The series premiered on Sunday night. It was produced by Jed Mercurio, who was also behind Line of Duty and Bodyguard, both of which were a great success for the broadcaster.
In Bloodlands, Nesbitt plays DCI Tom Brannick, whose past comes into focus after a car, containing a postcard of the Harland and Wolff cranes and a recording, is pulled from Strangford Lough. The car is later found to belong to a missing haulage firm boss with IRA connections.
Brannick links the discovery to a cold case and the hunt for Goliath, a serial killer who may be operating within the police force and known to spend the 1990s assassinating all those who threatened the peace process. The twist in the tale is the murder of the police officer’s wife Emma, who was possibly one of the killer’s victims.
The plot of four-part drama is murky in more ways than one, with the setting in Northern Ireland giving a gloomy backdrop and giving the impression the ghosts of the past are ever present.
The prime-time drama was described by writer and comedian Tim McGarry as the perfect Northern Ireland series as it aired on Sunday night for “dividing people 50/50”.
Viewers also spotted a few familiar faces from another popular Northern Ireland series. Derry Girls’ Kathy Kiera Clarke and Ian McElhinney popped up in the first episode.
“There’s obviously a limited supply of Northern Irish actors. We’re working our way through the Derry Girls cast,” tweeted Louise Paterson.
Others were just waiting for a sighting of Line of Duty’s Ted Hastings to come to the rescue.
“Time to bring in Ted Hastings and the AC-12 team. They’ll sort it,” said Vince Bishop on Twitter.
Meanwhile, others were just in it for the location spotting. Brendan Rogan tweeted: “Like most programmes set in and around Belfast, my main reason for watching Bloodlands is so that I can get all giddy when I spot somewhere that I recognise.”
Despite the familiar characters, the new series failed to strike a chord with some. Paul McAleer said it was “easily the worst thing I’ve seen this year”.
“A series of Northern Ireland cliches with loads of poor acting and camera work thrown in – shockingly bad,” he said.
Dan Wilson had a suggestion: “I enjoyed Bloodlands. But feel that audiences in the UK might like to see a portrayal of Northern Ireland that doesn’t centre on violent crime, the troubles or police corruption.
“Our tourism businesses would certainly favour more scenery and baked cake based drama,” he said.
And for politics professor Jon Tonge, the finale of the series holds little intrigue:
“This Bloodlands plot is obvious already.
“The murderer escapes via the Belfast to Isle of Man tunnel,” he said.