A primer is a base coat of paint, sometimes easily omitted or forgotten in our haste to get a job done. But such base coats form an important layer for all subsequent coats of paint. A base coat to prime an audience. And so to the Killing a series which with it’s strong female lead, it’s twists and turns, and its musical primings formed staple for many of us, something to look forward to, something to structure a week or day around. Something to rewatch, to glimpse again those moments of tension and magic. To glimpse again moments of darkness and fear. Not an easy act to follow, the Killing. And so to Arne Dahl a programme which suffered from being in the shadow of the Killing. Some liked it, others did not, as is the way with TV drama. Those who disliked spoke only of it’s weaknesses, the two part format, it’s lack of musicality, it’s lack of a strong female lead, it’s lack of characterisation, its clichedness and so on and so on. Not easy then to like Arne Dahl in a climate of critique. But Arne Dahl had it’s riches they were just not in the style of the Killing, it was crafted in a different style without a lead. The focus was on the group, the collective as a motley crew of likeable, fun loving detectives. Sorrow there was, and a tad too much violence but still a Nordic offering that gave us a different perspective on Nordic as we know it and have come to love it. Lacking the narrative complexity of the Killing, and cut much in the style of an old cop show, my mind and others was taken to New Tricks. And that’s what Arne Dahl offered up a lighter shade of Nordicness, a formula which appeared overly formulaic and which suffered from our priming to the new ways of the Killing. But nevertheless a group of characters to while away a few hours of life with, good company for those in need of companionship and the feeling that if there are strangers and dangerous folk out there perhaps these guys will sort it. Not in a slick Dirty Harry kind of way, but in a more comedic way, bumbling along with their hair-brain ideas for resolution. If it’s true that the world’s going up in flames, these guys won’t be much cop.
Nordic Prime, in defence of Arne Dahl by Arto R Schultz (Guest Blogger)