Wallander's on a go-slow

Kenneth Branagh stars in the new series of Wallander on BBC1
Kenneth Branagh stars in the new series of Wallander on BBC1
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Some things, we know, are fast. A Ferrari is fast, so is Usain Bolt. A cheetah is the fastest mammal on earth. Time flies when you’re having fun, we’re told.

The modern world is fast, too. We’re always connected via various mobile ‘devices’, work can get hold of us at a moment’s notice, newspaper opinion pieces bemoan that there are never enough hours in the day, why can’t we just slow down?

Well, now you can. Just sit in front of an episode of Wallander (BBC1, Sundays, 9pm) and the world will cease spinning on its axis, seconds will turn into minutes, minutes into hours.

It’s not just slow, it’s glacially slow, which I suppose is appropriate, given it’s based on a series of Swedish crime novels.

Kenneth Branagh is Kurt Wallander, a troubled detective –aren’t they all?

He investigates crimes in a beautiful Swedish town, but this episode took Wallander to South Africa, where he was attending a conference. While there, South African police asked for his help to investigate the disappearance of a Swedish national, who had emigrated with her god-fearing husband.

This being a fictional detective series, and Wallander being troubled and bit of a maverick and what-have-you, he can’t resist sticking his nose in where it doesn’t belong, and uncovers all sorts of corruption in post-apartheid South Africa.

All of this unfolds at funereal pace, with plenty of staring into the distance, uncomfortable silences and quite a bit of head-scratching.

Branagh is terrific, and this particular episode was shot beautifully, making full use of the expansive South African vistas, but such was its sloth-like pacing, it was difficult to stay awake.

The polar opposite of Wallander is Preacher (AMC, streaming now on Amazon Prime).

An adaptation of a graphic novel, it’s cartoonish, ribald, packed with gore and had charismatic performances from Dominic Cooper and Chorley’s Joseph Gilgun.

The stand-out performance was from Ruth Negga as Tulip O’Hare, a gun-toting, wise-cracking feminist anti-hero, who stole every scene she was in.

So on a Sunday night, give yourself a thrill with Preacher, then take yourself off to bed with your tablet, and Wallander will lull you into a deep sleep, leaving you refreshed to take on Monday morning.