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The Killing: Pilot

“Mrs Larsen, do you have a daughter?”

The Danish series Forbrydelsen (The Crime) is one of the best crime dramas of the last few years. Powered by a phenomenal performance by Sofie Gråbøl as Detective Inspector Sarah Lund and her now legendary jumpers (jumpers are cool), it plays out like a Scandinavian cross between Twin Peaks and State of Play.

One of the great things about Forbrydelsen is that it shuns all sense of instant gratification that your typical CBS crime procedural show revels in. The longer format and measured pace allowed for greater depth and more emphasis on character. Here all crimes aren't solved in less than 45 minutes thanks to flashy forensic magic. Also, the victim’s family aren't used simply to provide teary-eyed exposition and additional motivation for the hero go out and catch the killer. This is a show that doesn't shy away from showing the devastating effect the loss of a loved one can have on a family and can be brutally honest in its portrayal of grief.

AMC's remake relocates the action from the damp city of Copenhagen to the equally damp city of Seattle (actually the immensely damp city of Vancouver). The basic premise remains the same as the original; one murder case, told across an entire season with each episode covering a single day of the investigation. The plot is divided into the same three distinct but connected strands; the police investigation into the murder, the family's struggle to cope with their devastating loss and the election campaign of a city councilman to be mayor.

Much like Syfy's retuning of Being Human, which had the misfortune to premiere at the same time as the original was airing its blistering third season, The Killing suffers from some unfortunate timing. The Danish series had only just finished its run here in the UK and was still very fresh in my mind when I sat down to watch the remake. At first I was going to give it a miss, figuring that no matter how good it turned out to be The Killing would never be able to reach the same quality as Forbrydelsen. But curiosity eventually got the better of me.

The first time I watched this pilot I didn’t enjoy it. Not because I thought it was bad. Like all AMC shows The Killing is exceptional well made and brilliantly acted by a cast made up of people I like. I’m certain that, if, like a lot of viewers, I’d come to it with zero knowledge of the original I would’ve loved it straight away. But I didn’t, so I couldn’t. So far The Killing is offering me nothing I haven't seen before and done better with more interesting accents and character names that you could have fun trying to pronounce properly. The pilot is virtually a shot for shot, word for word remake. Even the music is exactly the same, which is no surprise since composer Frans Bak also did the music for the Danish series.

So why should a devoted jumper fanatic like me bother sticking with The Killing?

Well, first of all there is that great cast (more on them further down). Secondly, the producers of this version have stated quite vocally that they plan to use the original as a starting point and that the identity of the killer and the motivation for the murder will be different. I hope that's true because I'm not looking to watch the exact same show again only in a different language. And thirdly, the jumpers. I know I've said this before but jumpers really are just as cool as bowties. And fezzes. And Stetsons. And bunk beds.

Who's Who

Rosie Larsen – The Victim

The murdered girl. Despite what AMC's marketing department might think its unlikely that Rosie is gonna be a Laura Palmer for the 21st century. So far we know very little about Rosie Larsen. She's something of an enigma wrapped in a puzzle, trapped in the boot of a car at the bottom of a lake.

Sarah Linden – The Detective

The driving force of the series is Mireille Enos as Det. Sarah Linden. She’s the stoic type who solemnly stares into the middle distance a lot, no doubt haunted by all the horrible things she’s seen while on the job. Or its constipation. I have a little trouble telling which is which. I want to like Linden but I feel like I’d be betraying Sofie Gråbøl if I did. It’s like Tennant/Smith all over again except I’m not instantly falling in love with Enos the same way I did with Matt Smith.

Stephen Holder – The Detective's Partner/Replacement

I might be frosty towards Linden but I’m having no such problem with her partner/replacement, the remarkably tactless Stephen Holder, brilliantly played by Joel Kinnerman. Holder is a former undercover cop with a cockish attitude and tendency to treat everyone he meets like they’re a suspect. In the grand tradition of police dramas Linden and Holder a mismatched pair but thanks to the performance of the actors they don’t easily slip into buddy cop clichés.

Stanley and Mitch Larsen – The Victim's Parents

Rosie’s parents. They are as much victims of this crime as she is. Their entire world has been shattered by her murder. Although it can be uncomfortable to watch at times, this is the series' strongest storyline. Much of this is thanks to the exceptional performances of Michelle Forbes and Brent Sexton as Mitch and Stanley. What can I say about Michelle Forbes that hasn’t been said before? The woman is just incredible. She’s been one of my favourite actresses since her Next Gen days and this is some of the best work she’s ever done.

Darren Richmond – A Professional Dullard

Richmond is a handsome and idealistic city councilman and mayoral candidate. Despite Billy Campbell’s best efforts, Richmond is duller than an episode of Boardwalk Empire with all the interesting bits (basically, all the violence and nudity) edited out. But at least he's not as repulsive as Jamie and Gwen, his campaign staff. Jamie, in particular, is a rather loathsome little gerbil. He was practically foaming at the mouth about exploiting Rosie’s disappearance for political gain. Well congratulations, Jamie, you got your wish. The kid turned up dead and in one of your campaign cars. So, now what are you going to do?

Notes and Quotes

--Jumperwatch: Like her Danish counterpart Sarah Linden has a fondness for the type of distinctive knitwear you only wear at Christmas because it was a gift and you don't want to offend Auntie Sheila. What makes this all so cool is that Linden, like Lund, doesn't seem to give a damn how unfashionable she is. Her current choice is okay but I can’t see anyone wanting to pay hundreds of dollars for it. Not like this beauty.

--Mireille Enos was actually pregnant at the time this pilot was shot.

--I do like the title sequence. Good title sequences are rare these days.

--It is one of the fundamental universal truths that man is incapable of fixing anything with tape (unless he’s MacGyver, who could fix a nuclear reactor with tape).

--Due South and BSG fans will no doubt recognize Callum Keith Rennie as Linden’s fiancé while Gary Caulk (Lt. Oaks) has been in loads of things, most notably The Dead Zone and SG-1.

--Caprica fans will no doubt recognize Jasper’s house as same one that was used for the Greystone’s home.

Richmond: “I’ll not exploit a family’s tragedy for a soundbite.”

Holder: “Nice weather, ocean, beaches, hate that shit.”

Linden: “You think homicide’s going to be any different?”
Holder: “At least you got a bad guy.”
Linden: “Yeah, who’s that?”

Fraser: “My name Fraser, not Osama.”

Holder: “Guy lose his wallet while he was getting his knob polished?”

Jamie: “Election is in twenty-six days we don’t have time to be jerking off here.”
Gwen: “Well, not an image I want in my head.”

Holder: “You sure he stayed in last night?”
Mitch: “Yeah, I’m sure.”
Holder: “How?”
Mitch: “How do you think?”

Terry: “What’d the cops say?”
Mitch: “Nothing, they just asked me a load of bullshit as usual.”
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.


  1. Love the show so far but am feeling a bit weary. Jumperwatch keeps me going. Really love the selbu sweater you linked to. :)

    A Knitter

  2. Nice picture of Lund's magnificent costume. It reminds me of the stuff my mum used to knit, all done on thick needles. I didn't get bullied at all. No, really.

  3. Boy was I confused,



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