River: Season 1 (2015)

Season 1

Critics Consensus

River is a richly rewarding mystery that finds Stellan Skarsgård at the peak of his powers, ably rising to the nuances of Abi Morgan's pathos-laden teleplay.



Critic Ratings: 13


Audience Score

User Ratings: 305
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Air date: Nov 18, 2015
Air date: Nov 18, 2015
Air date: Nov 18, 2015
Air date: Nov 18, 2015
Air date: Nov 18, 2015
Air date: Nov 18, 2015

Tv Season Info

Series 1 follows John River, a brilliant detective whose fractured mind traps him between the living and the dead.


Stellan Skarsgard
as John River
Nicola Walker
as Jackie 'Stevie' Stevenson
Lesley Manville
as Chrissie Read
Eddie Marsan
as Thomas Cream
Adeel Akhtar
as Ira King
Georgina Rich
as Rosa Fallows
Owen Teale
as Marcus McDonald
Turlough Convery
as Frankie Stevenson
Sorcha Cusack
as Bridie Stevenson
Steve Nicolson
as Jimmy Stevenson
Josef Altin
as Christopher Riley
Peter Bankolé
as Haider Jamal Abdi
Lydia Leonard
as Marianne King
Stefan Kalipha
as Omari Tadros
Shannon Tarbet
as Erin Fielding
Franz Drameh
as Bruno Marconi
Souleiman Bock
as Khaalid Mohamoud
Adjoa Andoh
as Sunday Akentola
Fady Elsayed
as Aten Olama
Amelia Lowdell
as Pauline Merton
Cathy Murphy
as Marlena Fielding
Alec Utgoff
as Sasha Mischenko
Jon House
as Police Officer
Soo Drouet
as Loud-Mouthed Woman
Andy Rashleigh
as Pub Landlord
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for River Season 1

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (5)

(Skarsgård's) performance here was a revelation, switching in seconds from remoteness to fury, from twinkling avuncularity to withering scorn.

Nov 17, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Inside all the familiar genre trappings-the gunned-down ex-partner, the arse-kicking boss, thrilling foot chases, expensive London skylines, a detective that doesn't play by the rules-is an emotionally meaningful drama led by charismatic performances.

Apr 16, 2019 | Full Review…

It's rare that the final episode of a drama is as brilliant as the first, but everything about River (BBC One, Tuesday) this week is pitch perfect.

Apr 16, 2019 | Full Review…

River is a dazzling feat of high-wire writing without a safety net.

Apr 16, 2019 | Full Review…

River may well blow it in the remaining four episodes, but as a starting point, the opening salvos are heartbreakingly great.

Apr 16, 2019 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

It is brilliantly done, a little masterpiece of entertainment raised to the level of grave, heartbreaking storytelling.

Apr 16, 2019 | Full Review…

Starring Stellan Skarsgård as Detective John River and Nicola Walker as his partner Stevie, the detective drama stood out in an overcrowded genre with its compelling scripts and unusual elements courtesy of writer Abi Morgan.

Apr 16, 2019 | Full Review…

It is still well-written and shot beautifully, but the criminal investigation is not the crux of the drama.

Feb 4, 2019 | Full Review…

Better not to know more and enjoy the beauty, pain and intensity of River. [Full Review in Spanish]

Jul 11, 2018 | Full Review…

[The premise] might sound hokey, but this series, created and written by Abi Morgan, is anything but that, growing deeper, darker and more intricate with each episode.

Dec 30, 2015 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for River: Season 1

  • 12h ago
    Loved it. Stellan is captivating and it's a beautiful love story.
  • May 29, 2019
    Spectacular acting. Wonderful moving plot. Realistic characters. We enjoyed every minute. I wish there were more seasons!
  • May 16, 2019
    Part crime drama, part romance, part psychological exploration -- with all parts equally intense -- River is a masterful, if bouncy, ride through love and grief, through what it means to love so deeply what a departed loved one brought out in you when you were together that your life now depends on you keeping the fire burning by yourself -- carrying both roles into the future alone -- because "there is no longer any me without you." By far and away, my favorite movie/TV drama of all time. Just brilliant.
  • May 15, 2019
    Una excelente serie, con grandes giros dramáticos y una espectacular actuacion de Stellan Skarsgard en el papel de River, un detective atormentado.
  • Feb 17, 2019
    wonderful - captivatingâ?¦ cannot wait for season 2
  • Jun 26, 2018
    everything about this series was well done and enjoyable. I hope there will be more.
  • Jun 17, 2018
    Excellent series, ideal for viewing over the weekend. Stellan Skarsgard is brilliant.
  • Feb 08, 2018
    I have watched a lot of police procedurals, and among them several British ones. This is by far the most unique series I have seen, following Inspector River as he looks for his partner's killer. The twist on this, his partner still talks to him, along with many other victims and/or influences on his life. The second twist, this isn't a supernatural show at all. River just has mental issues and his abilities at being a detective manifest that way. It also shows how that mental illness takes a toll, resulting in a downward spiral. The acting is great with Stellan Skarsgard as the center of the show (yes he is the father of all the young acting Skarsgard including Alexander). His acting is magnificent, and is in direct relation to the decades of acting he has put in. The rest of the cast are spectacular as well with the stars being selected for their acting ability and not because they fit into some weird young Hollywood attractiveness. This is one of the reasons I love British tv, they do have attractive young actors, but their shows starts seem much more relatable, real. There wasn't really any negatives I had with it, except of course the short season always throws me off (being American and used to 13-22 episodes a season, 6 episodes is always quick). I truly think though that is where British TV has American TV beat. It is about telling a story, if that only takes four episodes, that is ok. They don't have to stretch it out to 22 episodes, thus making the show lose both pacing and heart. Pros: In the top three for cop shows I have seen, and just a generally great series. Cons: The fact there is no confirmed season 2, although honestly it might be good to leave it finished as an excellent show.
  • Jan 29, 2018
    There are many really good episodic detective thriller series, the most original of which seem to be sprouting mostly from outside the United States. Both single-season/"mini-series" - as in the case of “River" where a single plot must necessarily stand alone to remain so powerful - and shows with more traditional multi-season arcs have become my my favorite genre in the past year or two; mainly because of how reliably storylines and characters are each developed in a sort of symbiosis rather than fighting for dominance. My interest in this genre was launched by “River” over a year ago, and now the moderate-and-growing list of titles within this new (or perhaps just new-to-me) genre I’d heartily recommend includes the likes of "Bordertown," "The Tunnel," and many many more whose titles escape me at the moment. Even "The Kettering Incident" and "Bosch" - neither of which fit perfectly within the boundaries of this category as I've defined it, one focusing on a mystery but not really a detective story, the other a USA story - give me a new enthusiasm for episodic “tv” (as viewed most often on any device but) But River was a thing unto itself. A brutal, heartbreaking, beautiful, uplifting, intelligent, dark, comic, inspiring work of storytelling, "River" is more than the sum of its parts - however brilliant they be. Without spoilers (and you truly don’t want to ruin it for yourself if you haven’t begun the series yet), I’ll refer to two main characters; the namesake detective and his brilliant-beyond-words female partner. I’d be remiss not to mention about this female partner that she manages to avoid every possible stereotype, and, indeed, breaks out of all the little boxes within which the ‘main male characters’ female cop partner’ have been historically forced (age, particular look including everything from body type too clothing choices, and tiny range of character traits since those displayed must necessarily add flavor to the male character, etc). But even when considering the somewhat broader boundaries of type when it comes to the leading male character in weekly legal procedurals in the US (think “Law and Order’s” many amalgamations, or Blue Bloods which is still on), “River” gives us a new kind of character who we somehow STILL feel we know! In fact, it is the empathy River (the character, not the title) imbues that, for me at least, suctioned my attention and wouldn’t let go until the very last moment of the final episode. It must not go without saying that the character - even if brilliant and unique on Page One of the first treatment written for River - was gifted with fullness, so emotional realism, exponential multi-dimension(ism?)…it was given life, but an actor who I believe to be singularly capable of doing so. Bravo to Stellan Skarsgard…may he keep working if only to satisfy my continued hunger for the best of the best.
  • Jan 28, 2018
    Dark, funny, sad, moving ... well written and well acted. Absolutely loved this short series! Highly recommend it.

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