Wallander

WallanderSuggested by Brad Nelson • This series follows the titular chief inspector Kurt Wallander (Krister Henriksson) as he investigates crimes and solves mysteries in the deceptively dark underbelly of picturesque modern Sweden.
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10 Responses to Wallander

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Watching this series reminded me of Mr. Kung’s experience with Father Brown. It is indeed full of some propaganda of the Left. But where does propaganda leave off and an expression of existing culture start? Surely you get both.

    Netflix currently has season 2 and 3 (but not 1) available for streaming. Episode #2 of the second season could have been titled “Pedophiles are People Too.” It’s a little more complicated than that. But leave it to the Swedes (or whomever) to find a reason to make a victim of a pedophile. (As my brother quipped when I told him this, “I thought they were the last ones it was okay to hate.”)

    I’m enjoying this series, but it’s full of this kind of European goofiness. Europeans (and, indeed, much of Western culture) now steeps itself in self-hate to some degree. In Episode #4 of season two, of course it’s the middle class white folk who show themselves to be the real menace to society. And it’s not that this episode is unwatchable. It’s actually pretty good. But whether this type of stuff is meant to be opinion-making or simply reflects opinions already ingrained, it’s doubtful that most Europeans (or Westerners) have the intellectual acumen left to even be aware of this kind of stuff. They probably don’t even notice it.

    Still, there are some very good episodes, including Episode #5 of season 2, “Cellisten,” about a cellist in a witness protection program.

    The stories are generally well-paced and credible (if full of Euro-goofiness). The characters are above average for a series of this type, as is the direction. They seem real rather than caricatures. The lead character, Wallander, is almost a disinterested cop at times. He’s low-key and even-keeled, yet smart as a whip and tenacious when he thinks he’s right.

    Many of the “social issues” will certainly reflect the European mindset. And given how extremely vulgar and unserious so much of American cinema has become, the more adult-oriented atmosphere of Wallander is appreciated and often refreshing.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’ve watched a few more episodes of Mats Wilander (as I call it) — ten in all, of Season Two. And political correctness was a big factor mostly in the first couple of episodes I watched. Other than that, it isn’t too thick, with a couple running exceptions. And there have actually been two or three of what I would call “excellent” episodes. But several of the episodes, excellent or not, have been marred by some writing of implausible stuff that happens at the very end. Let me give you a brief summary of the episodes:

    Hämnden: Europeans, including film makers, seem to go out of their way to find ways to say “Muslims aren’t a problem.” This episode, although otherwise interesting, is full of that. When some kind of un-PC display of Islamic images goes on display at some art museum, it’s not Muslims who cause the violence. Europeans keep programming themselves with this fanciful lie even while the Muslims are trying to kill them. It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.

    Skulden: This episode could be titled “Pedophiles are people too.” It’s not that the writers don’t make a subtle point. It’s that in the European lexicon, there are no bad guys other than straight white Swedish males. But otherwise this is an interesting episode.

    Kuriren: One of the better episodes. It’s about bikers and drug running and a very dangerous underworld. Rookie cops Svartman (aka “pussy boy”…you’ll see why in later episodes) and Isabelle begin to get into the thick of the action. For a while, the development of the Svartman character is superb. Wallander (Mats) is busting his balls…and for good reason. Svartman has “issues,” shall we say, particularly with his father (which are dealt with in a later episode…one of the very good ones). But then (in the later episodes that I’ve watched), Svartman is often just a stage prop.

    Tjuven: Another look into the European psyche. There are no bad guys except white males who are gung-ho about law and order. A bunch of neighborhood break-ins lead to tragedy as the local Neighborhood Watch Group nabs the wrong guy. Other than this bit of eye-rolling plot point, it’s actually a pretty good episode. But suffice it to say, it will be rare in the Mats Wilander series to see anyone other than a white male Swedish businessman do anything illegal.

    Cellisten: This is by far the best episode I’ve seen — and one marred by some really stupid writing. If you want police protection, do not go to Sweden, or at least to Mats Wilander’s precinct. But other than that, it’s an interesting story about a concert cellist who is in a witness protection program…kinda-sorta (she still does public concerts, so how protected can it be? Answer: Not very). But this is a thoughtful, even artful episode where the character of Wallander shines. This really is the strength of the show. Krister Henriksson does not go over-the-top in his portrayal of Wilander. He’s realistic. You can believe this is a real cop in Sweden. It’s interesting that the Netflix summary listing for this series describes Mats as a “brooding cop.” But he’s not. He’s simply a sober cop. And in this age of trivial emotions and ideas, I suppose he might seem brooding because he’s not jumping up and down all the time making a fool of himself. But that’s not brooding. If you’re looking for a brooding cop, see the excellent series: Jesse Stone.

    Prästen: Another obnoxious anti-business bit of propaganda. Oh, and they take many stale shots at religion as well. This is a gadgety plot and not one of the better episodes that I’ve watched.

    Läckan: This was a good episode, marred by some implausible plot points. Either that or the police in Sweden are really as incompetent as portrayed in this episode. But it’s a fun episode in the way it unfolds. Tip: If you’re jogging in the woods and suddenly bullets start zinging off the tree trunk near you, do not turn around and say, “Hello? Who’s there?” This series portrays the Swedes as little more than sheep much of the time. And perhaps that is an accurate portrayal. I don’t know.

    Skytten: This is an episode that might have come out of Goodfella’s…or The Princess Bride (but I won’t give too much away). There’s a sniper about town and he’s taking out some bad guys. Pontus (pussy boy) gets deeply involved in this one. And if you laugh at some of the inaction of our cops in America, perhaps you see where they get it. In this episode, Pontus releases his inner Clint Eastwood and — gasp — actually tries to run down and capture a sniper who is in the middle of sniping. But he gets in big trouble with Mats Wilander because he disobeyed orders to “wait for backup.” Cops are always “waiting for backup.” The story of the Columbine school shootings is a horrendous and monstrous example of this mentality. Needless to say, Pontus (pussy boy) is growing on me. But his character switches from being developed to being simply a fill-in puppet. I suspect it’s not the same writers doing each episode or else you might see more coherent (and thus interesting) development of the characters. But as it is, it’s very hodgepodge.

    Dödsängeln: A laughably stupid episode obviously written by a hack. If you haven’t figured out who-done-it after the first half hour, resign your badge in the Amateur Sleuth’s Club. But at least (spoiler alert) it is one of those very rare times when the bad guy is not a white male Swedish businessman. This one turns out to be a lesbian white female choir teacher. A lesbian! How did they get that past the censors?

    Vålnaden: This is where I have left off. I just got done watching this yesterday. Not a particularly good episode. But, thank god, at least you have yet more evil businessmen to kick around. The Europeans never get tired of this theme apparently.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I find myself wondering how you made it through all these episodes. I gave up on reading about them after a few. Fortunately, it’s still a while until I have lunch.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Well, the characters are pretty good, for starters. I think Wallander is a solid character. And it’s sort of a laid-back program. I get a little tired of the over-acted and over-dramatized Americanized versions. Give the Swedes their due. They can paint in brush strokes other than vulgar, brash, and loud. And God bless the director for not aping the horrendous practice of never-ending camera shakes and other hyperactive movement.

        I’m stating the show as I see it, warts and all. I don’t expect that there are many people out there who demand completely PC-free content. That would be a boring world indeed. I find much of it humorous to some degree. And if a businessman is a bad guy once in a while, well, there really are bad businessmen out there.

        But I’d love to see a cop show where many of the bad guys were social workers, or whatever. I’d love to see a show that took an honest look at the ugly underbelly of homosexuality, for instance. No, the homosexuals don’t necessarily have to be the bad guys. Life is more complicated than that. And it’s too bad that many shows aren’t more complicated and nuanced.

        But Wallander is certainly a show for adult sensibilities. This is, from what I’ve seen so far, not your typical fare produced by the usual nose-picking yutes who have no taste and only one note (a Spinal Tap 10). There is some subtlety and substance to it.

  3. Lee M. says:

    Having been a cop in the US and a huge fan of intricate dramas, I still like the entire series quite a bit. I watched all 3 seasons Hulu has 1, then Netflix for the last 2, I admire the nuanced intricay of most of the writing. I have actually learned Swedish and Danish from watching their cop shows and have spotted some consistent PC propaganda as a somewhat annoying occassional interruption to an otherwise awesome series. The consistent subliminal messages are:

    1) our cops are only violent when they really, really have to…
    2) everyone in Scandinavia is looking to hook up with one another (everyone is in heat 24/7 from Wallander to his daughter and everyone else)
    3) the most innocent and wholesome looking people are the real bad guys
    4) even though we know better, we never tell our fellow officers where we are, where we are going, and that you are about to go talk to your suspected murderer.
    5) as the most beuatiful people in the world, we have really screwed up family lives and drink a lot.

    Even with all that, the episodes are remarkably well written and seem to get more polished with cinematography and music score with the latest seasons. The Scandinavian sensibility of character development for all the main characters is excellent as is the drama. Another great series in the protectors (Danish) on Hulu. More realistic as a cop show and a little grittier.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Judging from events Saturday, I suspect that the Danish police are hesitant to use violence even when it’s needed.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Very well said, Lee. I mean, what can I say?

      Your point #3 is right on. If you are a hard-working, clean-cut, white, male Swede you may be criminal material for an episode of Wallander. This is so consistently so that I find it rather funny. Have they note blacks in Sweden? Have they no Muslims? Have they no evil imports from New Guinea? Okay, I think once in a while you get some bad guys from the continent, such as from Poland.

      I don’t have an exact count, but most of the criminals are businessmen involved in some illegal activity. Get it? Capitalism corrupts people. And in case you missed that, don’t worry. They’ll tell you in so many ways again, and again, and again. And if one of the suspects is a woman, is gay, is a pedophile, has already served time in prison — then scratch them off you list. It’s almost assured they’re either a red herring or will be portrayed as a victim.

      Still, I nearly fell off my chair when in one episode, at the end, an America naval commander told Wallander that much of the fault belonged to Sweden (for some submarine incident back in the 60’s or 70’s) because Sweden not only was neutral be appeared to be cozying up to the Soviets. (They certainly did so to some extent with the Nazis.)

      I honestly don’t understand how that made it into the series. I think the only way it could have is that it played to the modern white-male narrative of self-guilt.

      Yes, the episodes (other than the inane Leftist content) are generally well done. The characters are subtle, not over the top which is the American standard. I like Nyberg, for example, although he’ll excite no one. Martinsson is another good character, although they give him very little to do. Svartman becomes (unintentionally? I’m still not sure) funny in season 2 (perhaps 3 as well) as he seems to be auditioning to be the stupidest cop on the series. And I do think he wins that award, but he has some stiff competition.

      Thanks for the recommendation of “The Protectors.” I’ll check it out.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Note that Slavs are often blond, and can thus look much like Swedes. And there is a big problem with Muslim trouble-makers in Malmo, and probably other cities. On the other hand, maybe the police simply ignore them and let them commit all the crimes they want, which would explain both why they have such problems and why Wallander would ignore them. I wish I could be sure that was a joke.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          And there is a big problem with Muslim trouble-makers in Malmo, and probably other cities.

          Timothy, I think it was the first show of season two (or thereabouts) that featured violence that was happening around some kind of art show that was not complimentary to Muslims. It showed Muslims (peacefully, if loudly) protesting outside the exhibit for days.

          But all around town a series of car bombs went off. Wallander and crew investigate. And not even yet having gained much familiarity with the show, it was obvious to me that the point of the plot would be to show that any fears about unassimilated Muslims in your country are completely over-blown and that the real perpetrators of violence are of the home-grown — and usually those driven by the profit motive. And that’s exactly what the show turned out to be.

          One of the unusual things about “Wallander” is that it is a rare instance where Dennis Prager’s almost infallible law is not fully in effect. That law is “Everything the Left touches it makes worse.” That has long been my way of thinking as well. I believe that many movies are so stupid, dull, and unintentionally funny because the Leftist/Progressive narrative (which takes hold of the mind) pre-filters out much of the stuff that makes for good story-telling. They’re generally hemmed inside their narratives. But in the case of “Wallander” they still do find a way to present good characters and drama . . . almost despite themselves.

          I don’t mind if some killer is a white Swedish businessman and the victim is some poor homosexual. Such things happen. But it’s a bit of a joke when never the reverse happens. Then you know you’re not looking at art as much as you are experiencing a type of willing propaganda.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            This is actually the sort of thing the Hollywood agents of Stalin did for the most part. They didn’t explicitly propagandize for communism; they simply made sure that their scenarios tacitly supported the cause. Ayn Rand (who supported the HUAC hearings and testified willingly at them) once worked up a list of specific examples.

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