These days, it seems you can split the police procedural into two or three distinct categories.
There’s the by-the-numbers, sleepy English town, murder at the vicaraget type, such as Lewis or Midsomer Murders, which are massive ratings winners.
Then there are the gorefests, like Luther or Silent Witness, where each killing is ludicrous in it’s bloody inventiveness. A bit harder-edged, perhaps, but still fairly conventional dramas.
But if it’s critical acclaim, awards and garlands you’re after, then go to Scandinavia, where series like The Bridge, The Killing and Wallander – the Swedish version, not dear Kenneth Branagh’s take – have swept all before them. There is one homegrown police drama, however, which is an oddity.
Hinterland (BBC iPlayer, available now) ticks most of the boxes. There are wild, brooding landscapes, wild brooding coppers with relationship problems, long periods of silence when the only sound is the keening wind, and most importantly, subtitles.
How so? It’s Welsh, look you, so lots of the dialogue is in Welsh, with subtitles.
Series Two is now available on iPlayer, with series one having aired in 2014 on BBC4. It seemed like a really good stab at a more Nordic cop show, but judging by the first episode of series two it’s nudging towards parody.
A lot of the shots are framed in an off-kilter way, so the characters appear in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, with the rest of the picture filled by the moorland above Aberystwyth, where the series is set.
There’s a lot of scenes in semi-darkness, lit only by a noirish Anglepoise lamp or a flickering fire.
And the characters – with the exception of the two young detectives, who rarely leave the office – seem constantly on the verge of exploding with barely-repressed emotion.
Richard Harrington, as the troubled DCI Mathias, emotes convincingly in the main role, but the rest of the show seems a little too pretentious.
The scenery, however, is absolutely beautiful. Just ignore the bottom right-hand corner.