As you all might know, I am heading off to merry old England in just a few days. Thus, I thought I would do some preparation. Since I have already been through every period drama ever made at least eighteen times, I thought I would turn my attention to something a little more current. Thus, detective dramas. I have been bingeing every one I could find and here is my comprehensive list of recommendations (in no particular order):
Broadchurch is probably one of the most well-known of these series, as David Tennant graced it with his presence and his Scottish accent. It tells the story of a child’s murder in a small town and goes through all the tragic aftermath of trying to deal with something so incomprehensible and painful. I give it full marks for all of the following: beautiful scenery, obfuscation, Scottish accents too thick to understand without subtitles, and also writing. It is very very good and decently upsetting, as it should be.
If you, like me, are instantly charmed by an Irish accent then this show is for you. Not only does Iain Glen (of Game of Thrones friend-zoned fame) have a great Irish accent, a heavy drinking problem, and a penchant for beautiful younger women, he is also a pretty good detective. He plays Jack, a former policeman who was kicked off the force for punching an elected official in the face. For Jack, the blows rain down on him with astonishing frequency and the only option for him is to turn to the bottle and to being a boozy private detective. Full marks for charming Irish phraseology, a lot of complaining about Belfast, very topical mysteries (if you are living in Ireland, that is), and a really great coat.
Well you may not know him as the hot doctor from Bleak House, but I do! The main character in Hinterland is a Welshman who has been working as a detective in London for some time, had some personal tragedies, and is now back in his native Wales. Quite like the previous two, he is haunted by personal issues and the cases that he becomes involved in. What is most stirring about this drama is how absolutely isolated the main character always is. He is more isolated than any man I have ever seen and his struggle to deal with and possibly overcome that is as riveting as the mysteries he solves. Full marks for the Welsh countryside, shots of Matthias running on a solitary road in a blue windbreaker, and every time I hear Welsh spoken and it sounds like thunder.
So I am currently watching an episode of Wallander as I type this so my disclaimer is that I haven’t finished it all. But what I have watched is really excellent. My other disclaimer, and perhaps the most important one, is that this is not a cheery show. It is, in fact, an abysmally depressing show with few rays of hope or sunshine to lighten the picture. Wallander is a Swedish cop (although they are all British actors and speak in English but type in Swedish- which is weird and disjointed) who is so brought down by the cases he deals with that he ends up crying at least once in every episode. Kenneth Branagh plays him with masterly sorrow and great red-rimmed eyes. The cases are more bizarre than the previous shows tend to boast and they also tend to get uber-personal, something all these shows share in common. Full marks for TOM HIDDLESTON being a small but (in my mind) essential character, great shots of the wheat fields of Sweden, and how every episode is more depressing than the last. All jokes aside though, it is a great show.
As are all of these. I gave you a strong female-centered mystery list and now this one is all about the menfolk. These detectives throw heart and soul and liver into their jobs and the result is some great drama.