If someone was to have told you thirty years ago that Scandinavia was going to be home to the world’s best crime fiction, they would probably be arrested for crimes against common sense.
Yet here we are with Jo Nesbo and Stig Larssen all over the airport bookstores and Wallander all over our TV screens.
The trend has become so pronounced it has actually entered the home of the crime genre itself – America.
The Killing (Forbrydelsen), a Danish crime drama, has actually been remade in the US and by now many of us have had a chance to compare and contrast the copy with the original.
The obvious conclusion any one with half a brain cell would reach is that Forbrydelsen is better.
One very large reason for this is the 1st Danish series lasts for 20 episodes which allows the investigation to reach a conclusion. In the US versions it only gets 13 episodes meaning that the viewer is left hanging until season 2. Naturally this effects the way the US season develops. I find it a bit mystifying as to why having purchased a successful property, the makers of the US version didn’t move heaven and earth to replicate the same series length.
The other thing that is very noticeable is the lack of tension in the US version. Whereas the slow build works for Forbrydelsen, for ‘The Killing ‘it’s less effective. Maybe this is due to the fact that US TV is not too familiar with the slow build model and when it has to do it gets it ever so slightly wrong.
You might point to a series like ‘The Wire’ as an example of a slower paced series that the US has done brilliantly, but I would say in response that there is still a fair deal of action in ‘The Wire’ and ever-present threat of violence hangs in the Baltimore air.
I’m still interested to see how the US version develops mainly because Seattle where it is set, is a city I have lived in and know well but I don’t think I’m going to change my opinion of their relative merits.