MIPTV’s Fresh TV sessions are hugely popular with show attendees, and today’s Fresh TV Fiction was no exception. A busy Grand Auditorium saw The Wit’s CEO Virginia Mouseler run through some of the best new television dramas that are looking for global distribution in 2016 and beyond.
“This year, fiction is fantastic. Fiction capitalises on big brands: big actors, big names, names of directors… and real stories,” said Mouseler, introducing three “trending dramas” to start her presentation.
The first was from South Korea: Descendants of the Sun, which has been broadcast on KBS Media. “At the moment it’s the world’s most watched drama. It’s broadcast on terrestrial channel KBS in South Korea, but it’s going global because it’s also broadcast on a Chinese VOD platform.” Where it has 1.5bn views. “It shows the economic strengths of the views, versus the viewers.” She added that Korean dramas are popular around the world, including in Latin America, while Korean formats have been adapted in Turkey, the Philippines and Russia. Another South Korean drama, Stairway to Heaven from SBS, has been adapted elsewhere in the world.
The second “trending drama” was The Night Manager, which was a partnership between the BBC and AMC, based on John Le Carré’s novel of the same name, and with actors Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston and director Susanne Bier. “It remains a British production and a British style, but with the Middle East background, which of course remains really trendy at the moment,” said Mouseler.
The third trending drama was American Crime Story: The People v OJ Simpson from FX in the US, based on the true story of the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson. Mouseler noted that it was a drama, but also could be seen as a scripted documentary, given the true-life story.
Mouseler talked about some scripted trends globally. 28% of new dramas tracked by The Wit were comedies, 18% were thrillers, 9% were soaps and novelas, 7% were romances, 7% were period dramas and 5% were science-fiction and fantasy shows.
Onto the main list of shows. Russian comedy The Island was a big hit on TNT when it debuted in February: eight contestants shooting a survival-reality show on a desert island, but one day the production yacht sails off and explodes. The contestants carry on their game, unaware of the disaster, so carry on with their survival game unaware that nobody is filming them any more.
British noir-thriller Marcella (Cineflix) involves a detective (“and a wife, and a mother”) at the point of crisis: investigating a serial murder case screening the lives and psychology of potential suspects and victims.
Swedish noir Spring Tide (ESG) was a big success in Sweden in March. It’s a cold case that’s reopened, where a young pregnant woman was buried in the sand and slowly drowned as the high spring tide came in. 25 years later, a young female cop reopens the case that her late father had worked on.
More nordic noir from Norway with Nobel (DRG), which will premiere in Autumn on NRK 1. It’s a bit like Homelands, with a mixture of conspiracy, noir and a Middle-East setting. Its trailer revealed explosions, heartbreak and the odd smile.
The Marginal (DoriMedia) is an Argentinian drama where a former cop infiltrates a gang of prisoners operating within prison, but is then betrayed and remains behind bars, surrounded by criminals. He has to escape and recover his identify.
Contact (About Premium Content) is a French thriller about a character called Thomas, who has a unique gift of being able to touch an object to see the memories and secrets hiding in it. He’s been working for the FBI while investigating his own parents’ murder. “A French The Mentalist,” as Mouseler put it.
Filthy Rich (CAA) is a drama from New Zealand: one of the country’s wealthiest men falls from a hotel balcony, and his three illegitimate children show up to try to grab the inheritance. This “soapy” drama looks to have plenty of laughs, and lots of scheming.
Dark Angel (ESG) comes from the UK: based on the true story of Victorian poisoner Mary Ann Cotton – “the first female serial killer” – who goes ever deeper into a career of casual murder over a mini-series of three episodes.
Valkyrien (About Premium Content) offers more Nordic noir with a sci-fi twist: a physician is desperately seeking a cure for his dying wife, creating an illegal clinic for off-the-grid patients in the process, crossing more and more ethical lines as he goes.
Lifeline (Imagina Sales / Atresmedia Intl) sees a highly-respected surgeon have a heart attack and receive a heart transplant, but the heart – from an unknown donor – gives him nightmares about a murder. The donor died a violent death, so the doctor investigates.
The Incident (Boomerang TV / Atresmedia Intl) is even more mysterious: a show from Spain set in a tiny isolated mountain village, where a series of “unimaginable” events disrupt the lives of the villagers.
The Aliens (BBC Worldwide) from the UK sees a group of aliens living in a ghetto of brutal violence – a parable for real-world refugees – and centres on Lewis, a young border guard who is drawn into the ghetto by a “pretty young alien” and discovers that perhaps he isn’t 100% human himself.
The A Word (Keshet Intl) sees an extended family reuniting for the youngest son’s fifth birthday party. Tensions soon rise about the boy’s behaviour, and when he is diagnosed with autism, they have to learn to communicate all over again. This originally aired in 2010 in Israel, but a UK adaptation debuted in March 2016.
And that was a wrap.