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[Blu-ray Review] AMC’s ‘The Killing: The Complete First Season’

When the The Killing premiered in its native homeland of Denmark in March 2007, the first series was split into two parts, with the second run of episodes set to air the following year. But the ratings were through the roof, which caused the network to run them almost six months early. With press like that, it’s easy to see why The Killing garnered stateside attention and was remade for AMC. It’s essentially a police procedural, with a strong emphasis on how the murder of 17-year-old Rosie Larsen (Katie Findlay) affects her family, her community (by way of a mayoral election), and the detectives trying to close her case. WARNING: SOME SPOILERS

The approach makes the drama seem more organic, giving it a slight edge over the multitude of other investigative shows currently on the air. Brent Sexton and Michelle Forbes are fantastic as the grieving parents trying to rebuild their lives and find peace by whatever means necessary, and the once and forever Rocketeer Billy Campbell gives a great turn as the politely suspicious Darren Richmond, who the case seems to revolve around in one way or the other. The Killing even manages to use a location and setup similar to Twin Peaks, minus the Lynchian tone.

And yet, despite its supporting performances and heavy lean on collateral damage of the emotional kind, The Killing has a huge fatal flaw: it wears out its welcome 5 episodes in. The show, while trying its best to be dark and different, pigeonholes itself by adhering to formula which has its lead investigators hot on a suspect one episode and ruling them out the next. After a few red herrings, the writers realized they were just spinning their wheels and decided to dedicate an ENTIRE EPISODE to Linden (Mireille Enos) looking for her runaway son so she could vomit up exposition about stuff that’s not even relevant to the plot – aside for bookend scenes, there’s no forward traction on the case. It’s also really disappointing that Linden and Holder (Joel Kinnaman) are so unlikable as the leads; they’ve both had hard lives and have a lot on their plates, but they come off as pricks and treat the people most important to them like they don’t even matter.

The Killing is an extremely straight-faced interpretation of Twin Peaks, minus the likable leads, character idiosyncrasies, and sense of humor and wonder that made Mark Frost and David Lynch’s creation an overnight water-cooler sensation. The community drama is there on a larger scale and the investigations are engaging enough; it’s just when it does the same song and dance several times in a season, you can’t really help but wonder what the show would’ve been like as a ten-episode arc without the fluff. The season ends with a cliffhanger, which isn’t exactly a weird thing to do, except that it potentially rules out yet another suspect, meaning that season two has a strong chance of being the same sort of meandering mess. If you keep something going, keep it engaging and not a chore to sit through.


The Killing is shot on 35mm, rather than the “digital” norm for modern shows, and has a noticeable layer of grain throughout. Fox’s 1080p transfer is stunning in spots, but the grain seems particular heavy during certain scenes, which prevents the detail from being as fine as it could be. Thank God Fox didn’t pul la Predator; I prefer actual grain over washed-out B.S. The color scheme of a dreary Seattle is captured wonderfully, with grays and greens making up much of the color palate. In the end, it looks only slightly better than it did on TV. The DTS-HD 5.1 lossless tracks are strong and give the background noises great emphasis, mostly during the investigation and bayside scenes. The score and dialogue seem to be balanced pretty well, with only a few instances of music overpowering spoken word.

Special Features

Commentary – Two commentary tracks are included with the set. Producer Veena Sud chats during the pilot episode about the challenges of adapting the show for American audiences and points out a few of the things they changed. During the extended finale, writer Nicole Yorkin and actress Mireille Enos give their take on the entire season, but are careful not to go into too much detail about what’s to come when the show picks back up.

An Autopsy Of The Killing (16:53) – Executive Producer Sud is at the center of this featurette, in which she talks about how she got the show off the ground. Other writers, producers and stars chime in, talking about character motivations and what they did to make the case seem as realistic as possible. Sud notes the “passion” fans have for the series and its conclusion, but I think what she really meant to say is “fiery, unbridled hatred.”

Deleted Scenes (13:21) – Some are short with no dialogue, and others don’t have the sound synched up properly, but NONE of them add anything. Actually, a good chunk of them seem like B-roll.

Gag Reel (4:53) – Can’t believe these still get included on releases…

Score: 2/5
Blu-ray: 2.5/5



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