The Killing U.S. Version (2011 - 2014)
Created By: Søren Sveistrup (original Danish version) Starring: Mireille Enos, Joel Kinnaman, Billy Campbell, Liam James, Michelle Forbes, Brent Sexton, Kristin Lehman, Eric Ladin, Brendan Sexton III, Jamie Anne Allman, Elias Koteas, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Julia Sarah Stone, Peter Sarsgaard, Gregg Henry, Tyler Ross
Certificate: 15 Running Time: 45 Minutes (per episode)
Tagline: "Be Careful What You Uncover"
Despite not having actually watched TV for over ten years now, generally speaking, there are a tonne of shows I still want to watch, either on DVD as I used to, or on Netflix or Amazon Prime as is more likely now. Therefore, when my wife suggested we watch The Killing I really wasn't that keen. I hadn't heard bad things about it, I hadn't heard anything about it in fact, I just had too many other shows I wanted to watch. But I know better than to argue these things so we started watching it. As you probably guessed, it's a serial crime drama but you may not know that it's based on a Danish show called Forbrydelsen, created by Søren Sveistrup. The US doesn't have the best track record of remaking shows or films from overseas so I was a little wary when I discovered this, but I was happy to find... it wasn't half bad.
The series is set in Seattle and stars Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman as detectives Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder respectively. Linden (as she is almost exclusively known) is an experienced homicide detective who is about to move to California with her fiancé. On her last day on the job she's partnered with Holder, a rookie just transferred from vice and narcotics whose aggressive, confrontational style differs a great deal from her more reserved approach. Nonetheless, they are given a new case which quickly becomes a murder investigation when a car is recovered from a lake... with a dead teenage girl in the boot (or 'trunk' for American readers).
Spoiler Alert: I'll try not to reveal any major plot twists or cliffhangers with these posts but they may contain a few spoilers so if you haven't seen them and don't want to know anything, don't read!
Season One (13 episodes)
Season Two (13 episodes)
Season Three (12 episodes)
Season Four (6 episodes)
As much as I enjoyed watching The Killing from beginning to end, in some ways I'm not surprised that it wasn't more popular or well known. It's definitely not an action-based show for one thing. Indeed, it's probably the slowest-paced crime drama I've seen, with information and clues being drip-fed to our detectives as everything else in their lives continue, as everyone else's lives continue around them. Linden is a single mother, for example, and often neglects her teenage son as she obsessively puts in all the hours under the sun on her latest case.
Some viewers may also tire of the dark, sombre mood that permanently hangs over the show too. It's a show about investigating murder, I know - hardly the cheeriest subject at the best of times - but the gloom even extends to the look of the show. Many scenes take place at night or amidst downpours (Seattle really must be the rainiest city in the world!) but even in broad daylight nearly everything is grey or brown or another dark shade. I can't even recall any characters smiling or laughing or acting cheery in any way. Good lord, lighten up Seattle - just once?!
It's also very much a serial drama. It wouldn't be impossible to happen upon a single mid-season episode, having never seen the show before, and enjoy it - the quality of the acting, high production values, and the fantastic tension and atmosphere the production team build up is more than enough for that - but you wouldn't really know what was going on and, assuming you wanted to, you'd definitely need to go back and watch the previous episodes. In the modern era of television, though, that's a good thing rather than bad if you ask me - I do love getting stuck into a serial - but it does still demand a certain level of commitment as well.
None of this seemingly-negative stuff really matters with The Killing though. Not as far as I'm concerned anyway. Yes, each season (except perhaps the last) takes time to get going. Yes, all the characters are flawed and make mistakes. Yes, the world they inhabit is generally rather bleak. These things could make other shows (or films) rather unpleasant and unenjoyable but, aside from making things relatable here, it all just seems to work. I guess that's simply down to a great cast and production team doing their all, but it's still a fine achievement. I can definitely understand if some viewers don't take to this show, but for me, the often-clichéd world of the police procedural looks refreshingly different here.