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Depressing from Denmark

Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell, the pen behind Swedish detective Wallander, have a lot to answer for.

Thanks to the critical and popular success of films such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Kenneth Branagh’s misery guts of a detective Inspector Kurt Wallander it seems that TV executives across the country have become obsessed with hunting down the latest TV schedule fashion accessory - a Scandinavian TV drama depressing enough to make you slit your own wrists.

ITV3 has capitalized on the trend with the acquisition of Those Who Kill, a new six part Danish crime series from Entertainment One Television which has sold to over 25 countries. 
 
Billed as a compelling dark crime series Those Who Kill is follows the investigations of a special unit of Copenhagen’s police force specialising in identifying serial killers that do not fit within traditional behavioural patterns. Their aim? To uncover the psychology of violent killers.

Cheery stuff, which TV executives assume will appeal to those who delighted in the forensic dissection of a 20 day murder investigation in The Killing and Borgen, in which Denmark’s first female prime minister attempts to strike a largely unsuccessful balance between her domestic and political life.

If there’s one thing that unites our latest crop of Scandinavian dramas it’s that they all glory in gloom, obsessed with murder and the less upbeat aspects of human nature.

If its got double D appeal – depressing and from Denmark – it must be good.

Although the critics can’t seem to get enough of them I’m left wondering if they really are as good as they are cracked up to be?

I personally have trouble taking Borgen seriously. It's certainly no-where near as credible as The West Wing as a drama about the reality of contemporary politics.

How, for instance, can a woman who struggles to find a nanny become the Danish PM? 

One reason why fans have to seek out their Scandinavian drama in the more unfamiliar schedules of BBC4 and ITV3 is that BBC1 or ITV1 tend to be reserved (with the exception of Branagh’s Wallander) for frothier fare such as Call the Midwife or Wild at Heart - a more traditional dramatic antidote to the hardships of a British winter.

Personally I can get enough of the less upbeat aspects of human nature with a five minute online update from the Leveson Inquiry. If I want misery I can cycle home in the cold on my bike.  Bring on the midwives!






Posted 09 February 2012 by David Wood
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