I haven't seen the Swedish production of the Henning Mankell books, so I can't compare (comments welcome), but I did find the episodes, adapted from the books very compelling. Shot in southern Sweden, the landscape is as bleak as Wallander's life. It took me a little bit of time to get into the first production, but once there I was hooked. These shows really capture the detective, the collapsing Swedish society, and the conflicted Wallander in the Henning Mankell mysteries. Alan Cumming, the Masterpiece Mystery! host probably says it best when he says Wallander makes Inspector Morse look like Mary Poppins. He's got that right!
I had a bit of a problem at first with all the characters speaking English not Swedish. However, I soon got caught up in the pace, the camera angles, and the Swedish setting. So even though the characters don't speak English, the traffic signs and even words on a computer are in Swedish. O.K, this was probably what threw me at the beginning of the first episode. Branagh is brilliant as the self-loathing but compassionate Wallander. He and the setting and the crimes are bleak.
The Episodes are "Sidetracked" in which Wallander is on a case when someone starts killing people with an ax and scalping them. "Firewall" has Wallandar trying to link the deaths of a taxi drive and systems analyst with a series of blackouts. In "One Step Behind," the assassinations of a group of teens sets off a chain of events that leads back to Wallander.
To watch a preview of the PBS series, go here.
I highly recommend you watch or record these episodes.
For more info on the Kurt Wallander shows, go to this fan site
This series will be released on DVD on June 2.
More on Henning Mankell
On May 4 Henning Mankell revealed that Den orolige mannen will be the Swedish title of the final novel in the Wallander series . A literal translation of the title into English would be "The Worried/Nervous/Anxious/Restless Man"
The novel is completed and will be published in Sweden in August of 2009. The publication schedule for other languages is unknown at this point.