Entertainment » Television

The Killing - The Complete First Season

by Kyle Thomas Smith
Contributor
Tuesday Mar 27, 2012
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Maybe what piqued your interest in AMC’s series "The Killing" is that you heard all about how the original Danish version ("Forbrydelsen") is all the rage, all over Europe. Denmark’s crime drama is supposed to be one of the most compelling and phantasmagoric experiences in TV history. But good luck getting it on cable or Region 1 DVD any time soon. For now, you’ll have to settle for the American version, which has not hit the same heights as its progenitor.

And for good reason: it’s good, not great.

Having said that, "The Killing" deserved its six Emmy nominations last year. The writers went beyond the standard crime-drama formula, where a single case opens and shuts in an hour, tops. Instead, they took a single homicide case--the murder of Seattle teenager Rosie Larsen--and stretched it out for over one season, not just to follow a police investigation, but also to explore the churning upheaval in the bereft Larsen household and how Rosie’s murder may be connected to both a bloody mayoral race and a terrorist plot. Mirielle Enos gives a powerhouse performance as lead detective Sarah Linden, as does Joel Kinnaman who plays her swashbuckling beat partner, Stephen Holder. Few actors could embody grief as expertly as Michelle Forbes and Brent Sexton as Rosie’s parents. Rosie’s killer never turns out to be whom we think, and the city of Seattle, overcast and shrouded in mystery, proves an ideal setting for the ever-dynamic Patty Jenkins to ply her directing chops.

If the constant plot twists for this one case go on much longer in Season 2, it looks like we got another shark-jumper on our hands.

But there are many reasons why "The Killing" didn’t win at the Emmys. Do we need yet another show that harps on how the female cop puts her job before everything else? It gets just plain silly how Sarah Linden keeps blowing off her fiancĂ© and neglecting her son, especially when there’s a better life waiting for them in Sonoma. The political issues besetting the mayoral campaign seem pat and generic, unconducive to intellectual intrigue (like most U.S. TV dramas). And, worst of all, the season finale is less a cliffhanger and more a groaning letdown.

If the constant plot twists for this one case go on much longer in Season 2, it looks like we have another shark-jumper on our hands (cf., "Desperate Housewives").

"The Killing: Season 1"
DVD--13 episodes, plus special features
$39.98
http://www.amctv.com/shows/the-killing

Kyle Thomas Smith is author of the novel 85A (Bascom Hill, 2010). He lives in Brooklyn with his husband and two cats.

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