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TV REVIEW: Borgen Episodes 5 And 6 - And An Increasingly Isolated Birgitte

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This week saw Birgitte develop her most ambitious political strategy yet, trying to keep all the strands of Danish government involved. One of them was always going to fall out of the bed Birgitte had built, and by the end she was in it all by herself. The lesson, you can’t please everyone any of the time.

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As the series continues to explore the themes of compromise versus ideals, it strikes me that, just as 'The West Wing' should be required viewing for any student of American politics and its history, or in fact anything, so 'Borgen' is a living, breathing manual of European politics, and just what’s required to build packages across coalition governments.

This week's English words: perfect, crime, antidepressants, mail box, stop

And fortunately, lest it all prove too confusing, 'Borgen' helpfully provides a guide in the form of TV1's political director Torben, on hand to explain everything to his audience (by which, read us). Of course this all sounds incredibly dry, but any fan of 'Borgen' knows it makes for surprisingly engrossing viewing.

If Birgitte was having a tough time at work, things were going even less well at home where her negligence of daughter Laura culminated in a personal disaster with the angelic Cecelie once again stepping in and making the Prime Minister look bad. Oh well, at least she got to sack the brick-faced Jytte - finally.

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Her jack-of-all-trades underling Kasper, looking more like a mournful Shnauzer puppy than ever, was making a bad job of keeping his relationship together and his mitts off old love Katrine. All this, while his past demons threatened to overwhelm him once again, until he finally revealed his worst nightmares to Katrine. There was some amazing acting going on here, his heartbreaking vulnerability and her compassion clearly evident through the subtitles.

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Meanwhile, one of the great things about this series has been the growing bond between Katrine and drunk journo Hanne. A useful test to see if any TV show passes muster for female equality is to ask... is there more than one female lead character? Do they appear in scenes on their own without chaps? Do they talk about more than just boys and makeup? From their scenes in cafes to secret meetings in the newsroom, Katrine and Hanne pass this test with flying colours. Now if only poor, increasingly isolated, Birgitte could join their gang…

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