The first season of this version of Wallander was a revelation. Tight scripting alongside excellent acting from all members of the cast with a moody and silent Sweden as a backdrop. What could go wrong?
Well disaster struck in the tragic loss of a major cast member and along with her went that certain something, that spark of magic that had made the franchise so very watchable.
Don't get me wrong, this is still way above the average cop show but from here on in Wallander began to diminish and slowly but surely lost it's way.
Krister Henrikkson remains cool and detached and refuses to give a bad performance but the same cannot always be said of those around him or indeed the scripting of their characters.
Two new recruits join up but are caught in a repeat cycle of being caught or shot & of constantly disobeying orders. A new boss appears in the form of a public prosecutor who Kurt clearly has the hots for but any relationship is quickly snuffed out. She, conveniently, moves in next door to Kurt's new home by the sea and not an episode goes by without Kurt walking his dog Jussi by her house and wistfully looking over. It would seem that both his new pet & new house are little more than rather clunky excuses for the writers to get our hero near to his new love interest. The failure to develop any backstory or result, one way or another, just makes it all a bit pointless.
An effort has also been made to revamp everything. Kurt has dyed orange hair and jeans along with a pair of aviators he wears whenever he's out and about. It all rather goes to make him look like a sad old git going through a mid-life crisis. Not that this ever stops Henrikkson from stealing every scene he's in. This is still his show and he remains the master at conveying so much through silence and a slow, knowing nod of the head. In fact it's his acting skills that keep everything afloat as the writers seem to sense just a few episodes in that all is not going well and decide to up the ante. The plots become pedestrian so more violence is thrown in, at one point poor old Svartman is tied to a chair & a set of jump cables have a battery at one end & his nuts on the other!
At the same time as the violence is ramped up so is the language. One episode has the strongest language I've ever seen, (subtitles), in any 'made for TV' programme.
Eventually though nothing really seems to be enough to bring back the old magic. It's still good television but it's no longer great. Characters background stories are often started but then just abandoned and where has the superb feeling of sadness & emptiness gone?
Two years, the time between the 1st series & the 2nd, is not long but events have conspired to simply leave things a pale shadow of before. The other worldliness of the Swedish countryside is replaced with the concrete jungle of the town and quite frankly it could be anywhere. The mystery has been lost and really it all comes down to balance. Whereas before we had a father/ daughter struggle and the clumsy attempts by both to love and communicate the whole show now relies simply on the one character and just appears lost.
This is the first half of the 2nd series, ( heaven forbid the customer not be fleeced blind in an effort to squeeze every last krone ), and these episodes slowly decline in quality as they progress.
It's still Wallander but not in all his glory, Henrikkson still shines but that's despite the writers attempts to undermine his credibility far too often. Elsewhere the plots become generic, the support cast are underwritten with some of the villains ridiculously melodramatic.
There are still a whole host of TV cops not fit to tie even this lower quality Wallanders shoelaces but be prepared for a steady decline.
The series never resorts to jumping the shark, at it's lowest points it still has class, but everything & everyone seems to be going through the motions.
The spark had left and there was simply no way to reignite what had gone before.