect—sometimes substantially, sometimes tangentially—to the investigation. In the first episode, for example, someone is murdered with a harpoon. Not unexpectedly, we get some Moby-Dick allusions.

At the end of the first season, Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is connected to the episode's plot.

Note: Spoilers follow. Stop here and watch the episode (which I highly recommend) before proceeding.

But the investigation doesn't precisely follow the plot of Twelfth Night. I keep looking for twins, but to no avail. We do get elements of mistaken identity when someone intentionally pretends to be what they're not in order to swindle someone else. In the clip below, you'll see our villain say, "People should just be who they say they are," which could be part of a theme from Twelfth Night.

Here are the relevant Shakespeare-related clips, including a brief reference to Hamlet as a bonus: 

I'm fond of these Shakespearean asides to the audience (Shakespearean in that they deal with Shakespeare but also Shakespearean in reflecting the practice on Shakespeare's stage), even when the well-read Annika gets it slightly wrong. She's right about "petard" meaning, according to the OED, "A small bomb made of a metal or wooden box filled with powder, used to blow in a door, gate, etc., or to make a hole in a wall," but it's etymology is from the French meaning "small firework which makes a loud bang" (which, I suppose, could be stretched to apply to flatulance . . . but I digress).

I'm fond of the show at large. The writing and the literary references are a key part of that, but the plots are intriguing and the characters engaging, and the acting is particularly fine.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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