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The Killing

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AMC's new show, The Killing, starts April 3, 2011.

Apparently, it is based on a Danish TV miniseries.

According to AMC, the show:

ties together three distinct stories around a single murder including the detectives assigned to the case, the victim's grieving family and the suspects. Set in Seattle, the story also explores local politics as it follows politicians connected to the case. As the series unfolds, it becomes clear that there are no accidents; everyone has a secret, and while the characters think they've moved on, their past isn't done with them.

A TV show about the murder investigation of a young woman in the Northwestern United States...now, where have I heard that before...

To be fair, I think the Twin Peaks similarities end there. I'm definitely looking forward to this show, but sad that it is pushing Breaking Bad into AMC's summer slot.

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I've only seen the brief trailers for the show but AMC consistently produces quality series (although I wasn't too fond of Rubicon).

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Cinema Blend has a review of the premier:

The acting here is top notch, especially from Enos and Kinnaman as the two detectives. Enos beguiles not with traditional overdone sexiness, but with an earnestness that is backed up by her practical ponytail. Don't mess with a woman who wears her hair in a ponytail, she's probably smarter than you and is certainly more atune to her surroundings. Kinnaman plays off of Enos quite well, and brings a subtle intelligence to the role that isn't initially noticed. While the murder mystery aspect of the series is a little paint by the numbers, the fresh perspective of showcasing how everyone deals with it provides The Killing with a hook that makes the show worth taking a look at. It may be a little cold and calculating for some, but this is a show that builds steadily and intensely. Just a few episodes in and you’ll want more than anything to know what happens next.

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I don't have much more to say than I really enjoyed the first two episodes. Alot. As in I'm totally hooked. Thankfully, both itunes and amazon carried the first two episodes for free since we don't have AMC at our house. The wife and I liked it enough that we're going to do the Season Pass thing that we had to do with Mad Men.

I can get the easy comparisons to Twin Peaks: both take place in the Northwest. Both shows are put in motion by the unexpected murder of a high school student. Both shows are primarily about the investigation. Both are marketed as a whodunnit, "who killed ...?"

But beyond that they end: Twin Peaks took place in a small town, the Killing takes place in Seattle. This totally changes the dynamic. Twin Peaks has a quirky outsider leading the investigation. The Killing has two local detectives. Actually, the opposite approaches of the detectives is more similar to the X-Files than Twin Peaks. Twin Peaks, from the beginning, was fully of quirky outlandish characters and absurd humor. The Killing is much more realist in its approach. The characters are much more believable as people.

And it's that last point that got me hooked. Don't get me wrong, I love the whodunnit aspect, but the acting has been tremendous. They make you believe the characters you're watching are real people with real motives, real grief, real lives.

I'm excited to see how this one plays out.

Did anyone watch the original Danish version? I've heard they've adapted it liberally to avoid any spoilers.

Edited by Kyle

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I also loved the first two episodes (last night's is till on my DVR awaiting a free hour this week). The scene where they found the daughter nearly had me in tears (and I don't cry often with TV/movies).

I'll also be interested to see if the crucifix tattoo has any spiritual significance for Holder, or if it's a side effect of his undercover days. Linden seemed to mock it briefly, but she has that world-weary look of someone who's seen too much evil to believe anymore.

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I just managed to watch the first episode, and I've got to echo the praise this is getting. I won't have much more to say until I managed to squeeze in a few more episodes (and since the internet is still spotty in my area, that might be a while). It's nothing like Twin Peaks, though; if anything, it's closer to British shows like Luther or Collision, with its deadpan (and depressed) characters and its cold look (it also looks very Danish--which is understandable, I suppose).

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Still enjoying this show, but my enthusiasm is waning a bit. Several of the episodes lately have just been kind of...um...dull. The quality of writing and acting is always good, I just find myself getting a little bored at times. And as well as the actors playing Rosie's parents can act, seeing them mourn week after week is just a bit draining. And I'm a little annoyed at how they keep finding excuses for Linden not to catch her flight or to stay for just a day longer. Also, my prediction for the killer:

Linden's creepy boyfriend. I know it's a long-shot and I don't have a ton of evidence for my case right now, but that's been my guess since episode one.

Kind of hoping some things get shaken up a bit heading into the final stretch of the season.

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I thought this review would further excite me about seeing this show, but instead, it, ummm, "killed" my enthusiasm.

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Still enjoying this show, but my enthusiasm is waning a bit. Several of the episodes lately have just been kind of...um...dull. The quality of writing and acting is always good, I just find myself getting a little bored at times. And as well as the actors playing Rosie's parents can act, seeing them mourn week after week is just a bit draining. And I'm a little annoyed at how they keep finding excuses for Linden not to catch her flight or to stay for just a day longer.

This is one aspect of a show that, while not shown in "real time" like 24, is close enough to it that the performances have to be handled in the manner they are. I too was getting a little peeved at the prolonged anguish of the parents, but looking back at the story arc, only a small amount of time has passed on the show. I mean, the parents only picked out Rosie's casket in episode 4, an act that usually takes place a day or two after a death... That's something that I was dealing with for my dad the day after he died. So, while five or six weeks have passed for us the audience, we are watching a story that has only taken place for maybe a week.

Passage of time has been a bit confusing for me, or perhaps not strongly handled by the shows editors. An early episode (2 or 3) had mom's breakdown in the bath tub. She's shown going into the bath tub, while the boys are hanging around around the kitchen. The story shifts to the investigation, which seemed to cover quite a bit of time, going from location to location to interview suspects and track down leads. Then to the political subplot for some more intrigue there. Cut back to the Larsen house... kid's still hanging around the kitchen... dad walks in and ask what they had for dinner, and where mom's at. They respond that they haven't eaten yet, and that mom's in the tub. That was one long bath!

I've stopped making plans to watch the show when it's aired, and have decided to DVR it. I like it well enough, but I think it may play better in one long sitting. Much the same as my experience with HBO's Band of Brothers.

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I still enjoy the show and look forward to it each week. And considering the absolute massacre of television shows on the major networks (V, No Ordinary Family, The Event, etc...) it's one of the few shows that's kept on going.

My prediction for the killer is:

Terry Marek, Mitch's younger sister. She certainly has had greater access to Rosie compared to a lot of the other suspects.

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Still a couple of weeks behind, so I'll have to wait on my killer prediction (since whatever I think has probably already been ruled out by new developments).

I'm with Baal, though, that I have to remind myself each time that only a few days have passed in the story's world. It has helped to watch a couple of episodes in a row with DVR, though. But the bleakness makes it hard to watch more than a couple at one time anyway. Need a break after two hours of good, but downbeat material.

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I missed an episode or two, but one thing I really like is the way they're handling sin and forgiveness. So many characters are begging for it and not a lot is being given out. Not because these people are particularly awful--they're not particularly anything--but the audacity and commitment to forgivness isn't something taken on lightly.

Is Seattle really that dreary at times?

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Is Seattle really that dreary at times?

If you're talking about the weather... yep.

If you're talking people, all I can say is that they weren't too forgiving of Californians when I lived there in the early 90's. Too many of us moving up there in a short period of time. When I went to apply for a driver's license, the girl at the desk asked what state I was coming from. I told her California, and she rolled her eyes and said, "Ugggh... figures." Now, that could be taken one of two ways, I guess. One: She hated all the influx of Californians. Two: Just a typical DMV attitude that can be found in all 50 states. :P

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You who are more caught up--is this a fair reading?

"How 'The Killing' Killed Itself"

Watching the first season of "The Killing" has been a uniquely weird experience, like watching the first season of "Homicide: Life on the Street" morph into "Scooby Doo." I can't think of another American crime drama that started so strong and imploded so quickly.

See also: the AV Club's review of the latest episode, which begins:

Remember, if you can, way back in April 2011 when we all worried The Killing was going to be a tepid version of Twin Peaks?

If only.

I'm several weeks behind (catching up on Amazon Unbox) and find myself very disheartened by word of recent episodes....

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Yeah, it has been slowly sliding of the rails. Rubicon began to do this in the final two episodes. It is just unfortunate that The Killing started that direction this soon.

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Yeah, I agree. I read both of those reviews and they summed up my feelings perfectly. The show has fallen into a predictable and bland 24-esque routine. Raise a suspect or issue in the last few moments of an episode and then eliminate them in the first ten minutes of the next episode. MZS's point in the Salon article about the absurdity of the coincidences in the most recent episode is right on, this formerly smart show is now insulting our intelligence. They have spent a good deal of time on the political story, and I fear that that entire aspect of the show may have little to do with the ending.

Most damning for me is that I really don't know much more about any character than I did two episodes into the season. A show that is this light on plot, must make up for it with character development. But they typically give us neither. I'll keep tuning in, hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

Spoiler-y quote from AV Club review (OK to read if you are caught up on the show):

Best quote in AV Club review was:

While Stan was punching Bennet, Belko was punching a rock. If he didn’t kill Rosie, then my name is Bennet Ahmed.

I noticed that in the background and found it absolutely hysterical. Go back and watch, Stan's little worker guy is seariously punching a rock while Stan beats Bennet senseless. The reviewer may be on to something.

-------------------------------------------

Yeah, it has been slowly sliding of the rails. Rubicon began to do this in the final two episodes. It is just unfortunate that The Killing started that direction this soon.

Yeah, The Killing is definitely sliding sooner and faster. I'm still a sad about Rubicon's cancellation.

Edited by Gavin Breeden

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Hmm, I have the opposite reaction to the newer episodes; I found Rubicon lethargic from the start (I made it through maybe half the season?). I know that none of the "obvious" suspects are Rosie's killer but I don't mind them dragging the murder investigation out. I think the last three episodes should be great.

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Well, that was the worst season finale ever. And, by the looks of my twitter feed, I'm not alone in that belief.

I'll come back tomorrow with more thoughts. But right now my biggest complaint is that "Rubicon" got cancelled and this got renewed?!?!

AMC is certainly not infallible.

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Well, that was the worst season finale ever. And, by the looks of my twitter feed, I'm not alone in that belief.

I'll come back tomorrow with more thoughts. But right now my biggest complaint is that "Rubicon" got cancelled and this got renewed?!?!

AMC is certainly not infallible.

This finale made me angry that I wasted any time watching the series in the first place. The final five miutes seemed entirely tacked on, and I wouldn't be surprised if the renewed for next season factor played a major part in it. Awful! And just when I thought there was no chance that last nights other major disappointment, Falling Skies, could be topped.

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The actual reason for the finale worked out like it did was that the Danish series had 20 episodes, AMC had 13.

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SPOILERS AHEAD

Here are a collection of reviews I read today. Not only are they all extremely negative, many of them literally refer to the finale as one of the worst of all-time. There have also been discussions on twitter and elsewhere about the damage this has done/will do to the AMC brand.

Maureen Ryan:

Strap yourselves in, folks. Get ready for the angriest television-related screed I think I've ever written. I'm not sure how to start, except to say that I hated the season finale of 'The Killing' with the burning intensity of 10,000 white-hot suns.

Let me be clear, I hold the show's executive producer and head writer, Veena Sud, responsible for a season-ender that not only DID NOT tell us who killed Rosie Larsen but turned Holder into a villain and did a number of other stupidly melodramatic, preposterously manipulative things. But I blame AMC executives as much as Sud -- if not more.

...'The Killing,' in the last two months or so, has been a waste of time. This week, it turned into a giant insult. This wasn't a swing and a miss. Those are forgivable and expected on networks that take chances with their material. This hour was, in my opinion, the worst season finale of all time, because it was a terrible execution of a set of colossally stupid, misguided and condescending ideas. And clearly, people at the network have known about what would be in the finale for some time. They should have stopped it. All of it.

Alan Sepinwall:

So this will be the last review I write of "The Killing," because this will be the last time I watch "The Killing." Because I have no interest in going forward with a show that treats its audience this way.

...At this point, "The Killing" has virtually nothing else. It utterly failed to make Rosie herself matter. It failed at making Stan and Mitch into anything but monotonous engines of grief. It failed to make the political campaign the least bit interesting at any point. And while it briefly turned Linden and Holder into three-dimensional humans with the episode a few weeks ago that put the investigation on hold, a lot of that was undercut by the Holder reveal here at the end. Obviously, the stuff about his addiction, his sister and his nephew was true, but the building of the relationship and trust with Linden wasn't.

...Sud also said that part of the point of ending the season this way was to remind the audience that this isn't a formula cop show, and they can throw out their expectations. But she's wrong. This show DOES have a formula, one that's very easy to anticipate now. Because all you really have to understand about "The Killing" - and what should have made me anticipate where the finale was going, only even I couldn't fathom that the creative team would so fundamentally misread their audience in that way - is this:

Every single thing this show tells you is a lie.

Andy Greenwald at The Vulture:

Now, does that mean that a creative person owes an audience resolution? Wholeheartedly, we say: no. As the contentious Ms. Sud makes it abundantly clear in the above quote, she never intended to give us poor saps what we thought we deserved. And we could have lived without resolution if there had been anything else at all worth living for. But the finale was just the last in a long, frustrating, and soggy line of cheap fake-outs, preposterous 180s, and colossal storytelling disappointments. By last night’s episode, we were Rosie Larsen: huddled, miserable in the dark woods waiting for the killer to reveal himself. And, unlike Rosie, we were denied even that.

...No. In reality, the only crime we’re concerned with is the one just perpetrated by AMC. Back in April, when the show was launching, the rain was falling, and hopes — including ours! — were as high as the space needle, Veena Sud gave an interview in which she mused, “As writers, we’re not writing to the end, we’re along on this journey.” Unfortunately, the journey they took us on was in the campaign car and it ended up in the bottom of a lake: water-logged and completely sunk. A good television show should be about the journey, not the destination. So it shouldn’t take even Detective Linden very long to connect the dots and arrive at the truth: The Killing was not a good television show.

And my personal favorite, this list from the AV Club's review contains some of the examples of poor writing we've seen this season:

To get to the bottom of this, I decided to make a list (I was inspired by Holder, I guess) of all the far-fetched occurrences and unlikely coincidences that have taken place across the course of the season and—guess what?—it’s pretty damn long. If I have missed (or misrepresented) any, please weigh in, but here’s what I came up with. Brace yourselves:

  • Rosie’s best friend borrows her wig, then has sex with her boyfriend in the school’s dank basement, while bleeding profusely from her nose, while another guy wearing a devil mask records it on his phone.
  • Also, a pervy janitor named after the late Lyndon Johnson is watching the whole thing happen.
  • Said janitor turns out to be pedophile, jumps out of window, ends up in hospital.
  • Rosie's parents don’t call their daughter all weekend, detectives never find out why.
  • Other seemingly basic things Holder and Linden don’t do until well after Bennet is cleared: scour Rosie’s computer (as in, not just take a quick look at her internet history); check the fuel levels and mileage of the car in which her dead body was found; call cab companies to see if anyone picked up a girl fitting Rosie’s description.
  • Stan buys house without telling his wife.
  • A teacher with a track record of dating his students also has an unusually close relationship with Rosie, but there’s nothing untoward going on between them.
  • Bennet helps a young Somali girl procure a fake passport so she can flee to Canada to avoid ritual circumcision.
  • Somali girl hides out in a meat locker that has been converted into a bedroom, which Linden and Holder happen to discover at the exact same moment as an FBI raid.
  • Somali girl also just so happens to have the exact same T-shirt as Rosie.
    Mitch waits a week to do laundry, so doesn’t find Rosie’s T-shirt until after Stan has beat the shit out of Bennet.
  • FBI agent leaves truck containing evidence unattended, door wide open.
  • Despite the fact that he’s facing murder charges, Bennet is unwilling to tell police what he was really doing the night of Rosie’s murder.
  • Mitch leaves her two surviving children in garage while car is running, forgets about them.
  • Between the school dance and her shift at the casino, Rosie felt the need to schlep out to Bennet’s house to return a book, even though she would have seen him Monday morning at school.
  • Bennet’s wife does not recognize the man who has already confessed to beating her husband into a coma, a man who is also the father of the girl Bennet was accused of killing.
  • Everything Holder has been doing all along has been part of an elaborate effort to frame Richmond.
  • Not 1 but 2 suspects in Rosie’s killing fall victim to acts of vigilante justice.
  • Creepy stalker Belko basically lives with Larsens and is infatuated with Rosie, but has nothing to do with her’s murder.
  • Neither does her sadistic ex-boyfriend.
  • Neither does Richmond, who is hung up on his dead wife, fixated with brunettes, and often says creepy, threatening things to escorts.

There was also this interview with show runner Veena Sud by Alan Sepinwall. It included little nuggets like this:

We never said you'll get closure at the end of season 1. We said from the very beginning this is the anti-cop cop show. It's a show where nothing is what it seems, so throw out expectations. We will not tie up this show in a bow. There are plenty of shows that do that, in 45 minutes or whatever amount of time, where that is expected and the audience can rest assured that at the end of blank, they will be happy and they can walk away from their TV satisfied. This is not that show.

You certainly don't have to worry about people walking away satisfied.

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I didn't mind the finale that much, although I thought the rest of the season was better overall. Meh, I guess I'm just not a good critic.

In case people haven't seen the finale yet...

It was too obvious that it was Richmond. From the start of the season he seemed too apparent that it was him.

This is what I think happened. Richmond was probably sleeping with Rosie and something happened that made Rosie nervous. When they got to the gas station, she tried to make a run for it. Richmond, not wanting her to squeal to the authorities, and also worried that she could endanger herself wandering through the forest at 1:30-2 am, pursued her. They said Rosie's foot was torn up from running. I think she might have slipped or fallen into the water and accidentally drowned herself. Richmond comes across her body and wants to try to cover it up as best he can and so he puts the body in the trunk and ditches it in the lake. Meanwhile, Holder is either working with the current mayor or Drexler.

Or maybe I'm just not a good Hardy boy.

Also, the ending, specifically when Belko pulls out the gun, reminded me a lot of the season two finale of 24.

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But right now my biggest complaint is that "Rubicon" got cancelled and this got renewed?!?!

No kidding.

And my personal favorite, this list from the AV Club's review contains some of the examples of poor writing we've seen this season:

Ouch. I imagine those holes will become a lot more obvious when viewed in quick succession. The Killing's TV scheduling may have harmed the show's real-time feel, but it also helped hide the fact that very little was happening.

Looking back, I think I began mentally checking out of this show after "Super 8," when Rosie the alleged popular/party-girl turns out to be a sweet and sensitive artist in her spare time -- so far, ok -- who shoots... SUPER 8 footage? Not a little HD camcorder, or her dad's miniDV camera, or even a cell phone camera, (or any one of those with the usual canned fake film effects built in) but actually shooting cute little essay films on the most esoteric type of a declining format, one that takes a lot of time, money, and passion to pursue in 2011. Which she does in between the basement raves, secret escorting, and hanging with her teacher. Give me a break.

Over the course of my activities in a university film program, I've met dozens and dozens of passionate young filmmakers and enthusiasts and even among that group there's only a tiny handful that are working with Super 8 intermittently and in their spare time. I'm not going to believe that high school partier Rosie shares their passion without the evidence of her being someone very different.

It's a minor detail compared to the gaping holes listed above, but it had incredible implications about who Rosie really was. The writers never took those opportunities to heart.

As for the rest of the season and finale, I'm sort of relieved they capsized things so drastically. It makes the decision to tune out next season a lot easier.

Edited by N.W. Douglas

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I've not watched the Killing at all...but I kind of wonder...Why should we expect full closure (case solved) at the end of the season? I am always kind of mystified by this expectation... I remember hearing it at the end of many a first season of serialized shows. I remember people upset because Lost had not answered everything by the end of season one. I don't know...so they can have some story to tell in season 2?

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I've not watched the Killing at all...but I kind of wonder...Why should we expect full closure (case solved) at the end of the season? I am always kind of mystified by this expectation... I remember hearing it at the end of many a first season of serialized shows. I remember people upset because Lost had not answered everything by the end of season one. I don't know...so they can have some story to tell in season 2?

It's based on a very popular TV show which has had two seasons (so far, another is in the works, I think). Each season covered one big investigation. Season 1 was about the murder of a teenage girl and season 1 of "The Killing" was closely based on that but they said they would change the killer and a few other details. So we had every reason to believe that they would wrap this investigation up at the end of the season and then start a new one in season 2. (It's true that "The Killing" had less episodes than the Danish version, but I think most viewers and critics still expected the one season = one investigation format.)

Also, every commercial and ad for this show since February has contained the phrase: "Who Killed Rosie Larsen?" indicating that this was the primary question for the season (since a second season was never guaranteed). I think very few people thought the season would end without revealing the killer until they saw the final minutes of the finale.

Now, this wouldn't have been such a grave offense had the show given us more to enjoy. I love "Twin Peaks" and they didn't wrap up the case at the end of season 1, but that show gave us interesting characters and weird dreams and other stuff to keep us coming back. I, like many others, stopped enjoying "The Killing" a few weeks ago and continued to tune in just to see who the killer was. This is probably a big reason for the frustration that many viewers had.

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