Arrow continues in its efforts to bring us grim crime TV shows from all corners of the globe. This time they’re aiming a little closer to home with HINTERLAND, filmed in and around Aberystwyth in Wales, which also provides the main setting for the four stories we get on this two disc set. Don’t think you’re getting away without subtitles this time, however. HINTERLAND was filmed twice back to back - one version in English and one in Welsh. HINTERLAND on DVD doesn’t give you the option of which you would like to watch - instead what we get is a version that’s a mixture of both, with about eighty per cent of the dialogue in English and the rest in Welsh.
But what about the dramatic content? Well, HINTERLAND starts off well, with newly arrived DCI Tom Mathias (Richard Harrington) investigating the brutal murder of an old lady who used to run an orphanage over in Devil’s Bridge. Marc Evans (MY LITTLE EYE, TRAUMA) directs this one, and makes it a thoroughly decent and engrossing piece that feels more Welsh Gothic than Welsh Noir. The location work is excellent, we are made aware that Mathias has a Deep Dark Secret, and his team members have the potential to develop into interesting characters.
Unfortunately, that’s where the characterisation stays. Over the course of the next three episodes we sadly learn very little more about any of them, and the scripts just aren’t up to the job of helping to flesh them out. Performances are okay, although Harrington acts as if he’s more sidekick than leading man material, and his actual sidekick, DI Mared Rhys (played by Mali Harries), might as well not be there at all. Her main expression, which suggests someone constantly sucking an especially bitter lemon drop, does her no favours either. The other members of Harrington’s team, DS Sian Owens (Hannah Daniel) and DC Lloyd Ellis (Alex Harries) are more personable but aren’t given much breathing space at all. Possibly the worst example of cliche here is poor old Aneirin Hughes who, as the team’s Chief Superintendent, has been told to do nothing other than frown a lot, shake his head, and inhale through pursed lips, all the while never wearing anything other than his police uniform and blue windcheater. At least that must have helped save on the clothing budget a bit.
HINTERLAND is okay, but it could have been a lot better. The location work and photography are exemplary in each episode and Wales itself really is the star of this one. However, if you’ve exhausted the rest of Arrow’s Noir line and are still keen for more you’ll find this a decent enough timewaster. Just don’t expect the heights of excellence reached by THE BRIDGE or others in the series.
Arrow’s two-disc DVD set includes featurettes on the locations used, the challenges of filming the show in two languages, a short promo, and an interview with writer-director-executive producer Ed Thomas on disc one. Disc two offers short pieces on the characters and the design of the show, and finishes off with a showreel for the series.
Arrow released HINTERLAND on a double disc DVD set on 28th May 2014