There you have an unfortunate aspect of Hinterland – a sense of unoriginality. How many cop shows do you have to sift through exactly to find a rough, masculine, hard-done-by officer who struggles to separate his private life from his day job? Beneath all the cliché character stereotypes, Harrington delivers a tight, well-crafted performance that just about manages to be engrossing, even if the remainder of the series is only hooky when it wants to be.
Indeed, what it actually wants to be is up for debate. There’s an undeniable cinematic grandeur to the show’s appearance, but it’s underpinned by the dry monotony of its plot and characters, which themselves have these issues masked by a finely-tuned precision in the execution that’s difficult not to admire.
There’s such a lovely balance in everything here – the stories, the characters, the direction, the pacing, it’s all presented beautifully, with not a shot out of place or emotional beat missed. However, that professionalism seems to come at a price of individuality. Hinterland feels content with being a homage to its Nordic cousins and perfectly happy in its own limitations. When each episode stretches to 90 minutes in length, going down such routes results in a failure to maintain interest. Such running times only serve to remind you how Hinterland is occasionally smothered by its own pedestrian nature.
Nevertheless, for every scene where DCI Mathias throws a tantrum over his ruined family, unfortunately pointing out how comfortable Hinterland is with cherry-picking the dullest elements in police dramas, there’s an insanely perfect shot of Wales that’s enveloping in a way Hinterland’s plots never quite are. That’s perhaps the show's biggest selling point – an ever-running theme of isolation that never loses steam. The landscape and the characters share a sense of detachment, loneliness, and bleakness that, when mixed with the cinematography, is most absorbing.
Hinterland still manages to be a rewarding watch. Its stately production values and top notch deliverance are quite satisfying to see unfold with each episode. It simply doesn’t have enough murder in its eyes to compliment the themes of isolation that run rampant, and ultimately is the noir crime drama equivalent of a cat without its claws.
HINTERLAND SEASON 2 / CERT: 15 / DIRECTORS: ED THOMAS, GARETH BRYN / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: RICHARD HARRINGTON, MALI HARRIES, ALEX HARRIES, HANNAH DANIEL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW