The Killing began life as a Danish television series. We are used to seeing British shows reinvented for American audiences, but it’s rare to find something from Danish television that someone found so compelling they decided to work it for the competitive American television landscape. It’s no surprise that such an effort would find its way on cable rather than network television, where boundaries can really be pushed and explored.
AMC is a pretty good choice to land such a show. They’ve committed to some pretty groundbreaking shows in the few years they have produced original programming. Anyone who has caught an episode of The Living Dead certainly knows what I’m talking about here. The once movie-exclusive network has already proven a willingness to push the boundaries of television. So with all of this boundary pushing you might expect a cutting-edge series that plays out unlike anything in the genre. You would think so, but you’d be pretty disappointed.
The Killing follows the murder investigation of teen Rosie Larsen (Findlay). The lead detective is Sarah Linden (Enos) who was about to retire from the Seattle Police Department and, with her son Jack (James), follow her fiancée to California and be married. She catches the Larsen case literally on the last day she was supposed to work. She’s teamed up with Detective Stephen Holder (Kinnaman). He’s a transfer from County narcotics, and you can see why he was the perfect narcotics undercover officer. He looks and acts more like the drug addicts he popped than your typical homicide detective. Sarah doesn’t have a ton of confidence in her new partner, and she’s being pressured by her bosses to stick around longer and longer to see the case through.
Here is where the true drama of the case is covered by the show. It’s the aftermath of the murder on all of those involved where the series puts all of its eggs. There’s a ton of darkness and angst to go around here. Sarah, by staying in Seattle to work the case, is creating a chasm in her relationship with her new fiancée. Her son is rebelling because he doesn’t have her attention and now doesn’t even know where he’s living. He gets into a ton of trouble. There’s almost an entire episode where she and Holder search for Jack when he goes missing. The damage here is quite the focus of the show.
Of course, there is the family dealing with the loss. It’s no surprise that this is where there’s some serious damage. Michelle Forbes is the standout here as Rosie’s mother who is devastated by the loss. Her husband, Stan (Sexton) was once an enforcer for the Polish Mob. Rosie’s birth is what changed him, so now he’s lost his moral anchor. They have three young boys who are dealing with the loss of their older sister, who helped to care for them, and now a perceived emotional abandonment of their parents.
Then there is the political story. Councilman Richmond (Campbell) is running against the sitting mayor in a tough campaign for the Seattle mayor’s office. Rosie was found in one of his campaign’s cars, and the murder investigation is taking a huge toll on his campaign. Richmond himself is played quite nicely by Billy Campbell, and he appears to be a politician with principles that are getting challenged by his opponent and the murder investigation. Yet, we get inklings that he’s hiding something that might be related to the case.
There are a few suspects as the case moves along. There’s a teacher, and, of course, Richmond. The show intentionally throws evidence and suspects in and out of view to keep you off guard. That’s a hard thing to do here, and it does get a little tiresome. While the look at the murder’s impact is truly unique and often played out well, it drags. While there are only 13 episodes, the case moves along at a snail’s pace. Most of the performances are compelling except for the lead Mireille Enos as Sarah. With all of the emotion going on around her, she really does a horrible job of showing it. She carries around a rather annoying grin that appears to confer all of the emotions the character is going through. She’s a poor choice to carry the show and is upstaged at almost every turn. I’m not saying she’s necessarily a poor actress, but she has almost no range here, and it hurts the intended effect of the series.
If you’re a Fringe fan you might recognize much of the guest cast. Since the show is filmed in the same area you’ll see a lot of cross-over in the cast. In fact, Enos looks almost too much like Anna Torv. The atmosphere is a dreary one. If you’re looking for a dark show that presents the emotional damage of a murder, Seattle is your setting. I’m not sure that it helps make the show itself any more compelling. It’s too much of a downer. They really needed to spice it up a little. It wouldn’t hurt to spend just a bit more time working the case. I think you’ll find the experience rather dank and unrewarding.
Each episode is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec. The presentation has its moments, but the image is almost always dark and dreary. This is supposed to be Seattle, and it is raining almost all of the time. Of course, it’s really Vancouver. Black levels often get horribly bad. There is this shimmering video noise that pops up from time to time that is so bad you can hardly see the images. I’m not sure what it is, but it is not rare.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is pretty tame. Dialog is fine. About the only ear candy you get in the surrounds is the constant rainfall.
I’m a bit disappointed that Fox decided to put ads on all three discs.
Deleted Scenes: (13:21) SD They are bunched together in one place with no ability to play them individually.
Gag Reel: (4:50) SD
The Autopsy Of The Killing: (16:53) HD This is the only HD feature. It’s the behind-the-scenes feature. Cast and crew give you a walkthrough of the characters and setup. There’s talk of the original Danish show as well.
Extended Season Finale
Unfortunately, I think you’ll find that you have to invest too much time and patience to get anywhere with this series. Perhaps things will pick up in the second series, where we are promised Rosie’s killer will be revealed. Yes, the series takes a chance by going against the standard police procedural formula of having everything neatly resolved in about 40 minutes. But it swings too much the other way. There’s a reason we like to have our crimes solved in under an hour. We lead busy lives and don’t often have the investment to make that this series demands. Yes, we’ve had shows like Lost or Fringe which require an even larger investment, but the payoff is so much higher. I’m interested enough to see where this goes in season two, but only because I started. I suggest you try something else. Will Rosie’s killer really come out in season two? “I’m not letting myself lose any sleep over it.”