April 2, 2011


AMC’s The Killing shows true l-o-n-g arm of the law (Scott Stinson Mar 30, 2011, National Post)

Pick one of your favourite episodes from any of the police procedurals of recent years. A particularly good CSI, your favourite Criminal Minds, maybe a vintage NYPD Blue. You can even pick a great Law & Order, but only the first half — with the cops, but before the lawyers.

Now s-t-r-e-t-c-h it out over a full season, and you have The Killing.

I mean this in a good way. It might sound tedious to play out a murder investigation over 13 one-hour episodes, but that’s what AMC is doing with its newest series. And it’s a concept that, after Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, keeps the channel’s streak of very well-crafted dramas going.

The pacing is, rather obviously, the biggest difference. It takes the length of the pilot episode for the homicide cops to even discover a body, when that usually happens by the first commercial break, if not before the title sequence. But by lingering around as the case develops, the producers of The Killing, which is adapted from a Danish series — not British, Danish! — allow the characters to become far more substantial, with heart-rending results.

A Thinking Woman’s Detective (ALESSANDRA STANLEY, 4/01/11, NY Times)
Sergio Leone gave cinema the spaghetti western, but there isn’t yet an equivalent term for Scandinavian riffs on the classic hard-boiled detective yarn. “The Killing,” a fantastic new AMC adaptation of a popular Danish television series, certainly qualifies as a smorgasbord thriller. It’s unnerving how well the Nordic sensibility fits a genre that for a long time seemed indisputably and inimitably violent and American, particularly given that Sweden, Norway and Denmark have homicide rates that suggest that they have more mystery writers per capita than murders.

There are so many Scandinavian crime solvers besides Henning Mankell’s gloomy detective, Kurt Wallander, or Steig Larsson’s hacker heroine, Lisbeth Salander. Yet even among all those popular imports, “The Killing” stands out — it is as scary and suspenseful, but in a subdued, meditative way that is somehow all the more chilling.

This American version of “Forbrydelsen,” which begins on Sunday, relocates the story to Seattle, a West Coast city that in climate and moodiness comes as close as any to Northern Europe. The first season on AMC is shorter than the original 20-part Danish series, which transfixed viewers in Britain, subtitles and all. But the AMC interpretation is faithful to the three-strand plot, characters and mood of the original, so much so that it almost seems like a perfectly dubbed foreign-language film. The premiere opens with two women running, one a jogger striding purposefully through Arcadian woods at the break of dawn, the other a terrified girl, clothes torn, crashing through trees and bramble in the dark of night, followed by an implacable flashlight. The murder of a high school girl quickly entwines the police, the victim’s family and a prominent local politician.

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Posted by at April 2, 2011 4:28 AM

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