In this column, I want to provide short descriptions of a particular genre of television series, the foreign detective series available on Netflix. The series I watch are both in English and in English-speaking places, and in foreign languages with subtitles. I watch foreign detective series for the pleasure of seeing a crime solved, the intellectual, emotional, and sometimes, personal toll the process demands of the detective. But, foreign series offer a glimpse, albeit fictional, into the lives of people in different cultures and geographies, for while the stories are fictional, the locations are, in the main, real. There are some programs that are set in fictional places, of course, and a few that are set in the past.
First of all, there are two Wallander series on Netflix. There is the one called “Wallander” with Kenneth Branagh as a producer, director, and lead character. This is in English and is a BBC production. In the United States, we saw it first on Masterpiece Theatre. The other one is called “Henning Mankell’s Wallander”, and this is in Swedish with subtitles. The two series are based on Henning Manskell’s character Kurt Wallander, a detective in the southern city of Malmö. The portrayals are different, but a great deal is recognizable between the two. The Branagh production tends to portray Sweden as a windswept barren land, but the Swedish production shows a vibrant European country with plenty of the old and new.