Contains spoilers for Wallander.
Fifteen seconds to nine pm on Sunday and things are not shaping up well:
And now on BBC1, Kenneth Branagh brings a maverick detective to life...
I’m immediately reminded of a Guardian interview with Paul Abbot:
We make a police series, with a bit of a maverick copper as the lead. I say, 'Is he called Maverick?' They go, 'No, he's called John.' Why not call him Maverick and let's get it over and done with.’ I mean, you might as well. It's derelict, it's fucking derelict.
Four minutes in: what a fantastic opening. A disturbed teenage girl empties a can of petrol over her head and sets herself on fire whilst Kurt Wallander (our eponymous maverick detective) watches on, powerless to act. Like, wow. I’m hooked.
Eight minutes in: ah, it’s set in Sweden. Nice move, not going for Swedish chef accents all round. I like.
Thirty minutes in: why is it that pathologists always seem to arrive at the scene of crime well before any detectives? One explanation could be is that there’s absolutely no traffic in Sweden; lots of brand new Volvos, but no traffic to speak of.
Forty minutes in: ooh, look: it’s that kid from Skins, Nicholas what’s-his-face. I bet he did it. Guilty as sin. Case closed. Detective Chip: have the night off. You did good, son.
Seventy minutes in: if this was on ITV, we’d have an additional thirty seven bodies and another thirty minutes to look forward to. Thank the lord for small mercies.
Oh, all right then: I’ll stop being such a grouch and admit that I quite enjoyed Wallander. There’s no doubt that it looks absolutely gorgeous; the cinematography is lush, almost hyper-real, hallucinatory. There’s an overhead shot of a field of rape that looks simply stunning. Ken Branagh is fantastic, as is David Warner and Nicholas Hoult.
But try as I might, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d seen it all before. What exactly is different about Wallander? Is it simply the fact that it’s set in Sweden (and is a partial remake of this)? I’m struggling to think of anything else that distinguishes it from the competition, unless you discount some pretty heavyweight acting performances. It’s not exactly cosy in a Midsomer Murders style, but neither is it The Wire. So, what is it exactly? Another show about a maverick cop? I think we’ve got enough of those already, thanks. Looks nice tho'.