Trom: a crime drama set in the Faroe Islands

I watch a lot of Nordic television; my wife and I joke that we can spot Danish actors more easily than American ones. So of course I was excited that someone finally filmed a crime drama set in the Faroe Islands. Trom is a police procedural, adapted from novels by Jógvan Isaksen. Most of the action is set in Tórshavn, although there are scenes from many of the islands and it’s fun to identify locations throughout the 6-episode season.

Without overdoing it, the show manages to include many well known landmarks throughout the country. For example, in their search for clues about a young women’s death the police comb the area near Gásadalur, including a trip down the old stairwell to the rocky shoreline below.

A scene from the TV show Trom near the village of Gásadalur.
A scene from the first episode of Trom, showing the a search party near Gásadalur on the island of Vágar.
The Faroese police head past the “No Admittance!” sign, down the cliffside steps.

The most fun for me, personally, was spotting places in Trom that I visited during my trip to the Faroe Islands in 2018. It’s a small country, so I’m not surprised that I could recognize many of the shooting locations, but there was one scene that I especially enjoyed. The investigative journalist Hannis Martinsson (played by Ulrich Thomsen) is approaching a bar, and I realized I’d taken nearly the exact same photo of my wife walking up to the door at Mikkeller in Tórshavn. The tight quarters and low ceilings inside were perfect for the forthcoming scene, although I imagine (and hope!) that it may have been the first bar fight inside a Mikkeller.

A comparison of two photos outside of Mikkeller in the Faroe Islands, one from the TV show Trom and one shot by the author.
At the top, the character Hannis Martinsson approaches the entrance of Mikkeller. At the bottom, a near identical photo I happened to take of my wife Molly on our trip in 2018.

There were little production details that I enjoyed spotting as well. For example, after the success of the The Killing, with its iconic Faroese sweater worn by lead detective Sarah Lund, it’s not surprising to see the the detective Karla Mohr (played by Maria Rich) in similar attire. In general, it feels like the show worked to claim the Faroe Islands’ rightful position as the best sweater wearing nation, with many characters donning enviable woolen specimens.

The lead detective in Trom, clad in a Faroese sweater.
DCI Karla Mohr in a Faroese sweater.

A close look at the credits reveals that the producers took care to leverage local talent for the production, including the soundtrack. Every one of the recordings on the soundtrack is associated with TUTL Records, the Faroese record label.

Actually watching Trom is a bit tricky. It’s available on Viaplay, which I believe is a straightforward sign-up if you live in a Nordic country, but in the USA the service is only available as an add-on to Xfinity. There are claims that Viaplay is planning a standalone app in the US but I haven’t heard anything more concrete. If you live in the UK you’ll have a better option soon, as the BBC has announced plans to pick up Trom. I also don’t know the date for that either, but the series will sit well alongside Shetland, their other North Atlantic crime drama.

Trom trailer with English language subtitles

Hopefully Trom will get a broader release. I would love to see it included in the lineup on Topic, which I’ve only recently discovered. Topic is a streaming service, available in the US, that specializes crime dramas from around the world, including Nordic classics like The Killing and The Bridge. I highly recommended it as a compliment to Netflix or other more mainstream services, which are starting get more non-US exposure but tend to be spotty or incomplete.