The Russian-language version of Мажор premiered on December 15, 2014 on First Channel, Russia’s most-watched television channel. It was later picked up by Netflix and released in the fall of 2016 under the name Silver Spoon. The first two seasons are currently available there, both with English subtitles. It was the first Russian-produced TV show to show on Netflix.
The series has four seasons and a total of forty episodes. Although set in Moscow, the first season was actually filmed in Kyiv. The second season was filmed in St. Petersburg and Moscow. In addition to being popular in its home country, Мажор has enjoyed international success; it has been released with subtitles to Bulgarian and English-speaking audiences and will next be released as a Korean remake sometime in 2020. Its final episode was released on November 15, 2018.
Below, you will find the series premier, a synopsis of the first episode and a brief analysis of the series premier and its critical reception.
Categorized as a crime drama and psychological thriller, Мажор offers its Western audience a refreshing change from typical police dramas. The main lead, Pavel Priluchnyy, who plays Igor, is the son of a wealthy oligarch. He has been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and spends all of his time partying at nightclubs. Igor is arrested for street racing through Moscow while high on drugs, as a result of which he gets into a fight with one of the police officers while trying to defend his friend. In order to teach his son a lesson, Igor’s father sends his son to work as an apprentice police officer for a year in the very unit that nearly convicted him. This is his alternative to serving time in prison – and losing his inheritance. Initially, his police force colleagues are not too pleased with Igor’s presence, as they view him as a rich, spoiled intruder forced into their workplace. Although it takes him some time to come around, Igor eventually takes a liking to his work and builds a rapport with his colleagues. In the midst of this, Igor becomes caught in a love triangle between his female captain, Victoria, played by Karina Razumovskaya, and another officer, Danila Korolev, played by Denis ShvedovIgor. Another subplot emerges as Igor begins taking steps towards unraveling the mystery behind his mother’s alleged suicide, which happened twenty years prior.
Мажор was directed by Konstantin Statskiy and produced by Sreda Film, a production company that produces TV programs for audiences in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan.
Russian critics have met Мажор with mixed reactions – often pointing to Russian stereotypes, aesthetics, and problematic plots as being apparently brought in specifically to cater to western audiences but inaccurately representing Russian reality.
Furthermore, some critics feel that Мажор has been modeled too much off of Western formats. The character development progresses from episode to episode, which shifts the viewer’s attention between the unfolding events of the investigations and the personal lives of its protagonists, creating many cliffhangers for added tension and suspense. Despite, this, however, like many Western serials, each episode of Мажор may be watched separately from the rest since one episode is one investigation and other plot twists are generally made clear in each episode.
As for the progranists, Igor in particular is depicted as a relatable, yet not always realistic character, as he is often portrayed in incredibly stereotypical terms. He races in an expensive car, does drugs, and parties in a club for billionaires. His characterization may be met by Westerners with a mix of curiosity and envy. Victoria, the police chief, on the other hand, may be seen as even more real and convincing than females shown in Western “cop shows” – which often lack women in authority altogether.
One of the other qualities of this series that wins over foreign viewers are the two clearly defined narrative arcs: the transformation of Igor from an entitled snob to a better human being and his quest to solve the mystery behind his mother’s death. These run in parallel since as Igor begins to realize he has a knack for police work, his desire to learn more about his mom takes him down both a dark personal path and helps motivate his professional development.
Late in 2016, Netflix bought five more series from Sreda Film in addition to Мажор. In an interview with Sreda Film’s owner, Alexander Tsekalo, speaks of Sreda Film’s international presence as being an indicator of success since no other Russian TV production has previously had such internationally-acclaimed success. This success has also been due to Sreda Film’s willingness and ability to work with international showrunners. It can also be attributed to the company making what can be seen as original works – rather than remakes of other shows that have, until recently, dominated Russian television. Tsekalo mentions that the series was sold at the international market price, and explains how this will hopefully motivate both himself and others to continue to produce high quality, original productions out of Russia and even compete against Western series for western audiences.