It started with murder, with The Killing to be precise; I guess along with millions of others, I was first drawn into Scandinavian TV series with ‘Forbrydelsen’, ‘The Killing’, an amazing TV series starring Sophie Gråbøl as the iconic, sweater-wearing Sarah Lund. The first series followed day by day the police investigation into a murder; there were twenty episodes covering twenty days which made it utterly gripping, and almost breath-taking in its cleverness. The acting was superb, the way it was filmed so subtle and gripping, the plot, the music, the scenery, the pace – it was just a perfect series… I must watch it again. Hooked on it I watched series II and III. I’d seen the Wallander series, and good though that was, The Killing was way ahead of it in every way. I went on to watch all the other well-known TV series, including ‘The Bridge’ and ‘Trapped’. The latter was set in Iceland, a country I’ve visited twice so I was very keen and interested to watch it for the scenery as well as the plot.
Enjoying both series of ‘Trapped’, I was excited to see another Icelandic TV series arrive here, ‘The Valhalla Murders’. Right from the start it was very dark, and I mean literally dark, in fact at points I struggled to see what was happening. I thought maybe it was because I was watching it on a small screen not a TV, but no, from what others said it was just very dark. I got confused between some of the characters early on, but thought that was the lighting, or maybe it was me. There were two main characters, Kata the local female police officer, and Arnar, a specialist (I missed what he specialised in, maybe it was profiling) from Norway. He was actually an Icelandic officer working in Norway and had a peculiar family situation which I only vaguely grasped towards the end – again, maybe it was me, but the mumbled and murmured dialogue and brief subtitles didn’t help. Each of the main characters had personal issues which didn’t dominate but added to their storyline and affected in different ways how they conducted the investigation into a gruesome murder, and then a second gruesome murder. Despite these issues, the characters seemed flat, and I just couldn’t engage with them as I had done with Sarah Lund, and Sara Norén from The Bridge – both these women were odd, outsiders, difficult personalities, but engaging. The characters in Valhalla were two dimensional – as were the ‘baddies’ who were easy to spot from the first time they appeared on the screen. The plot was fairly conventional, a person who had been abused as a child in a children’s home wreaked vengeance on the people who had tortured him, they were slimy, archetypal villains and of course, got their just deserts. I did watch it right to the end, and although I am critical of it, there was enough about it for me to follow it all. If they make another series, then I will try again, and hope the main characters present a more rounded persona.