The Bridge is still under construction

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Diane Kruger and Demián Bichir in The Bridge
The Bridge, which premiered July 10 on the FX Network, is an adaptation of the 2011 Danish/Swedish series, Bron (or Broen), and is the brainchild of TV veterans Meredith Stiehm (NYPD Blue, Cold Case) and Elwood Reid (Undercovers, the Hawaii Five-O reboot). Diane Kruger, best known as the fraulein fatale from Inglourious Basterds, stars as Sonya Cross, an El Paso detective who has Asperger's. While dealing with the "blessing and curse," she rigidly adheres to the law, determined to follow every lead—which makes her an effective investigator. But she's painfully awkward when dealing with victims' families (she apologizes to a widower for failing to "exercise empathy").

Sonya meets her match or, at least, her temporary partner, at the U.S.-Mexico border. The body of a U.S. judge is discovered lying across the Bridge of the Americas, with one half in each country. Sonya wants the case, and muscles out Chihuahua homicide cop Detective Marco Ruiz (Demián Bichir of Weeds and A Better Life). Marco is quickly established as one of the few good cops in Mexico (more on that later). When he bends the rules and allows an ambulance to drive through the crime scene carrying a heart-attack victim and the victim's wife, he makes a bad first impression on Sonya, thereby setting up their odd-couple dynamic. They eventually join forces to investigate the judge's murder, which may be connected to the hundreds of murders of young women in Mexican border towns over a dozen years.

I could chalk up my interest in this show to the wasteland that is the summer TV schedule, or to an impressive pedigree and cast, which includes source material from a well-received European show and an Academy Award-nominated actor (Bichir for A Better Life). But before its premiere, I was tiding myself over with Criminal Minds reruns, and I knew little about the show's production or cast.

No, what drew me in was an ad for a mural contest for the show. It featured a naked, dark-haired woman, facedown in the sand, arms spread, the left one stretched toward mountains, the right one appearing to reach out to the viewer. As a Mexican-American woman, I am familiar with the enormity of the violence occurring at and near the border, so I was intrigued by the notion of a show that might bring attention to these tragedies without sensationalizing them.

But for all its potential, The Bridge is still under construction. Kruger is a shaky lead and often looks lost, even when interacting with her mentor, Lieutenant Hank Wade, played by Ted Levine of Monk (who am I kidding, he'll always be Buffalo Bill). Levine was better utilized in his previous incarnation as a TV detective/mentor. And although the premiere appears to acknowledge the socioeconomic and psychological effects of a border, as well as the hundreds of real-life murders, it also establishes the Mexican police as ineffectual and apathetic at best and corrupt at worst. It's implied that the savior will have to come from the north. But I'll keep watching—both The Bridge and the border.

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