In the UK we have been enjoying our recent Saturday nights watching Detective Martin Beck (Peter Haber, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) and his team investigate suspenseful cases that blur the lines between the team’s professional and private lives.
Next to a murdered journalist and police officer, Beck has had to deal with personnel changes. Unpopular Police supervisor Klas Fredén (Jonas Karlsson) decides to go over Beck’s head and to recruit charismatic, Norwegian homicide investigator, Steinar Hovland (Game of Thrones’ Kristofer Hivjul). Possibly the best thing he has done in the series, although Klas may not agree once he realises that Steinar is definitely not one for sucking up to the boss. Like his predecessor Gunvald Larssson (Mikael Persbrandt) Steinar is a bit of an enigma. He doesn’t always play by the book and much of personal life is a bit of a grey area. My favourite line from a tense Steinar was along the lines of ‘I must relax soon, you know, with alcohol.’
Some readers will know that the series is based on the characters of the hugely popular Martin Beck detective novels by Swedish husband-and-wife writers Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. They are quite different from the books however and we would suggest that both books and TV series should be explored on their own merits. The TV series features the thrilling combination of complex woven details of police procedure and beautifully realised characters. The books also have well written characters and solid story lines but the pacing is a little slower. They were written in the 60’s – no desktop computers and mobile phones, making police work much more labour intensive.
The award-winning series continues to grow from strength to strength with a dedicated following perhaps in much the same way that Wallander did. Series like Beck and Wallander are TV gold. Each episode is a complete story and the characters are so well written and acted that the audience can dip in and out of the series without watching every week (although why you would want to miss any is a mystery!) Beck particularly, is probably a great introduction to high quality Swedish tv crime drama.
The last episode in this box set is of course, the last episode of a series which has run for 20 years in Sweden. Beck will be missed but perhaps it will re-appear on our screen occasionally the way Montalbano or Wallander does on BBC4. As for the last episode, it is a good one. We are not left with too many unanswered questions, it is not a negative ending, but a satisfying one. I love good closure.
Beck – The Series Volume Two will be released on DVD on Monday 10th October 2016.