‘Vienna Blood’ reviews round-up: New 1900s detective show is ‘compelling viewing’

BBC Two’s new period crime drama Vienna Blood launched last night in the UK.

The series of three feature-length episodes sees Sherlock writer Steve Thompson adapt the best-selling Liebermann novels by Frank Tallis for TV.

Set in 1900s Vienna, Vienna Blood stars Matthew Beard (The Imitation Game), Juergen Maurer (Vorstadtweiber), Conleth Hill (Game Of Thrones), Charlene McKenna (Ripper Street), Amelia Bullmore (Gentleman Jack) and Jessica De Gouw (Dracula).

Watch the trailer:

The official synopsis reads: “Max Liebermann (Matthew Beard) is a brilliant young English doctor, studying under the famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. When Max comes into contact with Oskar Rheinhardt (Juergen Maurer), an Austrian Detective Inspector struggling with a strange case, he offers his assistance.

“Max’s extraordinary skills of perception and forensics, and his deep understanding of human behaviour and deviance, help Oskar solve some of Vienna’s most mysterious and deadly cases.”

We’ve rounded up a selection of reviews for the first episode to help you decide if you’d like to watch it:


“It is a mystery that calls for Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. But the BBC hasn’t got another series of that because Benedict Cumberbatch is busy, so instead we have Oskar Rheinhardt and Dr Liebermann. This is Vienna Blood: essentially a Sherlock tribute act.” ★★★ – The Telegraph


“It’s a cop show, a police procedural, and it combines in a formulaic way the usual characteristics of all such stories and series. That’s not a bad thing, not at all, because it is the proven key to success – the viewers become co-detectives, sharing in the protagonists’ theories, disappointments and breakthroughs. When it is done well, as here, the results are exceptional and make for compelling viewing.” ★★★★★ – The Independent


“It is all absurd but enjoyable, the extended length more or less justified by the subplots … And the odd-couple detective and sidekick setup feels tired. But Beard and Maurer are excellent, and my id is a sucker for a bit of murder in a fin de siècle setting, so I’ll forgive much.” ★★★ – The Guardian


“High intrigue slicked with high budget, this detective duo are a perfect match … This lavish period drama rivals any of Netflix’s offerings.” – Evening Standard


“Matthew Beard’s impressively imperturbable performance does start to grow on you, but there’s an inauthentic, bloodless air to Vienna Blood, and its various parts never quite add up to an emotional whole.” ★★★ – The Arts Desk


“…if you tuned in hoping for a drama of equal sophistication to Sherlock you were out of luck … It was hammier than a butcher’s knife, but it wasn’t unenjoyable for it, providing you took it with a fistful of salt.” ★★ The Times


“With the two detectives hard to like, the 90-minute episode needed to be fast-paced to grip our attention. Despite a clever set-up (a fraudulent medium, famed for her seances, is found shot through the heart… but there is no bullet), the storytelling sometimes dragged. We needed more dialogue and fewer long, contemplative silences.” ★★★ – The Daily Mail


Vienna Blood continues on Monday nights at 9pm on BBC Two and each episode will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer after broadcast.

Frank Tallis’s Liebermann novels are available on Amazon.