The Swingers, Channel 4 | reviews, news & interviews
The Swingers, Channel 4
The Swingers, Channel 4
In Dutch it was called 'The Neighbours'. Does the translated title deliver?
Can something be gained in translation? From its title The Swingers promises much. Much more than the original Dutch title Nieuwe Buren, which the caption in the opening credit sequence translates as The Neighbours. Someone in syndication has asked themselves the question: who the hell watches Dutch TV dramas called The Neighbours (aside from captive Dutch audiences)? And made the decision to pep things up for the international audience.
It’s a bold change. Will the show come good on the promise of what in the patriarchal 1970s they used to call wife-swapping? Channel 4 is positioning it as Fatal Attraction in Dutch suburbia. The eponymous swingers introduced in the first episode hail from the scorching end of Dutch Equity, a bunch of talking catalogue models with all the right ripples and tresses. The setting is a housing estate on the outskirts of Amsterdam, ones with tall wide windows like in all those Nordic dramas where everyone knows everyone else’s business. The newbies planning to move in are rock journo Peter and heavily pregnant Eva. Eva is super-gorgeous but Peter can’t help casting an eye across the way to hot exercise coach Rebecca while her lissom detective husband Steef is sending looks back in the other direction (Rebecca and Steef pictured below)They haven’t met yet, but we know from the creepy opening sequence that they will fall out. A man in a clown outfit is walking Rebecca and Steef’s little daughter through the woods, only to discover blood slithering down the French windowpanes. Who the blood donor is anyone's guess. Early hopes rest on stubbly Steef, a corrupt policemen covertly profiteering from drug busts and generally throwing his weight about on a fast throaty motorbike.
In other news, Eva’s waters break as she’s teaching her adorable reception class, and her daughter is born (rather graphically) 10 weeks early, and doesn’t make it to the end of the episode. Eva can’t expect much love and support from her dour, devout parents, while Peter the rock journo has jealous rage issues, plus he’s not quite as good-looking as Steef, so there’s one volcanic eruption in waiting. The other neighbours include an obsessive old peeping tom called Jasper. He's a fish out of water in Rebecca’s al fresco fitness classes, who works as an accountant at home while looking after his invalided wife.
How gripping is all this? So far, not very. The characters have been scrupulously supplied with a kind of chemistry set of potentially explosive issues. But the fact that the main quartet are so absurdly easy on the eye underpins the feeling that it’s all a bit superficial. The ensuing episodes will no doubt deliver on the plot spoiler embedded in its English-language title. There are nine of them, all available to binge-view on All4. As things stand, the English title looks like a case of mis-selling.
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