Apr 10, 2011

AMC is Killing It!

The-Killing-300x225 While I think they may still show old movies, AMC is becoming the premium outlet for original hour-long dramas. Breaking Bad and Mad Men set a standard of excellence which Walking Dead maintained. But AMC may have hit a new high with The Killing, Sundays at 10PM/9C.  Based upon a Danish series (part of the new Nordic Noir era), The Killing will spend 13 episodes focused on the investigation of a single murder (that’s not a spoiler if you’ve read the title of the show).  For those who arethe-killing-tv-show-image-06-600x422 used to the weekly procedurals where the crime is solved in the last act (unless it is a Sweeps Week two-parter or a season-ending cliff hanger), this may be tedious. But those who were fans of the classic 1995 series, Murder One, or  even a show like Lost (although this has no super-natural elements) with its long form story telling, will find The Killing highly engaging.  As I said, if you remember Murder One, you’ll get that vibe from The Killing.  Fargo and Agatha Christie fans, you betcha this is your cup of tea.  And if you were a fan of the first season of Twin Peaks (because, frankly, after that, it sucked), you’ll find a lot that here too, sans the dwarf, log lady and damn fine cup of coffee.

Set in Seattle, filmed in Vancouver, The Killing follows Det. Sarah Linden,Det. Linden played by Mireille Enos (Big Love), a highly capable investigator scheduled to retire so she can move to Sonoma with her son and fiancĂ©. On her last day, she is partnered with her replacement, Det. Stephen Holder, portrayed by Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman, a much rougher The Killing (Season 1)detective used to being undercover and the techniques that go with that life. The two are sent to investigate a missing teenage girl, Rosie Larsen.  The investigation quickly leads them to contact the girl’s parents, Stanley and Mitch. (No, they are not a gay couple, Mitch is short for something female; not that there’s anything wrong with that.) Stanley and Mitch are superblythe-killing-the-cage_article_story_main acted by veteran character actor Brent Sexton (Justified, Life, Deadwood) and by sci-fi fan-boy favorite Michele Forbes (Star Trek:TNG, True Blood, 24). In the first hour alone, these two actors deliver an upper-division acting class, exhibiting a range from playfully lustful to concerned to worried to terrified to hysterical and heartbroken.

The leads are equally good. Det. Linden is trying to release herself from all of this to go start a new life, but you can see her curiosity taking hold, a perfect The Killing (Season 1)slow boil as certain clues fall into place, and as she becomes increasingly worried that Det. Holder won’t be up to the challenge of solving this case.  A political wrinkle is introduced with the character of Councilman Darren Richmond, a candidate for mayor, whose campaign is accidently linked to the murder. Richmond is played by Billy Campbell. It’s hard to know if he’s a sincere do-gooder or a more stereotypical sleazy politician (like his staffers). I have to wonder if I’m feeling this subtext due to his previous roles in Enough and The 4400.

So far, just two episodes in, The Killing plays like a great detective novel, with rich characters, great locations and realistic dialogue. Easily eight characters have been introduced who could be the culprit; many clues and twists are surely headed our way. The first two hours can be viewed on AMC here, the third is on now, with several repeats throughout the week.  My DVR has a series recording set, but this is the kind of show that I’ll give a 30 minute head-start (so I can skip the commercials), then watch on Sundays, because I will want to know as soon as I can what new clues have been found.

This is appointment TV at its best.

The Killing, AMC (DirecTV Channel 254), Sundays at 10PM/9C

More to Come.

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