Criminal Season 1: David Tennant led multi-language drama gets a little lost in translation

Criminal Netflix - David Tennant, Hayley Atwell and Youssef Kerkou

Criminal is almost genius in its simplicity (Picture: Netflix)

Netflixs Criminal is definitely unique – and is such a simple concept its almost baffling in its simplicity.

Coming in at 12 episodes, the show is split like an anthology over four countries – each with three stories to tell, but all confined to the same interrogation room, briefing room and hall connecting the two.

The UK, France, Spain and Germany are the hosts for this season, and shows the similarities and differences between the country with their interrogation techniques with the suspects in question.

Throw in their own personal lives and office politics going on through the one-sided mirror, the show examines what it takes to catch the criminal at hand, and also how their day-to-day lives effect their judgement at work.

Annoyingly, British viewers – while there is dubbing available, its a little hit and miss, and doesnt translate word-for-word.



Whats being said on the screen in one language, is not whats being written in the subtitles, and its not whats being said by the dubbers. Granted, theres always a little room for interpretation when directly translating from one language to another, but the difference between subtitles and dubbing can be especially distracting from the show at hand.

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If youre able to, try and watch in the native tongue with subtitles. Its the most emotive with the English dubbing version veering into sounding a little like an audiobook on some occasions.

Its a bold move to try, and Criminal definitely has potential to keep going, if the team behind the show can figure out a format to stick to that can truly be universally received.

Seeing as the series is split, heres how each section of the series measures up against each other…

Criminal UK

In the UK installments, the personal lives of the detectives arent fleshed out enough to follow properly (Picture: Netflix)

United Kingdom – 3.5/5

The UK episodes focuses a lot on what actually constitutes guilty and the measures that people take in order to secure their own safety.



In the detectives seats are an all-star cast by veterans of the UK crime drama scene – Katherine Kelly (Cheat), Lee Ingleby (Innocent/Line Of Duty) and Rochenda Sandall (Line Of Duty).

But their suspects, are the stars of the show – with David Tennant, Hayley Atwell and Youssef Kerkour sitting in the interrogation chair for one episode a piece.

Tennants efforts as the man that may or may not have killed his stepdaughter is the strongest episode, but the others arent far behind. However after a while the intensity just isnt there as much as it should be, and it kind of lets the side down..

Also the personal lives of the detectives are a little clunky, and leave viewers feeling like they missed something in translation.

Only three episodes makes it a super easy watch for crime drama fans, without you getting too deeply involved.

Criminal France (Picture: Netflix)

The French installments are by far the strongest of the lot (Picture: Netflix)

France – 4/5

Frances instalments have balanced out the case vs personal life plotlines in a much more satisfying way than the UK version.

Throwing in the tale of someone who may or may not have been at the Bataclan attacks makes you sit up and pay attention to these, and the crimes of passion that the three episodes follow through are gripping.

In these episodes, while you want to know whats going on with the case, youre also brought in by the dynamic of the team – which is led by a female newcomer much to the annoyance and anger of the seasoned cops who have to work underneath her.


Tense and sad, there were a couple of points where you as a viewer may reach a conclusion quicker than the detectives do, which lets it down a little, but theres enough plot twists to push you through without worry.

Really solid three episodes.

Criminal Spain

Criminal Spain shows the influence the outside world can potentially have on a case (Picture: Netflix)

Spain – 3/5

The Spanish enquiries are definitely the most varied of the lot – starting with a Crufts-obsessed woman and ending with a man who has been escaping the law for years.

It deals with outside influences on the interrogation more than the others… with the illicit relationship of the leading detective and her second in command causing a rift within the squad.

In the actual room, the group seriously err on the side of bullying tactics at times, as opposed to getting the right justice for that singular case.

The cast are good but the scripts feel slight, and in a couple of cases were uncomfortable to watch, almost like we were viewing a completely different show to the two alternate language versions of the series viewed before it.

While they certainly made griRead More – Source