There’s an enormous amount of compelling material in FX’s new drama “The Bridge.” Viewers have come to expect moral punch, sophisticated story lines, atmospheric texture, and acting excellence from the network that has already given us “The Shield,” “Justified,” “Rescue Me,” and “The Americans.” And “The Bridge” quickly lives up to that high expectation, based on a preview of the first three episodes. The show unfolds like a rich, gritty, and addictive novel, with some surprising detours and lots of transporting, grainy imagery.
Yes, it’s yet another one of TV’s serial-killer puzzles: more mystified cops, more severed bodies, more profiling. And yes, it’s also yet another buddy-cop TV setup, with a pair of detectives who bicker but whose talents nonetheless mesh. And yet, like “The Killing,” “The Bridge” rises well above those too-familiar TV tropes and expands into a portrait of a particular part of the world and its people. Just as sun-starved Seattle and its subculture of street kids define this season of “The Killing,” the heat and dust and thorny immigration issues of the US-Mexico border are integral to “The Bridge.” As the action moves back and forth between the countries and the languages (there are some subtitles), it brings us deep inside a divide filled with raw prejudice and class conflict.