When Henning Mankel first started writing the Wallander series of novels there was no indication of the eventual success that would be seen in the UK for the differing TV versions being shown.
Of course the BBC's own version starring Kenneth Brannagh is best known and it does indeed have a lot to recommend it. It has the sense to keep things in Sweden and Brannagh himself lends a suitably melancholic air to the hapless Kurt.
The original Kurt was played in great fashion by Rolf Lassgard as a lovable, hopeless oaf who shambled about with little regard for those about him, a quick temper and a sharp eye for detail.
The version of Wallander in this box set is, for me anyway, far and away the best. Krister Henriksson plays Kurt, not as a man completely lost, but rather as a man whose life has ground him down gradually over the years until the accumulation of his daughters teenage suicide attempt, his wifes desertion, his difficult father and guilt over a killing early into his career have finally left him exhausted and bewildered.
Alongside him is his daughter Linda, her boyfriend and the various characters who appear every series.
This is not a series for those looking for an easy and light hearted police procedural. Whereas the BBC's effort see's washed out primary blue's and yellow's splashed about the screen this see's a palette of brown & grey that rises from the flat, endless farmland towards glowering skies, clouded and heavy with rain.
Ystad is a grim town almost always buried by winter and fighting a losing battle with a darkness that prevails both physically and mentally.
The crimes are horrid, grisly and are always the result of tawdry and sad events that could have been avoided.
While Henriksson's Kurt is rightly lauded by those who love this version it is surely Johanna Sallstrom's work as Kurt's daughter Linda that is the pivot upon which this version moves so well.
Sallstrom is almost effortless in her depiction of a woman fighting to be accepted in her own right as a detective but always desperately hoping for the warmth and affection from a father who simply cannot deliver. Her past hangs over her and as she fumbles a relationship with a difficult colleague/ boyfriend you always feel she is close to breaking.
That Sallstrom took her own life in 2007 following a losing battle with depression just deepens the feeling of sadness. Certainly this is a worthy tribute to an actress whose work in these 7 episodes is a testimony to talent & depth of feeling.
The box set contains the first 7 episodes of the first series: `Before the frost', `The village idiot','The brothers','The overdose','The African','Mastermind' &'The tricksters'.
It's presented in anamorphic widescreen with removable English subtitles. I don't know if there will be any extra's.
There isn't a poor episode here,(I haven't seen a bad one in any of them frankly), and the length of time for each one allows for excellent development and characterisation.
The pace is perfect and as you begin to see more & more episodes the moments of introspection build up an understanding of each person's life and draws the watcher in deeper.
The acting is excellent throughout from the main characters clear through to the actors appearing for the briefest moments.
There are many excellent police drama's out there and even the other versions of Wallander are well worthy of your time but this is, for me, the best there is.
Bleak, thoughtful and beset by sadness throughout.
Outstanding, moving and recommended with no hesitation.