1. IT LIVES UP TO ITS NAME
Most crime shows stick to one location - whether that's a sleepy English village with the body count of a war zone, or a sleek US city under siege by serial killers. But it's fair to say Crossing Lines is a bit more ambitious than that. This is a show that's set not in one town, or one country, but across the whole of Europe. Our team of elite cops will be in France one minute and Bulgaria the next. But how can they do this without treading on the toes of local coppers?
Well, first of all they DO tread on said toes and rub various police forces up the wrong way (much to our amusement). But the reason they're allowed to jump across countries in pursuit of perps is that our heroes are a special task force created by the International Criminal Court - a real-life organization that's based in The Hague. While the real ICC is known for punishing war crimes, the splinter group in Crossing Lines go after serial killers, kidnappers and all-round bad eggs. What this means is thrilling tales against gorgeously picturesque, continental backdrops. Who can resist?
2. CARL HICKMAN IS COOL
Tormented cops aren't exactly a new thing in crime shows, but the main man in the first two seasons of Crossing Lines takes things to brilliant extremes. For ace detective Carl Hickman, battling personal demons doesn't simply mean brooding handsomely in a bar while sinking whiskies and agonizing over clues. No, the man is way beyond that. At the start of the series, he's a washed-up ex-cop whose career in the NYPD came to an abrupt end when he was shot in the hand.
Unable to hold a gun and hooked on morphine, Hickman became a weird loner in Amsterdam, scraping a living by picking up trash in a theme park before his skills as a crime-solver led to him being recruited by the ICC. Quite the backstory, but at least it meant he gets to come up with rubbish-related one-liners while battling bad guys ("Cleaning up garbage is something I've always been good at"). Haunted, pained and almost supernaturally gifted, Hickman is everything a TV cop should be.
3. IT HAS AN INCREDIBLE ENSEMBLE SET-UP
One of the characters in Crossing Lines jokingly compares the team to DC's Justice League, and there is definitely a "team of mismatched superheroes" vibe to proceedings (only with far fewer capes and spandex-clad limbs). What we have is a team of cops with very different skills and very different backgrounds, and the ensemble nature of the show is one of the reasons it's so addictive. You actively WANT to spend more time with these guys, because there's always more to discover about this colourful lot.
Just to give you an idea of what to expect, one of them is a German tech specialist who earned his reputation by using virtual reality to track down the gangsters behind a massacre in a restaurant. He also happens to have a gambling addiction. Then there's a ravishing Italian undercover expert who started her career taking on the Cosa Nostra, dealing with everything from money laundering to the drug trade. We also have to mention the weapons expert from Northern Ireland who took the most unlikely path to border-crossing super-cop. He used to be a bare-knuckle boxer, and nearly killed a guy in a fight once. Let's be glad he's on our side.
4. IT HAS STARS GALORE
Star-spotting is one of the casual pleasures of Crossing Lines. The biggest, of course, is acting legend Donald Sutherland, who plays a bigwig at the ICC. Always a grand and poetic presence, Sutherland is perfect in the role of a man burdened by a traumatic past (World War Two and the Holocaust) while orchestrating a never-ending pursuit of justice. Carl Hickman, the lead character in the first two seasons, is played by William Fichtner, whose haunted, hollow-eyed countenance helps him steal the show whenever he turns up in things (from Prison Break to The Dark Knight).
Season three also sees the appearance of Goran Visnjic, the sultry heartthrob of ER. Elsewhere in Crossing Lines, look out for Carrie-Ann Moss, who became a screen icon in The Matrix, plus the carved-from-granite hardman Ray Stevenson, one of the actors to have played Marvel's The Punisher on the big screen. Special mention also has to go to the chap in the recurring role of Lt. Moreau - he's Rossif Sutherland, son of Donald and half-brother of Kiefer.