Vienna Blood, BBC Two

Vienna at the start of the 20th century is an open goal for writers and film-makers. As well as having the personalities and radical ideas of Freud, Klimt and Mahler to play with you know your audience brings a ready-made sense of foreboding to the party – or they do if they have enough history to know what’s going to happen to the Austro-Hungarian Empire after the first war and to Vienna’s large Jewish community in the run up to the second. In this respect Vienna Blood did hit the net but only just. At times it came dangerously close to hitting the crossbar instead.

Freud, Klimt and Mahler all featured in episode one of the new period crime thriller, set in 1906 and adapted from the novel series by clinical psychologist Frank Tallis. Our entrée into their world came in the form of young Jewish medical student Max Liebermann (Matthew Beard). Freud, in particular, was an influence on him and it was Liebermann’s interest in psychoanalysis and the psychology of the criminal mind which led him to be foisted on surly, hard-bitten Vienna detective Oskar Rheinhardt (Juergen Muarer).

Handily, this happened as Rheinhardt was on his way to a locked-room mystery, the death of an unknown young woman. A suicide, from the look of it. Only where was the weapon? And where, when the pathologist inspected the wound, was the bullet? And so the stage was set for a little bit of Viennese sleuthing – literally, in this case, as the killing involved a magician, a séance and some serious sleight of hand by the perpetrator.

There were some comically bad lines. “You’ve been shot,” Liebermann told the killer after he’d been shot. “I realise,” the man replied. This happened on the city’s famous massive Wiener Rieserad Ferris Wheel which, given the setting, just made you pine even more for Orson Welles’s Harry Lime, for a script by Graham Greene, and maybe even some zither music. Everything, in other words, that makes The Third Man so damn wunderbar.

At least the accents weren’t a problem. Opting for a largely German and Austrian cast made their accented English sound authentic, and Beard’s character is supposed to have moved to Vienna from London so that was OK. One final plus point is that each episode is feature length and more or less a case to itself, so you don’t have to watch it again this week to find out whodunnit. But if you do, well Vienna Blood is diverting enough in a nothing-else-on sort of a way.