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Wallander brings Stieg Larsson styled Swedish crime drama to PBS

Dave Masko's picture

Kenneth Branagh breathed an exasperated sigh during a “Wallander” murder scene from this Swedish detective series that returns to PBS Masterpiece Mystery Sunday.

He slouched out, bleary-eyed and weary – as Swedish cop Kurt Wallander often appears in the new “Wallander III” series - that returns to PBS “Masterpiece Mystery” on Sept. 9, at 9 ET/CT, with the famed British actor Kenneth Branagh portraying what’s been called in both England and America “the toughest cop on TV.” It’s no wonder the series has been given such kudos since this British import has earned both Emmy and Golden Globes. In addition, a preview for the new third series explains how “Wallander returns with a fragile state of mind, but the same old demons;” while a murder investigation takes him far from home to the icy north regions of Sweden where evil lurks in the same way as Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium series.”

Larsson exposed nasty crimes in Sweden

Before Stieg Larssson’s strange death in 2004, he wrote about being a fan of the Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell who created Swedish cop Kurt Wallander to “go up against the evil that men do.” Larsson’s fear, like those of Mankell, was “how society would not believe that men can do such horror to others when still going about their lives as respectable business people with families of their own.”

Thus, there’s no crime fighter on television today with the same dull throb of grief in his eyes as the great Shakespearian stage actor Kenneth Branagh who must deal – as Detective Kurt Wallander - with crimes that are as horrible as any of Larsson’s “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest” series, and equally revealing about “conservative men in suits” who still conduct Nazi-styled torture in their basements and work sheds at night.

Also, Detective Kurt Wallander is often quoted during episodes of the series saying: “These are our lives. And they’re fragile. Precarious. Miraculous. They’re all we have.”

At the same time, Sunday’s first episode of “Wallander III” titled “An Event in Autumn” reveals even more brutal crimes that seem to stir-up the “demons inside Wallander.”

Wallander III features top women stars supporting Branagh

Fans of the Wallander series will also note that Branagh is reunited with “Wuthering Heights” star Sarah Smart as “detective Anne-Britt Hoglund,” while Jeany Spark also returns as Wallander’s long-suffering daughter Linda.

So it’s no wonder that Branagh in this Wallander role now for four years – with a fourth series in the works – that his character’s weariness seems to grow in Wallander III; while the look on his character’s face is too drained to acknowledge the latest horror in the icy far north regions of Sweden.

In turn, the Sunday, Sept. 9 episode is titled “An Event in Autumn,” while this series three of Wallander continues Sept. 16 with the episode “The Dogs of Riga,” and then again on Sept. 23 with the episode titled “Before the Frost.”

Branagh reveals how tough it is to play Wallander

For an inside look into how this great Oscar-nominated actor gets into his role of Kurt Wallander, real-life actor Kenneth Branagh tells “Masterpiece Mystery” on PBS that this role has taken a real personal and physical toll on him because “I tend to become the person I’m playing.”

Thus, the official “Masterpiece” biography for this fictional Wallander character has Branagh portraying someone who is frequently at loose ends socially and emotionally with his family.

For instance, after the breakup of his marriage – both Wallander’s and in real-life for Branagh – he has a sort of mental and physical breakdown that Branagh says in real-life can happen to “method actors” such as himself.

Thus, Branagh is worried about the recent series two and now three of Wallander where this fictional character is diagnosed with both diabetes and developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Wallander is “cold-souled” drama at its best

In turn, Wallander – the Swedish pronunciation is “val’ lan: der” – must deal with the cold and snow of Sweden’s far north country to hunt down evil murders; while facing his own mental demons and his growing physical health woes that has poor old Kurt Wallander dazed and confused about who is doing what as he fights to save his own life.

Thus, this BBC “Wallander series” doesn’t play; it’s as series as a heart-attack and on many levels captures that same very strange and cold-souled view of evil men who do horrible things to women along the lines of what Stieg Larsson exposed in his “Millennium series.”

The Wallander Series III premiers on “Masterpiece Mystery” on Sunday, Sept. 9 at 9/8c., with PBS advising fans to check local listings. Wallander returns again each Sunday during September with new episodes in this series three that’s already aired in England.

Image source of Kenneth Branagh in a scene from the PBS “Masterpiece Mystery” series Wallender that returns on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET. Photo courtesy Wikipedia


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