Displaying items by tag: Sakho & Mangane

Review: 'Sakho & Mangane'

28 February, 2021

There was a time not that long ago when global television meant some moody procedural produced in Norway. While some of the shows were excellent, at the end of the day they were only culturally a step removed from the traditional American-made detective show. Some of them were even remade for American audiences and that was only possible because the cultural underpinnings of a series made in France or Denmark aren't that far from one made in Vancouver or Atlanta.

One of the best parts of my job over the past couple of years has been getting the chance to see some of the extraordinary television made across the globe. The crazy growth of streaming services has made it possible for TV shows in smaller territories to get global distribution. And it's also sparked a growth in production regionally as American studios and streamers sign deals with talented local writers and producers to create higher-end programming specifically made for a global audience.

Sakho & Mangane is a procedural series produced in Senegal and set in the capital city of Dakar. Created by Jean Luc Herbulot (who also directed four of the season's eight episodes), the show is a stylish and sharply-written take on the familiar buddy cop genre, filtered through a very specific African POV. The result is a fascinating series that can best be described as a unpredictable mash-up of Lethal Weapon, Miami Vice & Fringe

Issaka Sawadogo plays the weary veteran cop Captain Souleymane Sakho, who meets his new partner-to-be when he busts up a drug deal and chases one of the suspects through the streets of Dakar. The chortling suspect ends up flat on his back, still smirking and smoking a cigar while introducing himself as an undercover cop. Lieutenant Basile Mangane (Yann Gael) is the typical young, brash police partner, careless about procedure and pathologically uninterested in being a team player.

But the familiar tropes are soon buried inside a story that is filtered through Senegal's culture. The team gets a new boss, a take-no-prisoners hard ass named Mama Ba (Christiane Dumont). That familiar twist is offset by the duo's first case, the theft of a sacred totem that local fishermen believe gives them favor with the spirits. That supernatural underpinning is a constant throughout the season and by the final two episodes, the story arc includes chemically-created zombies, a mysterious organization and powers that seem to blur the line between reality and the spirit world.

The ensemble of Sakho & Mangane is also uniformly solid. Christophe Guybet plays Toubab, an eccentric pathologist who has outfitted his dissecting room with Eurotrash disco posters, mood lighting and a talking parrot. It's not clear why he's in Dakar and whether he's hiding or on the run. Fatou Elise Ba is also excellent as Antoinette, a self-described modern feminist journalist who struggles to navigate the blurry lines between a new Dakar and the old world culture that still dominates it. Awa (Khalima Gadji) is the station house reception manager, a shy woman who was a victim of some unnamed abuse. But she finds her inner strength as the season progresses and becomes a valuable and insightful investigator. Pope (Ricky Tribold) is a serious and moody young officer who evolves from a critical and serious policeman into a reluctant yet effective bulwark against the supernatural powers that target the police squad.

I loved everything about Sakho & Mangane. The stylish directing, the juxtaposition of American culture in an African setting. Mangane is fond of randomly yelling out "Hasta la vista" in the middle of a chase, which can be unsettling when he's doing it while battling some snarling crime boss/witch. It took me most of the first episode to really be drawn into the unfamiliar beats of Sakho & Mangane. But I quickly binged through the rest of the episodes and the show is one I would recommend to anyone who loves a great procedural drama.

Sakho & Mangane is available on Topic and Netflix.