This BBC series is set in the Shetland Islands off the northeast coat of Scotland. It tells the story of a small police department investigating crimes on the sparsely populated islands where everyone pretty much knows everyone else. I found the series to be quite gripping, even though the murder plots did not quite satisfy me, having some serious implausibilities. The first two seasons consist of four two-hour episodes based on books by Ann Cleeves and the third season consists of a single six-hour story that was written by others using the same characters. It is in the portrayals of the gritty life of the people that the series has its strength.
One thing that is almost a character in itself is the scenery of the islands. It has a kind of beautiful bleakness. The small islands consist of open moors, completely devoid of all trees, whether due to the harsh climate (the islands are at a latitude of 60o, close to the Arctic Circle) or because like in much of England forests were ruthlessly cut down many years ago. It is strange to have an uninterrupted view of isolated houses pockmarking the distant hillsides. It feels like there is no privacy at all, in that if you step out of your house someone far away can see you.
Adding to that lack of privacy are the ubiquitous closed circuit cameras that the police have on almost every street and intersection in the towns, a feature that seems to be common in the UK. It is undoubtedly helpful in solving crimes because it enables the police to track activity around crimes scenes before, during, and after a crime is committed.
One of the features of show is the strong Scottish accent and the use of an unfamiliar dialect. While most of them did not go full Robert Burns, I had enough trouble understanding some that it was a relief to turn on English subtitles.
Here’s the trailer.