25 Days of Crime-mas Day 12: Shetland continues to slay

Shetland -- Acquired via DKC PR
Shetland -- Acquired via DKC PR /

Shetland has just been renewed for two more seasons. It certainly deserves a place on our 25 Days of Crime-mas countdown. Here’s why it still slays.

We’re at the halfway mark of the Christmas countdown. Day 12 is all about Shetland, a British TV crime drama that continues to slay. But why does it belong on our 25 Days of Crime-mas countdown?

The Scottish series has been on the air since March 2013. It took time to come to the United States and has seen a change of platform since its first arrival. Now, you can watch all episodes on BritBox, and it’s certainly worth the subscription.

Just recently, Shetland has been renewed for two more seasons, and it will keep its lead actor, Douglas Henshall. So, what makes the series so great.

A story on an island

Shetland is named for the island that the story is set on. However, while the odd scenes have been filmed on the archipelago, most of the filming takes place on mainland Scotland, mostly around the Glasgow area.

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The murders take place in small communities on the island, which leads to shocking revelations but also tight lips. This can certainly make it difficult for the investigations.

Unlike U.S. TV shows, where the episodes follow a procedural format for the most part, Shetland contained storylines with a serialized element throughout the seasons. In fact, the number of episodes were limited to the amount needed to tell the story, with the first season consisting of just two episodes. From Season 2, more episodes were added.

For the most part, the seasons are based on novels by Ann Cleeves. The first season was based on Red Bones, while the second season was based on Raven BlackDead Water, and Blue Lightning. Each story was told over the course of two episodes.

Season 3 saw a slight change, with all six episodes covering one story. This time, the story was written purely for the series. The same thing happened in the fourth season. It’s a series not afraid trial new things and make changes along the way to suit the way fans want the story told.

Programme Name: Shetland S4 – TX: n/a – Episode: n/a (No. n/a) – Picture Shows: DI Jimmy Perez (DOUGLAS HENSHALL) – (C) ITV Studios – Photographer: Mark Mainz
Programme Name: Shetland S4 – TX: n/a – Episode: n/a (No. n/a) – Picture Shows: DI Jimmy Perez (DOUGLAS HENSHALL) – (C) ITV Studios – Photographer: Mark Mainz /

The Shetland cast

It was always going to be essential to get someone trusted and liked to play the lead role of Jimmy Perez. That role went to Douglas Henshall. Alison O’Donnell landed the part of Alison “Tosh” MacIntosh, the detective sergeant and like a partner to Perez in the field. Steven Robertson and Mark Bonnar round out the main cast from the first season.

Julie Graham, Erin Armstrong, Lewis Howden, Anne Kidd, and Stewart Porter have taken on main roles throughout the years. There have also been some notable guest stars, including Brian Cox, Jim Sturgeon, and Steven Walters. Nancy Drew‘s Tunji Kasim was also in the second season, so you can stop trying to figure out where you know him from!

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Why to watch

The breakdown of the series is pretty simple. It’s about a police unit in Shetland, led by DI Jimmy Perez. Throughout the series, he and his team solve various murder cases, always trying to figure out who is hiding information and why.

So, why should you watch it? The first thing that will draw you in is that it’s based on a book series. If you love the Ann Cleeves novels, then you’re going to want to see them play out on the screen.

You then get a chance to see the writers at work, creating a story based on the characters but with a full six-episode serialized element to it. The writing is on point and the acting is excellent. It’s a series with plenty of heart, humor, and history mixed in. It’s hard to find something as good anywhere else on TV.

Where to start

Usually, I’d pick out episodes to watch within the series. However, this isn’t a procedural. The story is told in a serialized format, which means missing one episode means missing out on a lot of the story.

The best place to start is at the very beginning. The first season remains one of my favorites for keeping the story contained while allowing us the chance to get to know the characters.

Next. 25 Days of Crime-mas: The full schedule. dark

What are you watching in the runup to Christmas? What do you think of Shetland? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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