The Weekend's Television: Wallander, Sun, BBC1
Piers Morgan on Las Vegas, Sat, ITV1
Elvis in Vegas, Sun, BBC2

The case goes cold

Kenneth Branagh's bristles are very important to Wallander. They're a short cut to the character, for one thing, a marker of his anomie and depression.

But they also show you how sharp the cinematography is, his face regularly looming up in the screen like a glum test card for the crispness of the focus. And that's the series's distinctive trademark, a Scandinavian clarity of light and design yoked to plotlines and settings that undermine our conventional prejudices about Sweden as a kind of giant Ikea room set. The horizons are nearly always low in the frame here – a landscape composition familiar from the kind of off-the-peg art photography you can buy at Ikea – but what's going on in those landscapes is anything but serene. Last night, it was the violent murder of an old couple, a crime that tugged Wallander away from an awkward dinner with his daughter and her new boyfriend and gave him ample scope for the angry dejection that is his trademark.

The dinner and the murder turned out to be connected, not by any direct link but because Wallander's unseemly stab of discomfort at the race of his daughter's boyfriend colours (the apposite word in this case) his investigation of the crime. As he cradled one of the victims in his arms, she whispered a word to him. He knew it began with F but was it "farmer" or "foreigner"? Disturbed at the little pulse of racism he'd just detected within himself he resisted the latter suggestion, which didn't stop word getting out anyway and provoking retaliatory violence from local bigots. And naturally when that happened Wallander felt even more guilty, and looked even more intractably gloomy.

There was a good subject here – racism being far more insidious than good liberal types will sometimes credit, and terror of racism doing its own kinds of damage. But is Wallander really as good as it clearly thinks it is? If you've a large appetite for the symbolic you may well love it. There was a white stallion here that kept turning up whenever the drama needed another injection of poetic weltschmerz, sometimes posing against a skyline and finally dead on the blacktop of a country road, where it was presumably intended to represent something deeper and sadder than a dent in some poor sod's no-claims bonus.

But you needed a certain amount of patience, both for the ponderous self-regard with which the whole thing proceeded and for the way it dipped back to stock conventions the moment the action hotted up. How familiar does this scene feel, for example? A large squad of policemen swamped a fairground looking for a suspect but when our hero spotted him and pursued him away from the bright lights into a warren of caravans he was instantly alone and at risk. None of his colleagues followed him and so he was free to act out a profoundly implausible little pantomime of reckless endangerment, walking steadily towards a man with a gun. Wallander, to put it bluntly, is a solipsistic drama queen, and the series that bears his name shows no awareness at all of how irritating such people can be.

On Saturday night we got Piers Morgan on Las Vegas, notionally investigating the economic and ecological crisis the city is facing but mostly just wallowing in bling and excess. At the Palms hotel you can, if you're prepared to pay enough or lose enough, book into a room with its own en suite basketball court. You can tell that Morgan loves all this – the mayor who jokes about his Mob connections, Sylvester Stallone fondly recalling his partying days, the pneumatic "hostesses" who pretended to be partying in his Jacuzzi – and he fully bought into Vegas's carefully sustained lie that it's about fun rather than fleecing. If ever a city deserved to die, though, it's surely this one, every building and every street an affront to human dignity. I found myself getting positively Mosaic as I looked down at this city of the plain, thinking than nothing less than destruction by fire would do it justice. And if you feel this is overly puritanical, let me just note that Paris Hilton can be paid up to $500,000 simply for turning up at a party here. If that's not evidence that this is a lazar house of the soul I don't know what would count.

Elvis in Vegas described the symbiosis between city and singer, with the former helping build its reputation as the pinnacle of an American showbiz career and the latter establishing Elvis as one of the biggest lounge acts in the world. This too was an account of shameless greed (mostly represented by Colonel Tom Parker, who worked Elvis like a sharecropper) and the corruptions of no-limits fun, which helped put Elvis in an early grave. Come to think of it, symbiosis is the wrong word. Parasitic would be a lot more accurate.

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
Arts and Entertainment
Fake Banksy stencil given to artist Alex Jakob-Whitworth

art

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee