sun 21/07/2024

Shetland, Series 6, BBC One review - too many cooks and too many crooks | reviews, news & interviews

Shetland, Series 6, BBC One review - too many cooks and too many crooks

Shetland, Series 6, BBC One review - too many cooks and too many crooks

Douglas Henshall is terrific, the plot not so much

Jimmy Perez (Douglas Henshall) with Alison O'Donnell as DS 'Tosh' McIntosh

The population of the Shetland archipelago is only about 23,000 (similar to Broadstairs or Amersham), though judging by the adventures of DI Jimmy Perez, an extraordinarily large percentage of them harbour dark secrets or murderous tendencies.

BBC One's sixth series of Shetland (scripted by David Kane, since the original Ann Cleeves novels have long since been used up) finds Perez world-wearier than ever, as he probes into the steadily darkening circumstances surrounding the murder of local lawyer Alex Galbraith.

The original appeal of Shetland was the way its human dramas were entwined with the dramatic and haunting landscape, with each facet feeding into the other. There’s some sense of this still remaining here, especially in the scenes depicting Perez’s steadily-crumbling relationship with his father James (Benny Young), who’s succumbing to dementia. Already stricken by the death of his mother, Perez’s pain as he watches his father’s decline is signalled with acute poignancy in Douglas Henshall’s performance. Henshall has been playing the role for the best part of a decade, and the long litany of deaths and betrayals is mirrored in his increasingly haggard appearance.

The combination of Henshall and the Shetland landscapes – ranging from crystal-clear blue skies and glittering blue water to vistas of wind-swept, snow-covered hillsides spattered with a few cowering sheep – ensures that the show is always watchable, though you can’t help noticing that the machinery of the plot seems to be clattering ever more loudly in the background as the programme-makers battle to fill the series’ six episodes.

Galbraith’s murder, accomplished rather ostentatiously with a World War Two-era P38 pistol, has (after a false start) thrown suspicion on Army veteran Logan Creggan, who’s not only gun-happy but also has motive, since Galbraith declined to represent him in an investigation of British Army war crimes in Iraq. Still, even though Perez gave Creggan a rather condescending lecture about what constitutes a war crime, Creggan – whose military experiences have left him suffering a crippling case of PTSD – is being set up too obviously to be the real killer. Besides, he’s just been attacked by a vicious masked gang throwing petrol bombs, with his son Fraser becoming collateral damage, so the plot is going to get thicker before we see any daylight at the end of the tunnel.

Meanwhile DC Sandy Wilson (Steven Robertson) has survived being knocked down by a car, but what about that other murder? This time the victim was Eamon Gauldie (Thoren Ferguson), a local oil industry diver who enjoyed playing with a drone in his spare time. Unfortunately for him, it seems that his drone inadvertently filmed the Galbraith killing. The upshot was that while Gauldie was decompressing on board his dive ship after a deep-sea plunge, somebody fiddled about with the controls and gave him a lethal attack of the bends. And just to add a further everything-including-the-kitchen-sink twist to an already overcrowded narrative, Perez’s old love-him-or-hate-him buddy Duncan Hunter (Mark Bonnar) is getting back together with his ex-lover and convicted murderer Donna Killick (Fiona Bell), now terminally ill. If there is a recipe for lasting happiness, this isn’t it (Bonnar and Bell pictured above).

It has to work itself out by episode six, but the story feels more like a mechanically-constructed puzzle than something that might have plausibly occurred on this isolated cluster of islands located somewhere between Scotland and Norway. Too many cooks and too many crooks.

The machinery of the plot seems to be clattering ever more loudly in the background


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Well stated. I'm not saying "Shetland" has passed its prime but it's nearing that point and this began in Series 5. As often happens when a series begin to slow down, the characters begin to become caricatures of themselves.

Agree, 200%. Season 6 was nearly unwatchable. The pacing was off and the coincidences among the plot lines too forced. I love Henshall and Bonnar, and they deserve better.

Yes, this makes me sad. The messed up Iraq veteran plot has been (God forgive me) worn out and boring since it was the messed up Vietnam veteran plot. World evil specific to Shetland, like oil company buccaneers and traffickers is much more engrossing.

The Ann Cleeves books, and the TV series based on them, were about ordinary people getting involved in crimes. The TV stories since have read like London crime stories transported to Shetland, with gangsters, drugs and people-smuggling. Can the BBB really not understand that rural life is not the same as big cities? As for Perez seeking to cover up a crime, even where he is close to the suspect, he is just too 'straight-up' a character for that to happen. The BBC and the writer show no understanding of the characters.


Yes! I loved Shetland, but season 6 is tiresome and worn out.

the final episode was a huge disappointment and was an obvious set up for another season. However, we are not willing to wait another year to see what happens. The series is already getting long in the tooth and the writers seem to be running out of ideas.

Oh, come on. Making believe that Duncan has transformed into a selfless care-giver goes against every inch of his character portrayed in each episode. So many ridiculous plot holes in this series make me wish Douglas Henshell would find a better vehicle for his talents. Tosh is conflicted + pregnant! Sandy is culpable in leaking photos! This whole episode was just silly. Such promise totally wasted.

The change in writers is obvious - and it feels the same as Vera: one dimensional simulacrum of a police / detective office with a handful of characters with nothing to do but work on one case. No supervisors, no management, no media - it is a waste of the talent and the photography to wrap them in such a threadbare envoronment.

Ann Cleeves is an excellent writer as evinced by her Vera and Shetland books. The first four seasons of Shetland were right there. Doug Henshall is Jimmy Perez. Tosh is irreplaceable. Sandy and Billy would be missed. They’re a team! Mark Bonnar fits the Duncan slot perfectly. Season 5 wasn’t my favorite but was okay. Believed that was the series finale. Was surprised to see Season 6 and eager to watch. The new writer inherited well-defined characters doing and saying things -that doesn’t fit. A couple times, I found myself saying out loud-but he’d never do/say that. Too bloody and too many f—ks- against character. Too much story for six episodes. I just wanted it to be over-didn’t care who killed who. Plus the culprit left me saying -“What the-“ because the relationship between daughter and mother -no longer fit! The setup for another season, left me testy- Shetland doesn’t pull that baloney. A crime happens-the crime gets resolved in six episodes and their lives continue. As much as I like Doug Henshall’s work, I’m afraid I may pass on Season 7.

One thing that didn’t make sense to me was that the person who stole the drone (that recorded the murderer) heard about it from Sandy. But Sandy didn’t know about the drone being stolen until he went to investigate the theft. That doesn’t make sense. Am I missing something?

Ha ha - I fail to see how people can't understand this season of "Shetland." A lot of confused comments here! It's a well-written TV crime series and I'm sorry if having a lot of characters and a fairly complex yet easy to understand storyline befuddles you. Maybe you're all so used to and sated by single-storyline American cop shows that watching an intricately woven British series makes your heads explode? Lmao - IT'S A TV SHOW. It's not that hard. "Shetland" remains well-written and as intricately constructed as ever - its first two seasons (taken directly from the books) were cozy little capers, sure, but it's taken off from the third season on and has just become better and better. Season 6 is the best so far. Bring on Season 7!!

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