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Kenneth Branagh, Sarah Smart, Tom Hiddleston
Adapted from the Henning Mankell mystery novels
3 Episodes 2 DVD
BBC / Warner Home Video 2009

Aired in the U.S. as part of the PBS Mystery! series, Wallander is a welcome and solid addition to any fan of BBC mystery series. This adaptation of the Henning Mankell novels is set in Sweden but has a very British feel to them. At the same time, Wallander is very different from your standard BBC offering both in style and mood. The 3 episodes on this Wallander DVD set are Sidetracked, Firewall, and One Step Behind. They are all captivating.

The first episode on this Wallander DVD set is Sidetracked. A young girl immolates herself right under Wallander’s eyes, a former member of government is killed, and an art dealer is also killed in the same way. The detective must put the pieces of this complicated puzzle together. This makes for excellent mystery TV.

Wallander’s one weakness is the director of photography is give too free a reign so there are fancy schmancy camera angles and shots that though interesting, distract and detach you from the story at hand.  Series like Jesse Stone prove you can have a great detective series with gorgeous scenes without them getting in between the viewer and the story.

Brannagh is excellent as Detective Wallander. His hangdog looks and the weariness with which he plays the troubled detective give this series its own signature.

The second episode on this Wallander DVD set is Firewall. It starts out with two teen girls killing a cab driver for no apparent reason and not being particularly worried about the whole deal. Another man dies and nobody knows why and then his body vanishes from the morgue. A bit of light is brought to the gloomy detective when he goes on an internet date. This is an excellent mystery.

One Step Behind (DVD 2) opens with a gunman killing three people having a picnic at Midsummer’s Eve and the detectives losing someone on the force. This episode sags a bit in the middle but the ending is quite something.

Extra features on the Wallander DVD set are Who Is Kurt Wallander? , a one hour feature with John Harvey, author of the Charlie Resnick mystery series; a 12-minute bit on The Wallander Look; The Branagh – Mankell Interview (30 minutes); and a 15-minute short on Branagh’s Wallander.