AMC has set itself up as the HBO or Showtime of basic cable. Over the past few years, the network has been acquiring shows like a seasoned collector. ‘Mad Men‘, ‘Breaking Bad‘, and ‘The Walking Dead‘ have all gone on to be critical successes, with popular opinion following in suit. Needless to say, I’ve come to expect nothing but the best from AMC when it comes to original dramas, which brings me to this past Sunday’s two-hour premier of ‘The Killing’.
First off, let me explain that while AMC’s programming is top-notch, its HD signal is one of the worst on cable. It’s frustratingly awful – noise, noise, noise in the picture and the sound. For some reason, the ambient noise is cranked up so loudly that the gulls cawing in the distance and the rain falling outside sometimes completely overpower the dialogue from the characters. This drove me insane. I’m sure that the eventual Blu-ray release will clear that all up, but until then, I’m going to have to suffer through it.
With that rant out of the way, let’s get to talking about the show. Josh wanted me to mention that ‘The Killing’ seems eerily similar to ‘Twin Peaks’. Believe it or not, I’ve never watched one single episode of ‘Twin Peaks’, so I couldn’t comment on any similarities, but feel free to make your feelings known in the comments.
To me, ‘The Killing’ has a very fine line to walk. Cases similar to the one portrayed in the show are solved in an hour or less on most ‘Law & Order’ episodes. How does ‘The Killing’, based on the murder of one girl, Rosie Larsen, not end up turning into an extended episode of ‘SVU’? I have faith that AMC will be able to put together a show that effectively carries this storyline throughout an entire season, but it’s a tricky proposition.
From the outset, you can tell that ‘The Killing’ is going to be a slow, methodical series that delves deeply into human emotions. How does a family deal with the murder of their daughter? How does a detective who is about to move away deal with her last big case? How does a local politician deal with the fact that this murder may be related to his campaign?
The show follows around three main groups of characters. First, there are the victim’s grieving mother Mitch Larsen (Michelle Forbes) and father Stan Larsen (Brent Sexton). Forbes and Sexton are great in these first two hours. Their plight as parents who have just lost their daughter feels very real because of their performances. Next, we have the two detectives investigating the case. Detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) is planning to move to California, but can’t seem to get away from this one last job which is becoming a bigger deal by the minute. The other detective, Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman), is an interesting character. He’s by far the most redneckish detective I’ve ever seen. It’s easy to see him as a police detective or a meth junkie, or both. Who knows? I think he’s hiding something. Finally, we have local Mayoral candidate Richmond (Billy Campbell). He’s running for office and can’t afford to have any scandals hit him. Rosie’s body was found in the trunk of one of his campaign vehicles. What’s he going to do now?
The first two hours of ‘The Killing’ have me intrigued. These characters aren’t the normal caricatures you see on police procedurals. They feel more real, more down to earth. I also enjoyed the plodding nature of the episodes. I didn’t feel like they’re trying to surprise me or keep my attention at every commercial break. Instead, suspense is built with the wide-sweeping camera shots and the very human performances. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, how about you?