TV | Shetland – Dark and intense yet cheesy drama

If you like your crime drama cheesy, yet dark and intense then Shetland, adapted from Ann Cleeves’ best- selling novels, is the show for you.

The series has all the hallmarks of Broadchurch: murder in a small rural community is sure to cause a stir, and the nostalgia of a murder from 19 years ago triggers an investigation where it’s all too easy for tensions to escalate.

The first two part adaptation deals with the death of the provocative and controversial teenager Catherine, found dead on the beach, a la Broadchurch, pecked away at by ravens. Yet 19 years ago a younger girl called Catriona went missing on the island, her body still not found. Yet the two girls shared an address, so what’s the link? And if all this wasn’t enough, Magnus Bain (Brian Cox), the creepy old man living on the cliffs with only a raven for company is sure to add a touch of the uncanny and supernatural – that or cause pandemonium in the community.

If the accents or Douglas Henshall as Detective Jimmy Perez (Primeval) don’t drag you in, then the bleak Shetland countryside will do the trick. Very typical of the Nordic noir that we have become so infatuated with, Shetland is set during midsummer, when the nights are always light and the mist never lifts, in terms of atmosphere there is nowhere better suited for a chilling investigation.

The shows reliance on classic crime drama tropes is perhaps a little too obvious and could come across as tiring, if it wasn’t quite so effective. The tight but fractured community, the troubled teenagers with secrets, the local playboy with an eye on the teenage girls, and the compassionate single-parent detective are all well known clichés, and yet if done well they never seem to grow old.

The overwhelming sense of the Victorian gothic, the scenery, the village recluse, and the bogs aside, the show has character and offers all that’s best about British drama.

Anastasia Kennedy 

Photo: Property of

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