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Wallander: One Step Behind (Review)

The wonderful folks at the BBC have given me access to their BBC Global iPlayer for a month to give the service a go and trawl through the archives. I’ll have some thoughts on the service at the end of the month, but I thought I’d also take the opportunity to enjoy some of the fantastic content.

And so we reach the end of the first season of the British adaptations of Henning Mankell’s acclaimed Swedish crime novels. Wallander is a series that is probably much stronger than it really should be, offering ninety-minute-long mysteries that are produced the standards of feature films. Director Philip Martin returns after directing the first episode to helm the final in the first trilogy of adaptations. (There would be a second set of three broadcast in 2010 and another set of three to be shown in 2012.) Strangely enough, this final episode actually manages to give a significant amount of depth to the title character, finally suggesting a role worthy of the depth Branagh imbues into it.

We've got a hit on our hands...

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Wallander: Firewall (Review)

The wonderful folks at the BBC have given me access to their BBC Global iPlayer for a month to give the service a go and trawl through the archives. I’ll have some thoughts on the service at the end of the month, but I thought I’d also take the opportunity to enjoy some of the fantastic content.

Firewall feels a bit more like a conventional little mystery thriller, especially measured against Sidetracked, the pilot episode of Wallander. It’s very much a conventional television “whodunnit” (or, perhaps, a “whydunnit”), with our lead character opening an investigation into a fairly simple case, but asking a series of questions that point towards something all-together larger. It does feel a bit lighter than its direct predecessor, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, it retains the two key virtues of the series. Kenneth Branagh is still on fine form as the eponymous detective, while the Swedish scenery is still absolutely haunting.

Hitting a brick Wallander...

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Wallander: Sidetracked (Review)

The wonderful folks at the BBC have given me access to their BBC Global iPlayer for a month to give the service a go and trawl through the archives. I’ll have some thoughts on the service at the end of the month, but I thought I’d also take the opportunity to enjoy some of the fantastic content.

In hindsight, it’s very hard to divorce Wallander from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Both are Swedish murder mysteries exploring the darker side of what one character here terms “the great social experiment”, both involve uncovering old secrets buried in the past, and both are adapted by the production company Yellow Bird. In fact, the BBC adaptation of Henning Mankell’s novels actually debuted a year before the theatrical release of that other hugely influential Scandinavian thriller. Featuring a blistering centre performance from Kenneth Branagh and absolutely superb production, I think that the BBC’s production of Wallander actually stands in fairly good company.

Out in the field...

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