We do like a bit of Hinterland on this site, but getting it on-screen is a tricky-old business. In fact, it’s an incredible process – Welsh-language versions are produced for S4C, and then it’s re-filmed for English-language markets, like the BBC and Netflix. It sounds like a big-old faff, but seems to make commercial sense, although the rise in Scandinavian and Nordic drama and our being fine with subtitles begs the question: why can’t we just watch stuff in Welsh? Now creator and director and Ed Thomas has had his say.
The proliferation of foreign-language crime drama is widespread these days – it seems not a day goes by without a new series starting on either Walter Presents, Channel 4 or the BBC. And, in this case, Netflix. The global, streaming behemoth springs these little surprises on us from time to time, and Bordertown is one such surprise. A Finnish drama, I wondered when it would make its way to these shores. Finally, the day is here.
We’ve heard whistles in the wind that BBC4 – once the beacon of foreign-language crime drama in its 9pm Saturday slot – is looking for things that are slightly different. This chimes with recent articles in British newspaper The Guardian, which proclaimed that Nordic Noir as we know it is dead, and that broadcasters are looking for something different to what has been available; a new twist to the genre. So, with all that in mind it’s interesting the channel has gone back to Scandinavia to buy a Swedish thriller that has a touch of the horror genre about it.
We’ve begun to watch this series through a post-ironic filter. So stilted is the acting, dialogue and so leaden the plot and direction that we are now playing a TV version of ‘are we there yet?’ by spotting scenes that look as if they’ve been lifted from classic 1970s movies – tonight’s episode included glimpses of The Graduate (the modernist church for Pam’s nuptials was a bit reminiscent of Elaine’s far more memorable wedding), sub-Mean Streets-style bantering between the cops, and a pinch from Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid’s slow-mo to freeze-frame where our plods bust into the vault before the explosion at the bank. Do you think you used enough oxy-acetylene there, Butch?
Despite its trappings of shamanism, Fortitude is in fact a good old Christian allegory – if you want any more proof than the regular references to a ‘second coming’and ‘miracles’ and Munk’s description of Dan’s actions as ‘a blessing’, you just have to look at Dan’s stigmata. Mind you, the nail-holes in his palms have healed up nicely under the influence of the wasps. But though he’s now in good standing, having brought in the body of Vladek, Dan’s clearly off his rocker, has confessed to Petra that he killed Elena, and was last seen nibbling bits of the dead Hildur. It seems he’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy.
NB: Spoilers inside
As long-time readers of this site will know, the very first series of True Detective won our inaugural award for best crime drama of the year. In fact, you could argue that it was the show inspired me to sit down and start this site. Series two, as everyone knows, wasn’t anywhere near as good as the first series, and that lukewarm critical and viewer response meant that Nic Pizzolatto’s show was put on gardening leave by is US network, HBO. Until now.
Filming has started on the fourth series of hugely solid, reliable and enjoyable BBC1 drama Shetland, which sees the return of Douglas Henshall, Alison O’Donnell, Steven Robertson, Mark Bonnar and Julie Graham alongside new faces for a six-part series filming on location in Shetland, Glasgow and Norway. Yes, you read that correctly: Norway.