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The Killing: The Complete First Season (2011)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/13/2012

All Ratings out of





Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/19/2012

There are basically two types of television shows -- those whose episodes contain individual stories which are completed within the confines of one episode and those whose storylines are spread across a number of episodes, if not an entire season. (And yes, there are shows which combine both of these styles.) Is one better than the other? No, not really. The beauty of the shows which encapsulate their stories is that you can jump in at any time and it usually doesn't matter if you miss a show. On the other hand, the shows with story arcs can create rich tapestries with a lot of detail and we often can't wait for the next show to see what happens. The Killing certainly falls into the story arc category as it presents an interesting premise. The 13-episode series purports to bring us a storyline which spans one week in the character's lives. Surprisingly, this gives the series both too much and too little time to tell its story.

It's Detective Sarah Linden's (Mireille Enos) last day working homicide for the Seattle Police Department, as she is about to leave for Sonoma, California, along with her son, Jack (Liam James). There, she will start a new life with her fiance, Rick (Callum Keith Rennie). However, that morning, two significant things happen. One, Linden is introduced to Detective Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman), the former vice squad officer who will be taking her place, and two, a call comes in that a girl has gone missing. Linden protests, but she's told that as she's on the clock, she has to work. Linden and Holder, check the scene, finding only scant clues, and Linden immediately realizes that she doesn't like how Holder works. They discover a car submerged in a pond, and the body of teenager Rosie Larsen (Katie Findlay) in the trunk. They inform Rosie's parents, Stan (Brent Sexton) and Mitch (Michelle Forbes), who are devastated. Linden and Holder learn that the car is registered to the campaign of City Councilman Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell), who is running for Mayor. Linden is now stuck with this case and can't leave for California until it is closed. As she and Holder begin their investigation, we watch Richmond attempt to rescue his campaign from this scandal, as the Larsen's deal with the pain of losing their daughter.

The Killing is based on a Danish TV series called Forbrydelsen, but it owes a lot more to a certain American TV series. If you are of a certain age, the Washington state setting and the "Who Killed Rosie Larsen?" tagline will be very reminiscent of Twin Peaks. I don't know if those connections were intentional, but those and a revelation about Rosie's activities which come later in the season, seem like far more than coincidences. However, once you get beyond those similarities, The Killing is much closer to CSI and Homicide than David Lynch.

The shows works fairly well as procedural and a drama. As noted above, the story takes place over seven days and as spread out across thirteen episodes, the show is able to take its time and examine things in detail. The storyline goes back and forth between Linden and Holder's investigation, the Larsen's familial upheaval, and Richmond's campaign. We watch as clues are unearthed, suspects are named, and leads followed. These events affect everyone involved and the individual personalities of the characters come out as the story progresses.

The Killing contains several stories and plotlines, but each is placed under a microscope and this allows the viewer to see the pros and cons of the show. At the outset, I found the Holder character to be annoying, with his bravado and street lingo. However, as the show progressed, I began to find him fascinating. Holder is simply a product of a damaged past and his years in vice, and despite this, he's able to make progress at times. I also liked how Richmond struggled to maintain integrity, no matter what was taking place around him. The stories provided some nice twists, and there were certainly a few things which I didn't see coming. On the negative side, there were some times when it felt as if the makers of the show didn't expect for it to last for thirteen episodes and things felt dragged out. There's an episodes which steers away from the investigation to focus on Linden and her son and this really kills the series' momentum. There are definitely times when the show puts the spotlight on one of the storylines for too long and we can't wait for it to shift gears.

Of course, the show's biggest flaw became its most notorious -- the mystery of Rosie's murder is not solved. As far as I can tell, AMC never promised to wrap things up per se, but a resolution was certainly implied and fans of the show and critics were not happy. I knew this going in (as you do now), so it wasn't as devastating for me. Still, I'm not sure how much longer the show can stretch things out. The Killing has its moments and it contains some very good acting, but it can only tease us for so long.

The Killing: The Complete First Season contains more rain than a tsunami documentary on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The three-disc set contains all thirteen episodes from the show's first season. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is incredibly grainy at times. I honestly couldn't tell if this was a style choice, a result of the film used, or a transfer defect. The bottom-line is that it's very noticeable and very distracting at times. The colors are good for the most part, but they are washed out in some scenes. The image is also slightly soft at times. Having not seen the show on TV, I can't say how it compares, but for a Blu-ray release, the visuals are a disappointment. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The nearly constant rain in the show provides a barrage of surround sound effects. The track provides good stereo effects which are nicely detailed. I didn't notice much in the way of subwoofer effects.

The Killing: The Complete First Season contains a few extras. Disc 1 offers an AUDIO COMMENTARY for "The Killing (Pilot)" from Executive Producer/Writer Veena Sud. The remainder of the extras are found on Disc 3. The episode "Orpheus Descending" contains an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Mireille Enos and Nicole Yorkin. "An Autopsy of The Killing" (17 minutes) is a making-of featurette which contains comments from the creative team and the cast. They talk about how the project came about and the casting. (They mention the Danish version, but I wish that we could've gotten more details about it.) The discussion then turns to the stories and the themes of the show. The Disc contains twenty-three (?!) DELETED SCENES which run about 13 minutes.  Most of these are quite brief, with some lasting only seconds, and most are simply extra footage from the beginning or ending of an existing scene. We do get three scenes which could play as extended endings, so these are cool. The final extra is a 5-minute GAG REEL.

Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long