We occasionally mock the plethora of procedurals on TV (well, pretty much every time we mention the CSIs or the Laws and Orders of the world). However, one of us has developed a Mentalist habit of late (the other suspects that Simon Baker is actually The Joker and can’t quite go there), and we’ve always been guilty of enjoying crime stories we can pretend are classing up the joint. That’s how we get away with loving BBC mysteries like Life on Mars or Blood on the Wire and PBS attempts like the great Prime Suspect–if Helen Mirren is headlining, it has to be quality, right?
The latest BBC entrant in this derby–conveniently showing on PBS to give you double class points–is Wallander, based on a series of books that center on a Swedish police detective. So–British, public TV, and based on literature–what more could you ask? That the lead be played by Kenneth Branagh. Yes, the Kenneth Branagh who filmed Henry V and has done Woody Allen films and recently graced the London stage in a Chekhov play. He’ll class up the joint just fine–and you still get ax murders in this first episode. Wallander recently won the BAFTA for best TV drama over fare like Doctor Who, and you know how we feel about Doctor Who, so our expectations are pretty high. Premiere tonight on PBS, which requires checking your local listings.