Two seasons – the first one is set in 1980’s, the second one in 1997 / more or less 12 years after the first season’s finale ends.
The story is set in an unspecified little town in Western Poland with troubled history.
Andrzej Seweryn plays an experienced journalist on his way out – we learn from the very beginning he has a plan to go West – to West Berlin, in those times the refuge of normalcy behind the Iron Curtain. Conveniently, there is an eager young replacement sent from Kraków.
It is a classic old:young juxtaposition and master:pupil relationship. The script is written in accordance with all the classic rules, the actors are well cast, the stories unfold slowly with each episode drawing us in.
This series has a number of strong suits: one of them is the casting of supporting roles, another a detailed depiction of communist Poland daily reality – similarly to Mad Men, the authors managed to recreate a place in time with almost no mistakes (*there is one minor thing related to what children wear at school, if you went to Polish school in the 1980’s, you will know).
Characters are subtle and distinctive at the same time, the editor-in-chief is like a warm beloved grandpa, until you cross him and then you are in trouble. The night clubs are so sticky and filled with cigarette smoke, you can almost touch it and smell it. It is the underworld of corrupt police (in the 1980’s it was a politicised milicja – derivative of military and police – a communist thing), honest prostitutes and helpful local businessmen.
The crimes are dark, the truth is even darker and the town is surrounded by a mysterious swamp that hides a lot.
Although it did not get a lot of stars at imdb, it is a strong recommend from my side.
Andrzej Seweryn acts seamlessly becoming the character of the savvy puppet master who knows way more than he reveals, till the last second. The suspense is not eating you, you just have to watch it all at once.