For two straight Sundays, it will be easy to name the best show on TV. These are in the "Wallander" series -- richly crafted movies starring Kenneth Branagh as a Swedish detective.
Those run Oct. 3 and 10 in most areas, Oct. 10 and 17 in Lansing. Here's a story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
Imagine you're Kenneth Branagh and
you've conquered almost everything.
You've had four Oscar nominations, four
Emmy nominations and more. Onscreen, you've been a king, a prince, a
president, two colonels amd a major general, plus D.H. Lawrence and
Is there anything left that overwhelms
“I was directing Tony Hopkins for the
first time,” Branagh said, catching himself. “Listen to me –
'Tony Hopkins.' Sir Anthony Hopkins. And I didn't really sleep the
night before …. I was intimidated.”
That was for “Thor,” with Branagh
as director. Now “Wallander,” on PBS' “Masterpiece Mystery,”
has him as an actor and producer. The two are exact opposites –
except that both are terribly Scandinavian.
“There's something about coming from
those Northern lands,” said Branagh, 49, who grew up as a
carpenter's son in Ireland. “It's a big country, small population.
The seasons and the weather are extreme and the possibility for the
interior life is great.”
That's the life the fictional Kurt
Wallander inhabits. A homicide cop, he feels everything deeply. “You
will see Ken in all his colors as an actor,” said “Masterpiece”
producer Revecca Eaton.
That starts with Wallander's
self-doubts. “He is vulnerable every time,” Branagh said. “He
is compelled by this painful necessity to ask why people perform acts
of cruelty and murder and violence.”
In this season's second film (Oct. 10),
Wallander condemns himself for a shooting; in the first (Oct. 3), he
worries about sub-conscious racism.
“He's not a fully formed individual,”
Branagh said. “He regards the idea of him being any form of racist
as … morally reprehensible. And yet, he's forced to understand
certain knee-jerk reactions.”
He is, in short, a complex character,
for a complex actor.
– “Masterpiece Mystery,” 9 p.m.
Sundays on most PBS stations (check local listings)
– “Wallander” films are Oct. 3
and 10. in the Lansing, Mich., area, however, WKAR (Channel 23) is still catching up from the pledge drive; the first "Wallander" film airs at 10:30 p.m. Oct. 10, the secon on Oct. 17.