[identity profile] gloria-scott.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] nordic_noir
[Cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] smallfandomfest]

Welcome to my Wallander pimp! I'm not going to lie - as much as I absolutely adore this show, it is one of the most depressing series I've ever seen. So the caveat to my pimp is this - yes, do watch Wallander, but only when you're in a healthy frame of mind because seriously, this show will get you down. Still with me? Good. On with the pimpage!

What's It All About?

Wallander is the BBC's take on author Henning Mankell's character, Inspector Kurt Wallander of the Ystad police. Each episode is based on one of Mankell's novels, and entail some pretty grisly cases of serial murder. In this series, Kurt Wallander is played by the inestimable Kenneth Branagh. The character and the series also grapple with social issues illuminated by the cases, such as violence against women, xenophobia, and the dark underbelly of capitalism.

Why You Should Give It a Try

Well, first and foremost...it's Kenneth Branagh. I've been enamored of most of his work since Henry V, and the Wallander series ranks up there with some of the best stuff that he's ever done. Branagh gives a "majestically morose" performance of "perhaps the most melancholy man on television." His Wallander is gruff, taciturn, and emotional. He cares deeply about the cases that he works; they affect him on a profound level, leaving little left over for him to give to sustaining the relationships in his life - particularly with his daughter and his ailing father.

Here's just a taste of his performance. This occurs at the end of One Step Behind, when the serial killer they've been chasing ends up in Wallander's house with a gun to his daughter Linda's head (so yes, serious spoilers abound). There's also bonus Tom Hiddleston saving the day.

And speaking of Tom Hiddleston - he's part of Wallander's very fine cast of supporting players. Because the series focuses so narrowly on Wallander himself, you don't get much chance to delve into the lives of the other characters. However, the cast they've assembled is top-notch, and Branagh plays off of each of them to great effect.

Practically every scene involving Wallander and Hiddleston's character Magnus Martinsson devolves into a pissing contest between the gruff old-timer and the up-and-coming young officer trying to prove himself.

Jeannie Smart is brilliant as Linda, Wallander's daughter. She's such a bright, vivacious contract to his sullen isolation and introversion.

David Warner plays Wallander's bohemian painter dad. The two are estranged and live in seperate universes, and the chasm between them is never really crossed before Wallander's dad succumbs to Alzheimer's.

Wallander's team also includes several very competent women. Anne-Britt Hoglund is a young detective that he certainly gets along better with than he does Martinsson, and Lisa Holgersson is his boss, the Chief of Police.

Another reason to watch Wallander is purely aesthetic - it's beautifully shot. I don't tend to spend much time thinking about the cinematography of films or TV shows, but this is one of the most stunningly gorgeous shows I've ever seen.

The Books

I wanted to give a shout-out to the source material here as well. The books by Henning Mankell are entertaining reads, though far from being great literature. You get quite a bit of clunky, "telling" narrative in the "Wallander thought this clue was important" sort of way - though I'm not sure how much of that is Mankell and how much is the fault of the translation. The books certainly helped me when I started writing Wallander fic, because they provide much more of Wallander's back story. Also, they're written primarily from his POV, so you get a much richer sense of his internal life - something you really can't get from just watching the series alone. 

The series also deviates from the books in important - and often infuriating - ways. The biggest complaint I have about the series is that sometimes Branagh's Wallander does some really stupid shit that makes him a terrible police officer, and for which he really should be fired. Things like forgetting to reload his gun (almost leading to his daughter's death), failing to disarm a suspect (leading to another death), and letting a serial killer's target out of his sight for a stupid reason (leading to her death). In the books, these three scenarios played out quite differently and, to my mind, reflected much better on Wallander as a character. Mankell's Wallander is a good deal less careless, and also a good deal more bad ass. I think the books are definitely worth checking out in conjunction with the series.

Current Fandom

Well, this is pretty much the definition of a small fandom - minuscule, actually. There are a handful of fics over on AO3 - some gen, some het involving either Magnus/Linda or Kurt/Anne-Britt, and some slashy Kurt/Magnus (along with my own crossover with Sherlock BBC involving DI Lestrade - see icon above). On lj, there's the fairly dormant [info]wallander_tv community, as well the new multi-fandom [info]nordic_noir community. And I run the Fuck Yeah! BBC Wallander! blog over on Tumblr.

How to Watch

The first and second series consist of three 1.5hr long episodes each, and are available on Amazon by episode or DVD box sets. Netflix also has the DVD's, though they're not available for streaming. And after a terribly long hiatus, the third and probably final series will be airing on the BBC April 1, 8, and 15. So you have some time to catch up, though each episode stands on its own and you shouldn't be lost at all if you just pick it up with the new episodes.

That's it. Hopefully some of you will be enticed into watching the new series (just remember to take your Zoloft first). And hopefully more Wallander-related fic and graphics will be the happy result.

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