Fortitude – The Next Big Thing?

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock or in a cave or you just don’t pay attention, you’ve probably seen at least one advert for Fortitude, Sky Atlantic’s new drama. Magazines, billboards, TV adverts and all over the Internet, Sky have been pushing the ambitious thriller everywhere they can. Whether it’s polar bears over London or people handing out The Metro wearing Fortitude jackets, you can tell that Sky are taking their newest original series very seriously. The real question is does it live up to the hype?

The drama genre has arguably shifted focus in recent times, with audiences open to more slow-burning stories. Take Broadchurch for example, ITV’s unexpected hit that took the country by storm and had everyone talking. Granted, the second series doesn’t seem to be quite as good so far, but it was always going to be difficult to replicate the original success. US drama has had many cases of taking time to build stories and develop characters, and there’s no greater example of that in recent times than Breaking Bad. It proves that audiences are willing to get invested in a show if there are decent pay offs along the way – and hopefully at the end!Fortitude1

We’re thankfully past the Lost era where audiences became disillusioned with spending time invested in a show where you don’t get a clear resolution. Nowadays a lot of shows have shorter seasons – Broadchurch was only eight episodes for example – and Fortitude seems to be taking this approach with a tight 12-episode series.

What Fortitude already definitely has going for it is a top class cast. Christopher Eccleston follows up his popular roles in Thor: The Dark World and The Leftovers alongside other familiar names such as The Hunger Games’ Stanley Tucci and everyone’s favourite wizard Michael Gambon aka Dumbledore. Fans of Danish show The Killing will recognise Sofie Gråbøl in her first British drama appearance, while the UK’s own Jessica Raine moves from her lead role in Call The Midwife to a much bleaker role here. With Sienna Guillory, Richard Dormer and Luke Treadaway rounding out the cast, you can argue that Fortitude would find it harder to fail than succeed with names like that involved.

Fortitude2With the double-length opening episode airing on 29th January, Fortitude had many people talking. There’s no doubt that filming in Iceland has made for a beautiful and unsettling backdrop to the mysterious story of what happens in the peaceful town of Fortitude. DCI Eugene Morton (Tucci) is brought in from the Met Police to investigate a murder alongside Sheriff Dan Anderson (Dormer). We get to see life unfold in a place where everyone usually feels safe, but Fortitude picks apart this perfect façade, slowly revealing the pieces of a hidden mystery.

It’s hard to tell exactly how good Fortitude is from the opening. There’s no doubt that all the ingredients are there for a successful and intriguing show, but it’s how they’re all put together over the next few weeks that counts. We’re shown just enough strangeness and mystery to keep us interested, there is certainly a cast worth watching, but the story itself remains confusing – more in a ‘what is going on?’ sense than anything. The writers clearly want to drip feed the audience which is a dangerous tactic but could certainly work very well, but that’s something only time will tell. With a large budget and exceptional talent, Fortitude shows promise and is certainly one to watch, but the next couple of episodes are absolutely integral to whether it lives up to its potential or not.

Fortitude airs on Sky Atlantic on Thursdays at 9pm. To find out more about the show visit www.sky.com/tv/show/fortitude