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Follows Seattle police detectives as they try to solve the murder of teenager Rosie Larsen. Multiple storylines intertwine as the detectives attempt to close the case.
Showrunner is Veena Sud (Cold Case); based on the Danish TV series Forbrydelsen ("The Killing").
I decided to watch The Killing after hearing good things about it, a success in the States it was quickly picked up for a second season by AMC, so I started to watch it. Then the reviews got worse and the general opinion is 'don't watch the US version, watch the original Danish version'. As I had already started watching the US version I decided to finish it, for better or worse. I still haven't watched the original but I am planning on it, so this won't be a comparison of the two but rather my opinion on The Killing as a standalone series.
The show basically focuses on three different storylines and the detectives are the link between them as different people becomes suspects in the investigation. The two main characters being Seattle PD detectives Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman). Enos (Big Love) spends most of her time chewing gum and staring into space which gets annoying pretty quickly. If all the pregnant pauses were taken out of the show, it may not feel like it's dragging so much. To be fair to her, Enos deals well with the material that is given to her, but if the writing was a little punchier the character and the episodes may be a little more memorable. The story surrounding Linden involves her bratty son, a mother like figure and her fiancé. This element of the show I found to be rather boring, nothing was really added to the show by these characters. Sarah Linden is supposed to be leaving Seattle with her family but won't leave before the case is solved; this thread keeps on coming back up throughout the season even though you know she's not going to go anywhere. Episode 11 'Missing' was based around Linden's son and was the low point of the season for me. I want to know what happened to Rosie Larsen, not about a child acting out.
Joel Kinnaman (The Darkest Hour) is Linden's partner, the slightly shady Holder. Kinnaman basically has to just act annoyed for the majority of the season as Holder wants Linden's job. I think the writers took a little too long to get Holder over this and actually give a little backstory to the character. Once the partnership had developed the characters were much more interesting together. Holder is a good partner for Linden as someone who will do anything to get the job done; it leads for a good mix once the show gets going. Kinnaman is well cast as the creepy cop, I don't know if that's a compliment.
One of the main threads the show follows is that of the family of Rosie Larsen, her mother, Mitch (Michelle Forbes) and father, Stan (Brent Sexton) along with her younger brothers. Forbes (True Blood) spends the whole of the first season distraught over her daughter's death. Understandable seeing as each episode represents one day, 2 weeks isn't very long to get over a death especially in unsolved circumstances. However, Mitch does begin to grate a little and you kind of wish for something different as the season progresses. Mitch's husband Stan, played by Brent Sexton (Flightplan) has a few more layers to him and is given a wider range of emotions to show. This storyline also features Mitch's sister and Stan's friend and employee, Belko. Both are interesting characters and should perhaps have a larger role to play. The Larsen story is, obviously, quite depressing and so not the most enjoyable part of the series. It's nice to have that perspective shown as it is often overlooked in the more procedural crime/mystery shows, but at the same time you sometimes wish they'd get to solving the murder and stop showing miserable people. Not to sound heartless or anything.
The next story thread involves Councilman Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) who is trying to become Mayor and his two aides Gwen (Kristin Lehman) and Jamie (Eric Ladin). Richmond is painted as a fairly normal guy, still mourning his ex-wife whilst sleeping with Gwen. Campbell (The 4400) doesn't really put any life into the character; he comes across as fairly dull. It's his two aides Gwen and Jamie that are the more interesting characters; they seem more bothered about getting Richmond to mayor than he does. Kristin Lehman (The Sentinel) gets to play a little more than the love interest as Gwen Eaton, she's got a few brain cells to show off as well. Jamie Wright, played by Eric Ladin (Cursed), is really annoying but in a good way. He's a bit of a motor mouth that will do anything to get to the top. He is involved in the more interesting scenes involving the Councilman. At times, the storyline surrounding Richmond seems to be going nowhere and is quite turgid. There are many scenes that could have been cut, just another example of how the show could have been moved along quicker.
The final storyline revolves around Rosie Larsen's teacher Bennet Ahmed (Brandon Jay McLaren) and his pregnant wife. This is the storyline given the least attention and is definitely not as well developed but still plays an important role in the series. Ahmed is the caring teacher who may have cared a little too much for Rosie. McLaren (She's the Man) does a good job of keeping you guessing whether you can trust him or not, he's convincing as the nice teacher and as the creepy teacher. More could have been done with this character but Ahmed never overstayed his welcome during the season unlike many of the other characters.
The Killing starts off pretty well, introducing the characters quickly but with enough depth to make you feel like you know them and care about what happens. However, it stalls halfway through the 13 episode run when it is seemingly treading water waiting for the finale. Lots of stuff happens in the final couple of episodes in the season and of course there is THAT finale that had most people up in arms. I won't ruin it for people who haven't yet watched the show but I actually didn't mind the ending, I can go with it as long as the second season is full of episodes in which something actually happens.
As a murder mystery, The Killing is average. I like the fact the show builds every episode but there just aren't enough key moments in each episode. Something important is revealed in the last few minutes of an episode, it is then investigated in the first 5 minutes of the next episode, found to be not that important after all and then nothing much happens until the last few minutes of the episode, again. Building characters does take time yes, but there is a balance that needs to be kept in order to keep viewers tuning in and The Killing slowed just a little too much during its run. While it's a welcome change from the many episodic crime shows out there, the writing needs to be sharper to keep the show interesting, especially if they're going to spread out the plot so thinly. Characters eating various junk foods, shots of the never ending rain (Seattle doesn't rain that much, adds to the depressing feel of the show though I guess) and characters staring into the distance shouldn't fill as much of the show as they do. The Killing just misses the mark; the ingredients are there for a great show it just needs to execute better. I'll be watching the second season but if it's as slow as the first I may give up on it.
I haven't watched the DVD extras as, in my experience, extended scenes and deleted scenes add very little. There was a reason they were cut in the first place. Though I'm not a huge fan of DVD extras in general, I was a bit surprised there wasn't at least one documentary. Not much effort has been put into the DVD release I'm afraid.
'Orpheus Descending' extended episode
Mireille Enos - Sarah Linden
Joel Kinnaman - Stephen Holder
Michelle Forbes - Mitch Larsen
Brent Sexton - Stan Larsen
Brendan Sexton III - Belko Royce
Billy Campbell - Darren Richmond
Kristin Lehman - Gwen Eaton
Eric Ladin - Jamie Wright
Brandon Jay McLaren - Bennet Ahmed
Also posted on ciao under the username shabbating.