New heights is a Swiss series about a high-flying consultant who returns to his family’s dairy farm after a tragedy. He’ll probably resist the idea that he comes from a farming family, but eventually he’ll accept it and even embrace it. The key to this drama, however, is: can he keep both lives going without falling apart?
NEW HEIGHTS: Stream or skip?
opening shot: A blurred shot of a man in a shirt and red bandana riding a mechanical bull.
The essentials: Michi Wyss (Julian Koechlin) is a management consultant and turnaround expert and works in Zurich. His current largest customer is one of the largest dairy companies in Switzerland, which is in financial difficulties. He lives fast, goes to clubs and snorts coke when he’s not working. He is immediately drawn to Joel Bachmann (Benito Bause), a new team member recruited from the group’s headquarters in Hamburg.
Back at the family dairy farm, Neumatt, Kurt Wyss (Paul Kaiser) watches as his youngest son Lorenz (Jérôme Humm) gives birth to a calf; He goes to his daughter Sarah’s (Sophie Hutter) gym, but doesn’t have the heart to talk to her. He then calls Michi just as Michi is flirting with Joel at a club. In the middle of the night, Lorenz hears a noise and finds his father hanging from a beam in the barn.
The family regroups around her mother, Katharina (Rachel Braunschweig), who persuades Lorenz to tell everyone – including his brother and sister – that his father died falling off a ladder. She finds a letter he left for Michi, which she decides to keep to herself. The cattle still have to be tended, so everyone lends a hand, but when an offer comes in from a neighbor, Ursula Halter (Judith Hofmann) – whose husband Martin (Roeland Wiesnekker) is having an affair with Katharine – Sarah thinks her mother at least has it should consider.
Michi returns to Zurich, but his grief is overwhelming, as is his guilt for not being there for his family while building his career in Zurich.
What shows will it remind you of? New heights (original title: Neumatt) has a similar history as someone somewhereeven if the vibes of both shows are completely different.
Our opinion: New heights definitely leans towards a show with a simple idea but complicated execution. Wealthy, middle-class person goes back to basics in the small town she grew up in to support family and save her business. Michi certainly lives fast and is ambitious as hell; he tells Sarah he doesn’t just want to work at the Hamburg headquarters, but also in Asia and the US, but he’ll balance that with the idea that Neumatt needs to be rescued.
We’re not 100 percent sure how creator Marianne Wendt and the series’ writers are going to make up for that. It’s hard to say anything about Michi’s personality other than the fact that he’s ambitious. Some of the complications involve the why of Katharine’s decision to hide Kurt’s true cause of death and the fact that the siblings are on conflicting sides in the argument over whether or not to sell.
Is the farm losing money? How does this relate to the turnaround Michi’s team is attempting with the dairy group, which likely uses Neumatt milk? Maybe it all has to do with why Kurt took his own life. So if the story is more about saving the farm and less about Michi adapting his city life to his rural roots, things will likely become more interesting. However, Michi has to adjust to being back on the farm and finding out that the farm – and his family – are more important to his life than he thought.
gender and skin: Michi and Joel start undressing each other, then they wake up next to each other the next morning, but that’s about it.
farewell shot: While Kurt burns the noose, Katharine reads the letter he left Michi and stands by the fire, stunned.
sleeping star: Benito Bause will likely be the unsung person in the cast as Joel grows closer to Michi, even with Michi trying to balance so many things at once.
Most pilot line: When Sarah’s daughter Angelina (Anouk Petri) whines about having to clean her mother’s exercise equipment, Sarah asks her what she thinks she was doing when she was her age. “Bathing in the manure pit?” says Angelina.
Our appeal: Stream it. Because of all the complexity involved in the story, New heights has the potential to be a family oriented drama or a more edgy drama about someone trying to reconcile two lives and failing. Either way, it’s a good start.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and technology, but he doesn’t fool himself: He’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.comFast Company and elsewhere.