Masterpiece's usual spring and summer schedule is clearly feeling the effect of the coronavirus pandemic, as delays across the pond affect the arrival of several expected series. World on Fire Season 2 and the next round of Baptiste are both still delayed, with the latter penciled for fall and the former still uncertain. But never fear, as the series arriving instead, Atlantic Crossing, has both World War II and the Netherlands/Scandanavian roots.
Since Masterpiece's inception, many of its wartime dramas have focused on the Second World War. Even series like The First Churchills (which aired during Masterpiece's premiere season back in 1971) was inspired by the wartime prime minister. Masterpiece's tenth season had ITV's Danger UXB, the switch to Mobile Masterpiece Theater in Season 26 included Breaking the Code, a drama about Alan Turing.
At first glance, Atlantic Crossing seems to be another period piece set during the last "good war," but it's not. First off, it's not a British production at all, but Masterpiece's first co-production with Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, together with Danish and Swedish public broadcasters, DR and SVT. Moreover, it's not about how the British bravely survived, but a less considered area of the war, the Scandanavian block of Sweden and Norway.
Created by Alexander Eik and Linda May Kallestein, who acted as director and screenwriter, respectively, the series dives into a little-remembered detail, the relationship between Sweden and Norway's Crown Princess Marta and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Though it is not known if they had an affair, it is a matter of historical record that Roosevelt was besotted with her and that she was his "last great love" before he died in 1945.
What makes this story different, though, is it is not told from Roosevelt's point of view or that of any man. Instead, this is a World War II story from the lens of a woman who was semi-shut out of power and saw her country fall to Hitler while the U.S. remained stubbornly, selfishly neutral. It's also a historical drama based on real events that have mostly been forgotten or swept under the rug.
Here's the show's synopsis:
Inspired by true events, Atlantic Crossing sheds new light on Norwegian Crown Princess Märtha, who fled from Nazi occupation during WW2 to become an influential figure in world politics. Living at the White House with her children, she developed a close relationship with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and convinced him to support Norway and Europe, at a time when the American public was against the US joining the war.
The eight-part limited series stars Swedish star Sofia Helin (The Bridge) as the Crown Princess and Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks) as Roosevelt. The series also co-stars Tobias Santelmann (Beforeigners), Harriet Sansom Harris (Desperate Housewives), and Suzanne Bertish (Mercy Street).
Atlantic Crossing premieres on Masterpiece on Sunday, April 4, 2021, at 9 p.m. ET on most PBS stations. As always, check your local listings.