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#21 Gavin Breeden

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 10:26 PM

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.

#22 winter shaker

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 11:58 PM

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...

Spoiler


#23 Nathan Douglas

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 12:19 AM

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, 21 June 2011 - 12:23 AM.


#24 Thom Wade

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 08:36 AM

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?

#25 Gavin Breeden

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 12:27 PM

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.

#26 NBooth

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 08:19 AM

I've still not found the time to finish this one, but my ears still perk up whenever news of it crosses my computer screen. This essay especially caught my attention:

Reconsidering The Killing as a Feminine Narrative Form

In our own informal criticism of the show (conveyed primarily by chat), we shared our puzzlement at the expectation of certain critics and audiences who believed that The Killing should behave like a conventional police procedural or mystery story, with tightly crafted plot moments based around what is considered “action.” To the contrary, we found pleasure in the ways The Killing allowed its melodramatic emotion – not to mention the camerawork – to linger beyond the boundaries of its official generic conventions and connect itself to another genre that is closely associated with television: the daytime soap opera. We wonder how anyone could miss the soapiness of Sud’s series.


(Although, as far as I can tell, Salon's problem with the show was precisely that it hewed too closely to "a conventional police procedural or mystery story.")

Later, the authors argue:

Framing The Killing according to the notion of a feminine narrative form, we suggest, is a necessary intervention. Tania Modleski’s seminal piece on the soap opera foregrounds the vexing manner by which the central questions emerge within a soap — questions of paternity, questions of “whodunit” quite similar to The Killing’s “Who killed Rosie Larsen?” — and then demonstrates how the operative logic of the genre is ultimately one of deferred resolution and extended waiting for the viewer.2 What’s more, when the question is resolved it only generates more questions, making the viewer almost wish the damned question was not answered in the first place.


(Although Twin Peaks did the same thing and wasn't weighed down by a--I think, at halfway through the series, I'm allowed to make this judgment--frankly boring political angle).

Meanwhile, The Killing has hit British shores. Here's a review, which spends most of its running recapping plot-points and comparing the show to the Danish original. My favorite stuff is in the comments, though; as self-important as Guardian commentators tend to be, they can be pretty amusing, too. Particularly the bits where they suggest it should have been sub-titled (there's a pleasing shock in realizing that, somewhere, someone thinks that accents you take for granted are impenetrable).

EDIT: One of those selfsame commentators reminds me that there's a novelization of the original series on the way from author David Hewson. Adaptations upon adaptations.

Edited by NBooth, 08 July 2011 - 08:28 AM.


#27 NBooth

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Posted 21 July 2011 - 02:32 PM

Just finished the series--finally. Can't say I'm too let down by the ending (mostly because I knew it was coming), but the series definitely took a dive early on and I'm not sure it's recovered enough. My main complaint--echoing complaints voiced elsewhere--is the nonsensical teacher plot that ate up the whole middle of the season. I mean, really--first, it kept the cops from doing real copwork (I think someone said that they do better investigation when the boy goes missing than anywhere else in the series). And second--it's absolutely useless. Nothing leading to it gets a pay-off in that storyline, and once it ends everyone goes around more or less pretending it never happened. It amounts to a good chunk of the series just spinning its wheels.

That said, if we could excise those episodes and skip straight from the Hole to the casino, I think we would have a reasonably good (though not spectacular) series. Hopefully next season the writers will get their act together, though the way they blow a perfectly satisfying solution in favor of a last-minute twist doesn't give me much hope. And I'm frankly angry at the sudden revelation regarding one of the investigators; that character is one of my favorites, and seeing all that development seemingly thrown away to make a hook for the next season is disheartening.

EDIT: And let me withdraw the comments on the "frankly boring political angle." It was certainly boring when I wrote the post--in the middle of the wheel-spinning episodes--but once it actually clicks into place things get a little more interesting. Still, if you substitute "slightly boring" you'll have it about right.

Edited by NBooth, 21 July 2011 - 02:35 PM.


#28 Tyler

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 02:28 PM

Who killed Rosie Larsen won't be revealed until the end of the 2nd season.

#29 John Drew

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 08:30 PM

I'll tune in at that point, but I won't waste my time with another full season.

#30 Scholar's Parrot

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 01:34 AM

I'll tune in at that point, but I won't waste my time with another full season.


I think this is pretty much...everyone.

#31 winter shaker

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 12:49 PM

I'm about midway through Twin Peaks. The Killing gets compared to that program a lot, but I think The Killing has maintained its quality whereas after about the tenth episode, I'm realizing that Twin Peaks is getting too soap-opera-ish (a very technical term) for my tastes. The Killing is still my second-favourite AMC show after Breaking Bad.

#32 Tyler

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 02:03 PM

after about the tenth episode, I'm realizing that Twin Peaks is getting too soap-opera-ish (a very technical term) for my tastes.


Do you meant the tenth of the series, or the tenth of the second season?

Either way, it just keeps going down in that direction. Except the final episode, which is bat s**t awesome.

#33 MattPage

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 06:06 PM

I'm almost halfway through the original Danish series. I'll start a new thread for that though. Later.

Matt

#34 winter shaker

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 01:40 AM


after about the tenth episode, I'm realizing that Twin Peaks is getting too soap-opera-ish (a very technical term) for my tastes.


Do you meant the tenth of the series, or the tenth of the second season?

Either way, it just keeps going down in that direction. Except the final episode, which is bat s**t awesome.


The tenth episode of the series. The Donna-James-Maddie love triangle is killing me (even though I've already seen how it plays out).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ji_K99Ff5tE

Edited by winter shaker, 16 January 2012 - 02:02 AM.


#35 NBooth

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 12:42 PM



after about the tenth episode, I'm realizing that Twin Peaks is getting too soap-opera-ish (a very technical term) for my tastes.


Do you meant the tenth of the series, or the tenth of the second season?

Either way, it just keeps going down in that direction. Except the final episode, which is bat s**t awesome.


The tenth episode of the series. The Donna-James-Maddie love triangle is killing me (even though I've already seen how it plays out).


Pretty much anything to do with James sends me into a milder sort of rage. The only character more useless than he is Nadine, and she at least has the virtue of being weird. James is just hopelessly bland, and the storylines he gets tend to be the most irritating of the lot.

I've not decided if I'm going to bother with season 2 of The Killing yet. I've still got The Wire and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. to get through.

#36 winter shaker

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 01:31 AM




after about the tenth episode, I'm realizing that Twin Peaks is getting too soap-opera-ish (a very technical term) for my tastes.


Do you meant the tenth of the series, or the tenth of the second season?

Either way, it just keeps going down in that direction. Except the final episode, which is bat s**t awesome.


The tenth episode of the series. The Donna-James-Maddie love triangle is killing me (even though I've already seen how it plays out).


Pretty much anything to do with James sends me into a milder sort of rage. The only character more useless than he is Nadine, and she at least has the virtue of being weird. James is just hopelessly bland, and the storylines he gets tend to be the most irritating of the lot.


I like Nadine's storyline because it's so bizarre.

But I found the plot involving James having a fling with Evelyn to be less annoying than Benjamin Horne's ridiculous Civil War episode.



#37 NBooth

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 10:20 AM





after about the tenth episode, I'm realizing that Twin Peaks is getting too soap-opera-ish (a very technical term) for my tastes.


Do you meant the tenth of the series, or the tenth of the second season?

Either way, it just keeps going down in that direction. Except the final episode, which is bat s**t awesome.


The tenth episode of the series. The Donna-James-Maddie love triangle is killing me (even though I've already seen how it plays out).


Pretty much anything to do with James sends me into a milder sort of rage. The only character more useless than he is Nadine, and she at least has the virtue of being weird. James is just hopelessly bland, and the storylines he gets tend to be the most irritating of the lot.


I like Nadine's storyline because it's so bizarre.

But I found the plot involving James having a fling with Evelyn to be less annoying than Benjamin Horne's ridiculous Civil War episode.


Yup. I think I blocked that part out of my memory. There's some serious wheel-spinning going on in season 2.

Speaking of wheel spinning, the DVD for season 1 of The Killing has a release date: March 13th. And special features:

  • Commentary on the Pilot with Veena Sud
  • An Autopsy of The Killing
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Gag Reel
  • "Orpheus Descending" -- extended season finale
  • Commentary on "Orpheus Descending"


Looks like Amazon U.S. will be selling it at $45 for the DVD and $54 for the blu-ray. Not that too many people around here will be rushing out to buy it. I won't--I bought the whole darn season on Amazon Unbox, and that's as much as I need to spend on it).

Meanwhile, the original version is--of course--still not available in the U.S.

Edited by NBooth, 01 February 2012 - 10:22 AM.


#38 winter shaker

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 01:06 AM






after about the tenth episode, I'm realizing that Twin Peaks is getting too soap-opera-ish (a very technical term) for my tastes.


Do you meant the tenth of the series, or the tenth of the second season?

Either way, it just keeps going down in that direction. Except the final episode, which is bat s**t awesome.


The tenth episode of the series. The Donna-James-Maddie love triangle is killing me (even though I've already seen how it plays out).


Pretty much anything to do with James sends me into a milder sort of rage. The only character more useless than he is Nadine, and she at least has the virtue of being weird. James is just hopelessly bland, and the storylines he gets tend to be the most irritating of the lot.


I like Nadine's storyline because it's so bizarre.

But I found the plot involving James having a fling with Evelyn to be less annoying than Benjamin Horne's ridiculous Civil War episode.


Yup. I think I blocked that part out of my memory. There's some serious wheel-spinning going on in season 2.


I can't think of a series that fell off the rails so fast other than perhaps Heroes - both had such promise.

But yeah, from Bob to Windham Earle and Andrew Packard...what a mess.




#39 winter shaker

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 08:40 PM

And...it's cancelled.

http://blogs.amctv.c...the-killing.php

#40 Tyler

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 11:56 PM

Looks like The Killing is coming back to life.

[Insert Walking Dead joke here.]