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
Kathy (Sally Lindsay) in Ordinary Lies
tvReview: The seemingly dull Kathy proves her life is anything but a snoozefest
Arts and Entertainment

Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boy

Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig in a scene from ‘Spectre’, released in the UK on 23 October

Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap

Arts and Entertainment

Poldark review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Katie Brayben is nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Carole King in Beautiful

Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

    War with Isis

    Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
    Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

    A spring in your step?

    Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

    Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
    Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

    Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

    For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
    Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

    Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

    As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
    The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

    UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

    Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

    Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
    Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

    Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

    If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
    10 best compact cameras

    A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

    If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
    Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

    Paul Scholes column

    Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
    Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
    Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?