Made between 2005-2006 you would be forgiven for expecting the second half of a series to be the same as the first.
However everything about episodes 8 -13 of this first series is darker, sadder & tougher. The storylines for a start, a container full of dead immigrants, a child witnessing the murder of her mother & an 11 year old boy being murdered give a little indication of a grim turn for the worse that the cases take.
So too the characters begin a spiral downwards in their personal lives, Kurt continues to make a mess of his relationship with his daughter who herself see's her relationship with Stefan end messily & unhappily. Linda herself gets caught up in one case and we see a rare moment of Kurt actually showing affection.
Ystad continues to be a bleak backdrop and the surrounding countryside is made to look even more dark and menacing than before.
The more miserable things become though the more gripping Wallander becomes. This isn't just car crash television this is multiple car pile up telly in slow motion. These people are just so dysfunctional & yet trying so hard to be normal & just to survive. Even Linda's boyfriend Stefan, who is a prize git, is difficult to hate.
This forcing the viewer to invest in the characters is a combination of excellent scripting & believable acting. It's just impossible not to like them.
The stories are also a huge draw. The blurb on the box states this is a film collection but in truth only one episode, `The Secret', was released in cinemas. Yet the film length is what allows so much space for development & details that add to the depth & atmosphere.
This collection see's the final appearances by Johanna Sallstrom and really marks the end of this style of Wallander. Although Henrikkson returned in 2008 to do another series it was very different in style and many of the stock characters from this 1st series went. For me there is no doubt that the 1st 13 episodes are easily the best and the whole franchise took on a very sombre and at times almost surreal tone afterwards. Although still excellent the chemistry & that certain something that made the first series so great went missing once Hallstrom was lost.
The only subtitles would appear to be English & the set-up seems to be the same as before in a no thrills package.
For fans this is undoubtedly a must have but I have to say I feel that when you put the cost of the whole 2 set 1st series package together at over sixty pounds that the fans are being a little stung. Considering the entire 2 series can be bought for less than that on download this is a bit steep.
It would be nice to see the original Rolf Lassgard Wallander given a release too. His was a totally different take & is well worth a watch if you can find it anywhere.
This whole franchise seems to lend itself happily to all sorts of interpretations and still come out looking good. Henrikkson remains my favourite and series one the best of the lot.
Fans will already have pre-ordered & if your just interested then start at the beginning. If you've a taste for depth & insight with your detectives then you can't go wrong. I would also happily recommend the brain twisting thrill ride that is 'The Killing' too.
The Scandinavian police invasion is well & truly in full flow and continues to deliver some top class entertainment. Long may it continue!