There was an article in a recent edition of The Independent, where the paper’s excellent TV correspondent, Gerard Gilbert, made the proclamation, “Step aside Scandi thrillers, here comes Wales“, in reference to a new four-part Welsh series called Hinterland. Having seen the first few episodes I’m not sure we’re not sure we’d go that far in requesting Scandinavian thrillers to be cast aside, but Hinterland is still well worth a watch.
One of the interesting things about the series is that it, as Gilbert rightly says, has already been snapped up by Danish broadcaster and home to The Killing, The Bridge et al, DR. So, it must be good, right? Well, yes it is. Very good.
When you’ve seen Hinterland and then read the news story that DR has snapped up the broadcasting rights to show it in its native Denmark, it makes perfect sense. Some of the cinematography is incredible and the Welsh landscapes utterly fantastic. The story? There’s actually nothing too new or different about it – it feels like a fairly standard procedural with a stern-faced and potentially troubled cop, DCI Tom Mathias (Richard Harrington), in charge of a murder investigation in a barren but beautiful part of mid-Wales.
At a feature-length one hour and 40 minutes, this is something to luxuriate in (as far as you can luxuriate in anything to do with murder). It draws you in, takes its time telling the story and features so much atmosphere and lush, green landscape you practically feel the droplets of rain on your neck and moss under foot.
The disappointing thing about Hinterland is the scheduling. Monday night feels like a bit of a strange slot for a new drama BBC4. No, it’s not an entirely foreign-language drama (although it is bilingual) but this would have been perfect to hunker down with in the Saturday night slot on BBC4. The fact that it has already been snapped up by esteemed broadcasters like DR and Netflix (who will be broadcasting it in North America), and has already been commissioned for second series, would suggest that there’s a lot going for it. And we agree – its sombre mood and brooding atmospherics draw you in, the story is strong (enough) and the cast of characters engaging.
But Monday night? We just hope it doesn’t get buried, because this could develop into a bit of a gem.
Hinterland: Monday 28th April, 9pm, BBC4