BBC4’s Wallander – Series 2 with Krister Henriksson

BBC4 has started repeating the second series of Swedish TV’s Wallander (2009-10) on successive Saturdays at 9pm. I managed to catch up with the first episode today, having had a prior engagement with Wales’ finest, The Manic Street Preachers, in Cardiff last night (splendid as ever).

This series has Krister Henriksson in the lead role. As I’ve noted in the past, I’ve always been more partial to Rolf Lassgård’s portrayal of Wallander in the film adaptations of Mankell’s novels between 2004 and 2007. But I’ve decided to give Henriksson a proper go, having realised that I’d only caught odd episodes with him over the years, rather than watching an entire series through from start to finish.

Krister Henriksson

This Saturday’s episode (21 May), entitled ‘The Revenge’  (‘Hämnden’), begins with Wallander celebrating his move to a dream house by the sea. The party is rudely interrupted by an apparent terrorist act, the bombing of Ystad’s power-station, which plunges the town into darkness. The next morning, a man is found murdered in his home, and the rather hungover investigative team is forced to ask: are the two crimes coincidence or could they be in some way linked?

I really enjoyed this opener. Based on an original storyline rather than on one of the Mankell novels, it was well-plotted, well-written and had a few nice spine-tingler moments (keep plenty of spare torches to hand in case of a power cut, everyone). The acting was excellent, and there was promising interplay between Wallander and the rest of the team, especially trainee policewoman Isabell Melin, who challenges Wallander’s rather outdated views on gender. The episode also introduces public prosecutor Katarina Ahlsell, one of those strong female characters of whom Mrs P. is so fond (played by Lena Andre, who also plays Erika Berger in the Swedish film of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

While drawing on original material, the episode still feels very Wallander-y. Its tone is very close to that of the books, successfully incorporating social critique into the narrative of the police investigation.

And the rather morose-looking Henriksson as Wallander? Yes, alright, there’s some promise there. I’ll do my best to put Rolf to one side for now and let Henriksson do his stuff.

Episode 1 is repeated this coming Wednesday, and will be available on iplayer for another few days.

Update – 16 July. I’ve just watched the 9th episode in the series, ‘The Angel of Death’. At this point, I find that I’ve grown to appreciate Henriksson’s quieter, steadier depiction of Wallander. But oh dear, what a crazy, melodramatic conclusion this episode had! It knocked down a number of stereotypes, only to replace them with an even larger one when the murderer and his/her motivation was revealed. Tsk!

Update – 16 August I’ve just caught up on the 13th and final episode in the series, ‘Vittnet’ (The Witness), which was very good. The story focused on the trafficking and exploitation of illegal workers, and the difficulties of successfully prosecuting those at the top due to the intimidation of witnesses, as well as members of the police and judicial system (such as Wallander and Katarina). There was a nice dissection of the way that Swedish local government and firms subcontract their business for a reduced price to others, and then turn a blind eye to the horrendous working hours and conditions on their building sites. This probably sounds a bit worthy and dry, but wasn’t, as there was a strong human dimension to the storylines, and a touchingly upbeat ending, which I rather liked, having just read The Troubled Man (review to follow soon).

34 thoughts on “BBC4’s Wallander – Series 2 with Krister Henriksson

  1. I rather like Krister H’s interpretation, but I am afraid I lost it with this series. I quite liked his first series with the Linda and the other policeman (her boyfriend) but that got very silly in the last couple of episodes with the boyfriend character changing his personality completely for “contractural” reasons. This new series – don’t want to write any more here as you haven’t seen it yet, but I look forward to future discussions as you watch it. I’ve finally finished Spiral 3 by the way and I don’t think you missed anything by not watching it apart from the eye-candy! (and there was not much of that, as the two most visually attractive characters are not all that major this time round.)

    • Ooooh, shall watch with extra interest now! Spiral 3 – why in heaven’s name did no one mention the eye candy before? Though I think I know who you mean and I’m not sure even he would be enough to lure me back. Autopsy scene handled with reasonable restraint in Wallander yesterday, and was much more to my taste than the in-your-face approach of Spiral. Sheet stayed up at chin level where it belongs.

  2. Yep, the gorgeous prosecutor (me and Euro Crime) and, especially if you are Crime Scraps, the flame-haired villainess who is now trying vaguely to go straight. Mind you, I think Crime Scraps also has a soft spot for Laure but she did not half go off at a bonkers and boring tangent or two this time round. She used to be so clever compared with everyone else, now she needs re-programming! Main problem is that a once-original series has gone formulaic, the usual problem (and also a problem for me with this Wallander but time will tell if you agree).

    • Yes, I also would love to see all Lassgard’s Wallander films. BBC4 showed four of them I think, and they were excellent. How do you contact the BBC directly to ask them about this sort of thing? I find their contact pages quite baffling.

      • Hi again Stefan. BBC4 offer viewers a chance to comment on programming via the ‘Have Your Say’ page: It’s not clear to me that all comments will be passed up (ideally you’d want them to reach the commissioning editor), but a number are posted on the BBC4 webpage, and it’s probably as good a place as any to start. There are already a number of comments about the Wallander series up.

  3. For me, the Swedish Wallander is some of the best television I’ve seen for a very long time. I loved the first series (at least I think it was the first series) and have been looking forward to the repeats of what I believe to be series 2 for a long time. However, I’m rather confused.

    If this series does indeed follow directly the previous programmes, why is there no mention at all – well, only one passing reference so far – of his daughter, Linda. I am of course aware of the awful tragedy of Johanna Sallstrom and presume this series was filmed after her suicide, but I am surprised there are no references to Linda, other than the passing mention, I think, in programme 1 of this series.

    • Thanks for your comment, Norman. I didn’t actually see the first series, so this disparity passed me by. It may be that the suicide of Sallstrom in 2007 was so traumatic for all those who’d worked with her on the first series that they couldn’t bring themselves to reference Linda’s character in the second (which began filming in 2008). A very sad story.

  4. I was looking forward to watching this series current of Wallander but find I have seen them all before. There is no reference in the Radio Times to indicate that these are “Repeats” or “Previously shown…” When will we see a new series?

  5. Mrs P,
    I understand they are currently filming the final Wallander book ‘The Troubled Man’, published in UK earlier this year.
    The lovely Krister Henriksson (my fave) is apparently taking the role, which is only sensible as he played the older Wallander.
    In this, they’ve had to bring back Linda who’s partner and baby daughter are integral to the plot.
    In the novel, Wallander investigates espionage and sadly begins having memory lapses, like his father.
    Hope the BBC pick this up.

    • Thanks very much for this excellent news, Mariagatan. I can’t imagine that the BBC would pass up this opportunity given the success of the previous Wallander series. Fingers firmly crossed.

  6. ah – great to chance on this Wallander blog, while I was updating my own Wallander-fix-blog ! Krister Henriksson ambling angst is a treat to watch [but can’t compare as I haven’t seen the other Swedish actor]. Started watching the series recently – puzzled at why Jussi the lab seems to appear in some episodes and not others? Are the episodes not in any particular chronological order?

  7. How sad I am that the current series of Wallander has just finished. I would love to see some more. I enjoyed the plots, acting, filming and scenery and tried never to miss an episode. It is the only programme I am currently watching regularly.

    Please is there any chance of some more Wallander? or some repeats of things I missed before I discovered it?

    • Likewise, Mrs. Taylor. I didn’t manage to catch all of the episodes, but very much enjoyed the ones that I did see. As far as I know, there were only two series with Krister H in the lead role (did you see the first?), but I very much hope that he will return in the TV adaptation of The Troubled Man, the final Wallander novel which was published in 2009. BBC4 seems to be the place for quality international crime at the moment. The second series of The Killing is due in the autumn, for example.

  8. I fear I’m going to suffer withdrawal symptoms this Saturday. I’m sure you’re right, only two series with a final single episode in the making, I believe. I think I read that Krister H would be taking the part; I certainly hope so, he is Wallander to me.

    As Mrs P asks, Bronwyn, did you see the first series? If not, you’re enjoyment of S2 would’ve been greatly enhanced if you had, not to mention some profound sadness on learning of the subsequent suicide of Johanna Sallstrom (Linda, W’s daughter). I would strongly recommend buying the first series, if that’s possible (and subtitled), if you haven’t seen it, I rather doubt it’ll get a third showing any time soon.

  9. First series available on DVD from Amazon as a box set. First half of second series also available as a box set with second half available next month. Not cheap but considering the amount of hours of excellent TV, well worth it if you are a fan of Krister H version of Wallander.

  10. I have enjoyed watching Wallander sooooo much and I can only see Krister H in the role( big Fan) I am desperate for more because the trouble is you cannot get enough of a good thing .My Partner liked it so much that he has been buying us the Books in sequence and we have become avid Readers,I have not enjoyed reading so much for a long time but…… what will I do? without my fix of Wallander when I have read all of them,sooooo please BBC I WANT MORE.please please

    • Hi Vivien – I absolutely agree. I’m not sure if you’ve seen my recent post on the Wallander TV series in production – some news there that will be welcome: I’m glad too that the TV series led you and your partner to the books: it’s such an excellent set of novels!

  11. Why o why won’t the BBC show all of the Rolf Lassgard Wallander films from the begining, starting with “Faceless Killers” (1994). Rolf is in my opinion the best and most realistic of the three Wallanders.

    • Ooh, excellent – let battle commence! I started out very much committed to Rolf L’s portrayal, whose characterisation I think works well in the context of a screen adaptation (a slightly more louche and colourful version of the Wallander we see in the novels), and came to Krister H. much later. I didn’t warm to him immediately, but he’s grown on me – and I think his quieter portrayal of Wallander is more faithful to the figure Henning originally penned. I would now be happy to see either (but have to block the mental image of the other out for the duration). Both good, but they don’t really mix!

      • I love both Swedish versions of Wallander. To me, although they’re so different from each other, they both have a humanity and realism that most English-language dramas (and I’m not just referring to police dramas) don’t. Having said that, I enjoy Kenneth Branagh’s versions too. Let’s just enjoy having all these different interpretations! I’m also reading all the books at the moment, and it’s so interesting to see how the film and TV versions have taken different characters and storylines and changed them in various ways. Wouldn’t it be boring if a screen version was exactly the same as the book?

        Regarding the first 5 Rolf Lassgard films, I wrote to Richard Klein (Controller, BBC 4) and he sent a very nice reply, from which you’ll be interested in this:

        “The original adaptations with Rolf Lassgard…were made sporadically by different companies via separate funding arrangements from 1995 through to 2007 and I think we had to contact six separate rights holders in order to piece together the whole lot. Not all of those negotiations were successful so we have not secured the rights to all of the adaptations. However, we are still trying – I gather we have acquired all but 3, 2 of which we know for sure are now available. There’s one single episode which no one can get to the bottom of who owns it, but we’re still hopeful – so, fingers crossed, we might have all the Rolfs fairly soon!”

      • Thanks very much, Stefan. I agree with you that it’s absolutely fascinating to explore the ways in which the novels have been adapted for TV – there’s a paper to be written on that subject, for sure!

        Well done for getting in touch with Richard Klein and *many thanks indeed* for passing on his response. I hadn’t realised that the copyright situation was so complex, and of course that explains the uneven screening of the Lassgard films so far. I’m very glad to hear that BBC4 is still keen to track the last episodes down – it would be wonderful if they could do so!

        All best wishes, Mrs P.

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