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The Killing - Season One

Posted by The TV Critic on 22 June 2011 | 7 Comments

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The Killing - Season One

For those of you who followed my early posts you know that I wasn't that interested in The Killing. Long ago I lost interest in criminal investigation shows because of the predictable formula. To stretch that formula over a whole season always seemed like a big ask.

What had me and many people sucked in though was that this was AMC. This is the network that spawned Mad Men and Breaking Bad. At first glance the show seemed to have potential. Leads Linden and Holder felt like real people and the investigation and atmosphere was gritty and gloomy.

However the show rapidly fell into areas that I had no interest in. First off we never got to know any of the characters. Everyone seemed to be defined by what we didn't know about them. Stan had a crooked past, Linden had been on a similar case before, Richmond still thought about his dead wife, Holder was a drug addict, Bennett was involved with someone mysterious called Muhammed. That emphasis on what we didn't know made it hard to care about any of the characters. It also made the characters seem really stupid. Bennett Ahmed is hiding a Somali girl but won't even hint at this despite the threat to his life and livelihood Then Rosie's Aunt doesn't think it's worth discussing her career as an escort and Rosie's involvement in that.

That pattern of mystery and revelation was also the way the show chose to run the plot. So the show became a slow moving version of 24 where each episode would end with a new supposedly shocking revelation. Inevitably this felt like cheap manipulation and made everyone look stupid when one suspect after another looked incredibly guilty only for them to be cleared by episodes end. Time after time this dumb stuff would happen that insulted your intelligence as a viewer. In the season finale Linden and Holder interview a gas station owner who admits to clearly remembering a Black car with a girl's screams coming from it on the night of the murder. Now that is lazy writing!

What many must have found even more deeply frustrating was that we never did find out who killed Rosie Larssen. The producers went to their 24 bag and had Richmond facing assassination to close out the season. At least on 24 Jack Bauer killed all the bad guys before the season ending cliff hanger. Having hung around just to find out who did it I felt particularly annoyed at this ending.

Worse than the bait and switch was the fact that TV producers STILL think that vast conspiracies make for good TV. Rubicon, one of AMC's other shows was excellent in so many ways and yet it too went for Conspiracy. 24, Heroes, Prison Break, Flashforward, The Event and Lost all tried to create drama from the idea that secret organisations were pulling strings just off screen and it always made for unsatisfying and maddening results. I am beyond uninterested in who paid Holder to fake the photo of Richmond. It's irrelevant, there will be no justice for viewers. I wish more producers would learn the real lesson that The Wire taught us. Humans are greedy and selfish and tend to do what is the easiest thing for their survival. That simple story of corruption is how humans really live and relate to one another. If there were vast conspiracies out there I'm pretty sure someone would have sold the story to a desperate media outlet for a generous sum.

The Killing was a bad and dull show. Despite its renewal for a second season it has failed in its attempt to become a beloved cable show like its fellow AMC shows. I expect ratings to be low for Season Two and its cancellation to follow soon after that.


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  • No way. It's the fact that "The Killing" was more focussed on silly twists than characters that drove me away.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 04/07/2011 11:19am (8 years ago)

  • I couldn't disagree with you more. It sounds like you would be happier watching an episode of CSI than watching a rich, character-driven program like "The Killing".

    Posted by Doug in LA, 04/07/2011 1:32am (8 years ago)

  • I've mailed you privately to avoid spoilers.

    Posted by Mark B, 23/06/2011 8:31pm (8 years ago)

  • Agreed about Rubicon. And yes I will definitely write about Twin Peaks. It's definitely the weirdest thing I have ever seen. Deadwood on the other hand is excellent. I'm only 6 episodes in but loving it.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 23/06/2011 5:50pm (8 years ago)

  • The saddest part is this boring yawner got renewed while Rubicon (which I've just made it through) was cancelled.

    Sure, Rubicon was flawed, but easily a better and more interesting show than this.

    Will you be writing any notes on Twin Peaks? I am very curious as to your thoughts. Very quirky, very dated in some ways, intentionally soap operatic at times (even though "intentionally" doesn't acquit it from some weak characters and moments)...but in my mind the greatest murder mystery ever.

    I don't know if it was that they fleshed out many characters outside of the murder mystery or what...but some how I was engaged the whole time...unlike shows like The Killing and the crappy Happy Town.

    Posted by Brando, 23/06/2011 3:35pm (8 years ago)

  • Who was the killer in that?

    Posted by The TV Critic, 23/06/2011 9:29am (8 years ago)

  • Glad I stopped watching when I did and switched to Forbrydelsen where there is a definitive conclusion.

    Posted by Mark B, 22/06/2011 9:25pm (8 years ago)

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