Watching the detectives … shoot, shoot, shoot

Should  Kurt Wallander have bristly jowls and the dejected air of an abandoned teddy bear? Mmmm..

Jowls can be lovely. And I like teddies too but I’m not convinced I want ‘my’ Kurt Wallander to look like Kenneth Branagh. While he perfectly portrays Swedish detective Wallander‘s dishevelment, vulnerability and isolation,  he just doesn’t look the part.

Branagh is the third actor to bring the morose Swede to the small screen. I’m still waiting to get my hands on Krister Henriksson‘s version of Wallander, but one blogger described  Rolf Lassgard’s Wallander as an “over-weight, petulant aging rock singer”. Nasty. But funny.

So which TV detectives work and which don’t?

R.D. Wingfield’s Jack Frost, played by David Jason, has been a solid success running to 15 seasons. For me, the loathsome spirit of Del Boy and Granville kills the magic.

Now on season 14 Midsomer Murders star John Nettles is Chief Inspector Barnaby.  Caroline Graham‘s original novels have been slightly obscured by the TV juggernaut but have all the essential elements and character traits of the screen version.

Lewis is an Inspector Morse spin-off featuring Kevin Whately, Morse’s long-suffering sergeant. Originally the upbeat family man in Morse, tragic circumstances have transformed Lewis into an isolated and often unhappy figure. Sound familiar? Morse has morphed but very successfully.

Albert Finney, Peter Ustinov and David Suchet have all had a pop at Agatha Christie’s Poirot. To my mind only David Suchet captures the essence of the iconic Belgian. Likewise there have been oodles of Miss Marples, I’m quite enjoying Julia McKenzie’s take on Miss Marp, tolerated Geraldine McEwen but rate Joan Hickson the best. And Margaret Rutherford, blah!

The list of crime novel adaptations for TV is endless, and there are always more in the pipeline. UK viewers have been recently been treated to Mark Billingham’s Tom Thorne played by David Morrissey, Peter Robinson’s DCI Banks with Stephen Tompkinson and the darkly brooding Rufus Sewell is all set to play Michael Dibdin’s Roman detective Aurelio Zen.

I hope these TV detectives make it to far-flung New Zealand but while we wait, which onscreen characterisations do you perceptive peeps think work or not? And which book detectives should get the next TV make-over?