Review: The Schouwendam 12 (De 12 van Schouwendam)

Gijs Naber in The Schouwendam 12

The Schouwendam 12 (De 12 van Schouwendam) is a Dutch language mystery series on Acorn TV. It’s a follow up to the very popular The Oldenheim 12. This is a completely new series with a new story, a new setting, and new actors. There are a few spoilers ahead, but I don’t reveal the big stuff.

The writers of The Schouwendam 12 (De 12 van Schouwendam) are the same as the earlier series. The style of writing is very similar. This story takes 12 days, rather than 12 murders..

Twenty-five years ago, the small town of Schouwendam experienced a mysterious event. Two teenagers named Alice and Olaf disappeared.

On day one of the 12 days, a man who looks a lot like Olaf (Gijs Naber) appears. He has amnesia, but he thinks he might be Olaf. One reason he thinks that is he has 1/2 of a heart bracelet with Alice engraved on it.

So begins the mystery of whether this man is Olaf. If he is – where is Alice?

Gijs Naber, Huub Stapel, and Eva Laurenssen in The Schouwendam 12
Olaf, Gerrit Witte, and the nurse Tessa (Eva Laurenssen). Tessa was the only person in town who believed in Olaf’s innocence.

When Thinks-He’s-Olaf hits town, he finds the man he thinks is his father, Gerrit Witte (Huub Stapel). Gerrit has a heart attack at the sight, but lives.

Fockeline Ouwerkerk in The Schouwendam 12
Willemijn has a broken heart

Olaf shows the bracelet to some people and Willemijn Drost (Fockeline Ouwerkerk) produces a matching bracelet with the other half of the broken heart, engraved with Willemijn.

A woman is murdered: Maud van Keulen (Meral Polat). She’s trying to save her marina from the fingers of the developer Rogier van Pallant (Benja Bruijning). Rogier is now married to Willemijn. Except when Alice disappeared, he was dating Alice. And how that he’s married, he’s fooling around with Sophie (Annelies Appelhof).

Cocaine is found in Maud’s boat which leads in a circle through folks in town interested in selling drugs.

Matthijs van de Sande Bakhuyzen in The Schouwendam 12
The lone policeman.

Pim (Matthijs van de Sande Bakhuyzen), the one-man police force, calls in help from the city. Karlijn van Andel (Carine Crutzen) shows up. Karlijn is an interesting character – an older, more experienced cop, and a woman with her own demons.

Karlijn can apparently command the resources of the entire Dutch police establishment. She gets helicopters, cops galore, forensics people, and more at the bark of an order. And the magical powers of the Dutch police are such that they can produce DNA results in mere minutes. That’s good for the plot, since the story happens in 12 days.

A man gets bashed in the head with a vase of human remains in the cemetery. Another man hangs himself. (Except he was hung with a rope just like some rope Olaf bought, so maybe it was murder.) Pim’s wife has postpartum depression, which becomes tangled in the investigation. There’s a lot going on.

Karlijn van Andel thinks Olaf did it all, starting with Alice. She keeps arresting him and letting him go. When he’s free, he’s interrogating everyone in town himself. He questions everyone the police question, twice. He demands to know everything the police learn and maintains his amnesia with a couple of exceptions.

One exception to his amnesia is a big one. It changes the whole dynamic of the murder investigations.

25 year old secrets are revealed on this bench

The town is full of secret affairs, secret drug rings, secret homosexuality, and, most importantly, secret murders. Everyone is suspicious and everyone is lying. Even people who don’t seem suspicious are lying.

We go over the events from 25 years ago multiple times, from different people’s perspectives and with different people telling the story. There are twists and misdirections. The suspense holds until the very end when we finally find out who did the killing.

Out on a pier

The cinematography is beautiful in The Schouwendam 12 (De 12 van Schouwendam). Water plays a big part in the surroundings and the symbolism in the story. I thought the main actors were quite good but some of the secondary actors seemed inclined to chew the scenery a bit.

This is compelling storytelling for mystery lovers. You have plenty of chances to spot the clues and make your guesses as to what really happened.

Poster for The Schouwendam 12

If you’re a Pinterest user, this poster is meant for pinning. The trailer isn’t subtitled, but you can glean a little of it.

Of course, you get the subtitles when you watch it on Acorn TV.

9 thoughts on “Review: The Schouwendam 12 (De 12 van Schouwendam)”

  1. Dutch language, English subtitles. Like all good mysteries the ending was justifiable to the clues all along. It came as a complete surprise to me, actually adding to my enjoyment. The cinematography was gorgeous. The sound techs usually don’t get noticed (unless the screw up) but here they were excellent, allowing me to catch the few words of the Dutch language that I do know. Welcome to a small village in Netherlands’ outback with all its beauty and all its cultural crosscurrents. Everything is this series works perfectly. Well, one exception, they never explained how a teenage misfit survived and supported himself when he went missing.

  2. I have just started watching this tonight. I visited the Netherlands 15 years ago to visit Groningen where my great grandfather was born. I was wondering where these episodes where filmed, they are beautiful. Jim Workman

  3. Except that the graveyard had a lot of French on the headstones. And the real Olaf meets Sophie in Liege, which is in Belgium.

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