'The Killing' Series Premiere Review & Discussion

AMC's 'The Killing' puts a dramatic twist on the police procedural. Is this show the next 'Mad Men' or another forgettable murder mystery? Read our review to find out.

The Killing AMC TV series premiere reviews discussion

AMC has put its own unique stamp on television by successfully marrying drama to genre TV. The results have been fantastic shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, and even Rubicon was a solid entry (may it rest in peace).

AMC's new show The Killing - an American import of the Danish series Forbydeisen ("Crime") - attempts to put a dramatic twist on the standard crime procedural formula, and the result is a show that shows promise of long-term gains that will unfold at a slow-burn pace.

For those who don't know, here's a quick synopsis of what the show is about:

The Killing is a crime procedural presented in a unique format. Each episode will focus on one set of principal characters associated with the murder of teenager Rosie Larsen – including the detectives investigating the case (Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman); the dead girl’s parents (Brent Sexton and Michelle Forbes); and a City Council Present with political ambitions (Billy Campbell). As each of these groups get sucked deeper into the mystery of Rosie’s death, the effect of one brutal slaying will reach farther and have greater impact than anyone ever expected.

If you haven't seen the show yet, take a look at this 4-minute preview that introduces you to the main cast of characters and the grisly crime that brings them all together:





The pilot episode of The Killing is intriguing, if not thrilling. It quickly becomes apparent that this show isn't going to be a plot-point-to-plot-point thrill ride, but rather a slower and deeper journey where characters are the focus, rather than the "whodunit?" mystery. These debut episodes do a good job of baiting the hook; they introduce the characters effectively and give us little, tiny, peeks into the depth and complexity these characters will ultimately display.

The show opens by introducing us to Seattle police detective Sarah Linden (Big Love's Mireille Enos). Linden is that a archetypal cop with the uncanny radar for police work -  to the point that the opening of the show (Linden on her gray morning woodland jog, juxtaposed to the titular act of violence) suggests that her sensitivities are so strong, she can almost sense death's presence when it's close.

That intimacy with the darker side of life could be one reason that Linden is leaving Seattle and moving her young son to California, in order to be with the new man in her life. Of course, in typical fashion, Linden gets pulled back in just as she's about to step out the door. Thankfully, the cliches pretty much end there.

Street-smart narco cop Stephen Holder (Snabba Cash star Joel Kinnaman) is stepping in to replace Linden when the odd pair get called out to investigate a possible crime scene in the woods, where some kids have discovered a bloody sweater. The other cops on the scene (including Holder) think there's no crime to investigate - but Linden has that feeling in her gut.  After pushing the issue, the cops stumble upon a clue - an ATM card with the name "Stan Larsen" on it.

The name belongs to happy working-class couple Stan and Mitch Larsen (Justified's Brent Sexton and True Blood's Michelle Forbes, respectively). The Larsens live in nice little neighborhood row house with their brood of kids - including their teenage daughter, Rosie. Upon talking to the Larsens, Linden's fears grow: Rosie hasn't been home all weekend, and her story about staying at a friend's house turns out to be a lie. In actuality, nobody has seen the young girl in days.

The cops' next logical step is to interview students at Rosie's school. The missing persons emergency interrupts a debate by two local politicians which was being held at the school. One of those politicians is City Council president Darren Richmond, a young and ambitious candidate hoping to become mayor.

After kindly conceding his debate appearance to the needs of the police, Richmond's aid sees a golden opportunity: Richmond can use the tragic death of his wife years earlier, combined with this recent disappearance of a local girl, as the perfect "hard line against crime" political capital. But Richmond is a man of staunch principle and will do no such thing...for now, at least.

Our Review of the Premiere...

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