International Mystery on Public Television

For the last few years I’ve watched the International Mystery series on KCSM (a public television station associated run by the San Mateo County Community College District). The series rotates through many Western European crime series including the original (Swedish) Wallander, Detective Montalbano from Sicily and the long-running German Tatort.

Note: This has been running Monday nights at 10 with a repeat around 3 or 4 a.m. but the KCSM website shows them as moving to Sundays at 6 and 9 p.m. and a repeat on Tuesday night.

I really like the differences from typical American series. To a degree these shows are similar to what we get on the cable networks, not including the nudity–which is blurred–and profanity–which is not in the subtitles–in that the ending is not always neat and the protagonists don’t just get or find all the answers.

There’s also much more time spent on the main characters’ personal life. I wonder if this is down to smaller budgets but even so it makes the series’ more engaging.

Fortunately the shows are never dubbed into English, which generally throws me off due to the lack of synchronization of sound and image, and with today’s large flatscreens subtitles aren’t a bother. KCSM always blocks two hours for this but the shows are never more than 96 minutes.

Currently we’re getting Montalbano, a detective from the House school of crankypants; Donna Leon: Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries, which is set in Venice but filmed in German; Van Veeteren, a kindly old retired Swedish cop; Detective Inspector Irene Huss, an attractive middle-aged married mother of two Swedish cop; and the classic French flic Maigret in a French television adaptation, though I think his run is done for now as no episodes are set for July or August.