Posted by: Paul | January 4, 2010


Last night saw the return to the washed out melancholic landscape of rural Sweden in the BBC adaptations of Henning Mankell’s Wallander books.  Kenneth Branagh is wonderful in the title role of the detective – tired, depressed, but so dogged.  Wallander feels rather like a lucid dream – over-saturated light blankets everything, extreme close ups of faces, doors, cars, make it feel like a post-expressionist montage.  Great script and fantastic support from the always-watchable Sarah Smart – why isn’t she on our screens more often?  Choosy about roles?  Spending too much time in Sweden making these exquisite, but somewhat unevenly paced dramas?

Pacing was something of an issue.  Wallander, like all good detective fiction, rewards the patient and the observant, and unfortunately the combination of a couple of paracetamol for a headache after dinner and a large beer at lunchtime meant I was neither last night, and despite my best efforts I slipped off with about 25 minutes to go.  The team had hit a brick wall in terms of clues, and with the investigation seemingly going nowhere I began to drift near the edge of sleep.  Images and sounds came and went – cornfields, a police badge, a dead horse – and as the revelations came thick and fast late on I missed them all and had to be filled in by the missus afterwards.  If the denoument had come slightly earlier I might have been able to force myself to stay awake!  I will drink a bucket of tea before the next episode, we need to keep the viewing figures up!  With cutbacks being made in drama departments across the land I fear that the days of such high quality productions as this may be numbered.  Lets hope not.



  1. This is the best thing the BBC have done for a long time. I hope they can keep it up.

    • I think it’s great. Branagh is brilliant in the role. I imagine it’s quite expensive to produce, being made pretty much entirely on location in Sweden, but the quality shines through. It’s been pretty successful critically and they keep re-running it on BBC4, along with showing the Swedish originals, so that suggests they’re behind it. Here’s hoping.

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