The popular long-running Swedish TV series Beck, comes to DVD after recently running on BBC Four. Based on the "Martin Beck" novels by married writing duo Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, we follow Detective Beck and his team as they tackle tough murder cases in Stockholm. Beck The Series: Volume One has been released on the Arrow Films label under the Nordic Noir & Beyond banner and consists of 5 feature-length TV movie episodes, from numbers 26-30. I'll dispense with a synopsis as you can read the official one at the foot of the article.
Beck The Series: Volume One consists of 3 discs and comes stylishly packaged. The first 90-minute, subtitled film on disk 1 is titled Buried Alive, and wasn't the strongest of the five. It quickly becomes clear that Beck is your typical police procedural affair, however unlike Hollywood's cop shows, Beck contains a level of authenticity that gives this show the edge. The characters are also very likable and quickly grow on you. By the second feature you'll feel right at home watching them, and the fact the each character is brought to life by very capable actors certainly doesn't hurt.
Buried Alive tells the story of a serial-killer who's burying people alive, but things become ever more complicated when their suspects start dying like the others. Martin Beck and sidekick Gunvald Larsson, along with Lena Klingström and rookie Oskar Bergman, are put to the test after the killer makes contact with Beck meaning he just might be the next target.
Next up is Room 302 and this murder case involves Swedish nightlife. While I enjoyed this one slightly more than the first, I had them graded about the same at B-. The Family (Grade: A-) was one of my favorites, and even though it was a tad convoluted it was also very entertaining. A crime boss is gunned down and now Martin and Gunvald start to look at the inlaws for a suspect. The Invasion (Grade: B) was interesting as it concerned Islamic terrorism, and the final feature, The Hospital Murders (Grade: B), was a good example of the genre to close out volume one. A terminally ill elderly woman dies in hospital, but her son insists it's murder after an empty morphine amp is found.
While Beck is a solid cop show with great characters, fine acting and interesting cases, it plods along at an unhurried pace, never offering the sense of urgency that one would expect from the genre. That said, one gets used to the low-key pacing of the show. In fact, the measured storytelling adds to the realism, making the entire experience as authentic as possible. Overall Beck The Series: Volume One has extremely high production values, and with five movies on three disks you certainly feel like you're getting value for money.
Beck The Series: Volume 1
Peter Haber, Mikael Persbrandt, Måns Nathanaelson, Stina Rautelin
DVD Release Date
16 November 2015
Nav's Grade: B
Martin Beck is one of Nordic Noir’s first and definitive Scandinavian detectives epitomising the good-cop bad-cop routine alongside his petulant partner, Gunvald Larsson. Based on the characters of the hugely popular Martin Beck detective series of novels by Swedish husband-and-wife writers Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, Beck sees the much-loved detective brought to life on the small screen. Beck is arguably the originator of what has become known as Nordic Noir.
This collection of five feature-length films (Four from the latest season and one from the previous, the latter receiving a theatrical release in Sweden) sees detective Martin Beck investigating the shocking death of a young woman found strangled in a hotel room, a gangster kingpin executed by a sniper in front of his family, a terrorist attack and a suspicious hospital death which sourly turns out to be premeditated murder. It’s an intricate web of characters and lies and the killer is never who you expect it to be.
Starring Peter Haber (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) as Beck and Mikael Persbrandt (The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, Salvation and The Hypnotist) as Larsson, the drama’s combination of complex woven details of police detection and beautifully realised characters combined with twisting, masterful storylines has ensured that the award-winning series won fans and acclaim from around the world.