When you think of things like the US State Department, the CIA, West Asia, the Middle East, and television; it seems likely that you might think I’m referencing the Showtime TV series Homeland. And you’d be right.
Now if I change it up a bit to a Western Europe nation, A Foreign Minister heading up something similar to our own State Department but called The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, instead of a CIA let’s toss in a Military Special Forces unit (something similar to our own Army Rangers or Navy Seals, then specifically refer to Afghanistan, and put it on television – what might I be referring to?
The answer is Norwegian TV series that came out in 2016 called Nobel. This series is currently airing on the Netflix streaming service. The series stars Norwegian actor Aksel Hennie as Erling Riiser. He’s a member of the Norwegian Special Forces and as the series opens, he and his men are stationed at a forward operations base somewhere in Afghanistan.
They are enjoying some downtime, so Erling makes a Skype call to his son who is at home in Oslo. Then they get an alert – intel suggests that there might be a suicide bomber who will enter the town square market the next day.
So the platoon heads for town to set up roof top surveillance with shot lines from all four sides of the square. And that’s your opening.
This is an exciting series and trust me it is not just about the military. For one thing, Erling’s wife Johanne works in the Foreign Ministry. She reports directly to the Foreign Minister.
Norway is trying to do an oil deal with a big land owner in Afghanistan who is called Sharif Zamani. But the Norwegian are facing stiff competition for the rights to the oil from the Chinese.
A friend of Johanne’s has begun a program in Afghanistan called Fruit for Life, but there’s a distinct possibility that this might be a front for contraband drugs operation.
Things get even more complicated when Erling, back in Oslo on a furlough, gets a telephone order which leads to an assassination. In truth this is a complicated political conspiracy thriller. The stakes ratchet up as we get deeper and deeper.
Eventually we are not just talking about Afghanistan. And we will also come to find that we are watching a story that is not just about Erling Riiser. Norway itself must worry about its own future.
I give the series high marks for its realism with regard to the military, and even higher marks about how one man must deal with the quandary he is in. The series has an expensive look and feel to it, and there’s no way you will think that this was produced on the cheap.
There’s something that don’t see every day. The Afghan national game of Buzkashi. It is kind of like polo in the sense that excellent horsemanship is required. Only they don’t ride around with mallets hitting a wooden ball. Instead the object is the headless carcass of a dead goat.
The video below is a song by Ary called The Sea. This song was chosen by the producers of Nobel to offer a strong visual ‘preview’ of the TV series as an introduction to the series and characters in general, as well as introducing Ary to a world audience. While this video is highly stylized, it does serves a powerful introduction to the characters that you will see in the 8 episode drama.