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The Killing: The Complete First Season(TV) (2011)
Following a shocking murder, the lives of the police, suspects and victim's family are intricately woven together in this "spellbinding" (TV Guide) series starring Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman.
For more about The Killing: The Complete First Season and the The Killing: The Complete First Season Blu-ray release, see the The Killing: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on March 13, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Mireille Enos, Billy Campbell, Joel Kinnaman, Michelle Forbes, Brent Sexton, Eric Ladin
» See full cast & crew
The Killing: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
Who killed Rosie Larsen? I still don't know, but that's okay.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, March 13, 2012
If you're a fan and you've already seen The Killing: The Complete Season One during its broadcast on AMC, you'll probably want to go ahead and skip down to the Video/Audio section to see how the show fares on Blu-ray. This review is for you newcomers, who may be wondering if the series is worth your time. Let me start by saying that yes, I think it is, with one proviso: that you prefer shows with multiple-season narrative arcs--think LOST or The Wire or Boardwalk Empire--over episodic, mystery-of-the-week fare like CSI or Bones. This one requires patience of its viewers, but it rewards them with a well-written murder mystery-slash-character study that turns a lot of serialized TV tropes on their heads.
The Killing is a loose Americanization of the popular Danish series Forbrydelsen, resetting the drama in rain- spattered wintertime Seattle. The show capitalizes on the city's maritime, port-on-the-edge-of-the-world vibe--the persistent gray, the distant squawk of seagulls, the lush woods and bleak waterfronts--and though the series is actually shot in Vancouver, B.C., only Seattleites will be able to tell the difference. (I'm a Seattle dweller, and I like to think of Vancouver as our cooler big brother.) As far as large cities go, Seattle is a fairly isolated place, and this is a perfect mirror for the characters, who are all isolated in their own ways.
The pilot opens with lone wolf homicide detective Sarah Lindin (Big Love's Mireille Enos) boxing up her belongings and preparing to move to sunny Sonoma, California with her fiancé Rick (Callum Keith Rennie) and resentful tween-aged son, Jack (Liam James). On Lindin's last day on the job, her hard-ass boss sends her and her replacement--a scruffy looking ex-undercover narc named Holder (Joel Kinnaman)--to investigate a possible murder scene. In the grand tradition of cop dramas, the two definitely make for an odd couple, their personalities playing off of one another to give the show a friction-y élan. Lindin is the quiet, reserved one, wearing heavy wool sweaters and frequently squinting off into the distance--you can practically see her mental machinery at work--while the rookie Holder is brash and impetuous and big-mouthed, always willing to make his opinion known. They've both got baggage and issues that I'll leave unspoiled, since the mystery of their respective personalities is just as big of a question over the course of season one as the identity of whoever killed the seventeen-year-old girl they find drowned in the trunk of a car submerged in a lake on the back side of Discovery Park.
The girl is Rosie Larsen, the kind of bright, ambitious high schooler who doesn't just turn up dead under normal circumstances, and Linden feels compelled to stick around and solve the crime, much to her fiancé's mounting annoyance. Rosie's blue-collar parents--beefy moving company owner Stan (Brent Sexton) and his witchy-looking wife, Mitch (Michelle Forbes)--are understandably crushed, and one of the things the show does so well is take us through the stages of their grief over the thirteen days that constitute season one, from denial to sad acceptance. In between, there are significant stops for rage and vigilante justice, especially with Stan, who has a dodgy history with the mob.
The list of initial potential suspects is long, but not inexhaustible. There's the janitor at Rosie's high school, who likes to spy on kids partying in the boiler room, and English teacher Bennett Ahmed (Brandon Jay McLaren), who has a known predilection for high school-aged girls. Half-witted family friend Belko Royce (Brendan Sexton III) is conspicuously obsessed with the three--now two--Larsen kids, there are hints that Rosie's aunt Terry (Jamie Ann Allman) was perhaps a bad influence, and the dead girl's emo ex-boyfriend Jasper (Richard Harmon) clearly knows more than he's letting on. But the most salient clue comes when it's discovered that the car Rosie was found in belongs to the campaign of Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell), a candidate for mayor running on a platform of personal integrity. That right there should give you a big clue that Richmond has some skeletons in his closet, but this is far from an open and shut case. The gang over at CSI: Miami would find the murderer in under an hour, but that's not how the writers of The Killing roll. This is a show that takes its time, attempting to give a more realistic--if still highly dramatized--portrayal of how a homicide investigation gathers evidence, tracking down leads, pressing the suspects, and putting the pieces together.
I had mixed thoughts about The Killing when it aired between April and June of last year. My knee-jerk initial reaction--before I had even seen the pilot--was to roll my eyes and dismiss it outright, especially after reading online chatter about how the new show was going to shamelessly rip off Twin Peaks, a series that's near and dear to this critic's stony little heart. And yes, there are indeed similarities. Both involve the murder of a teenaged good girl who harbored dark secrets. Both are set in the dreary, pine-covered Pacific Northwest. And both are atypical police procedurals that eschew the usual watch-us-solve-a-crime-in-forty-five-minutes episodic structure in favor of an ongoing, slowly unraveled mystery. But that's where the comparisons end. There's none of Twin Peaks' kooky small-town comedy here, no metaphysical trips into the "Red Room," no dancing, backwards-talking midgets. The Killing goes for strict realism in all three of its main story lines--the day-to-day details of the murder case, the grieving process of a family suddenly deprived of a child, and the back-room dealings of a mayoral candidate who may or may not be involved in the girl's death. I list these three elements in order of interestingness; Linden and Holder's homicide investigation is gripping stuff--it helps that the actors are great and their characters are dimensionally written--and the portrait of a family in mourning is genuinely moving. The political stuff, though, seems a bit hammy and underwritten.
By mid-season I was hooked, though I still had my hang-ups. The cliffhanger episode endings were mildly aggravating. The red herrings were a bit too tedious and occasionally implausible. The weeding-out of potential suspects was beginning to feel more like work than entertainment. But here's the thing; rewatching season one on Blu-ray has been a completely different experience, one that's given me a newfound respect for the series' writers. The Killing is another prime example of a show, like The Wire, that just plain works better on home video, where you can devour it in larger chunks. With no week-long waits between episodes, the show is much more cohesive and immediately satisfying, even if we still have to wait until season two to I.D. the killer. That's no spoiler, by the way. Some viewers--myself included--were understandably disappointed when the season finale passed with no resolution to the mystery, but showrunner Veena Sud never promised a tidy conclusion. It's worth knowing this up front so you can see season one as the first part of a larger whole, and also get prepped for season two, which has its 2-hour premiere on April 1st. I'm there.
The Killing: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
AMC has farmed out Blu-ray duties to 20th Century Fox, who have given each of The Killing's thirteen episodes a satisfying-but-shy-of- spectacular 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer, spreading them out over three discs. While a lot of shows are moving to an all-digital workflow, The Killing is shot natively on 35mm and boasts a noticeable--sometimes extremely noticeable--layer of filmic grain. Seattle's gray skies are abuzz with it. It appears like snowy static over out-of-focus areas of the frame and sometimes even visibly mottles skin textures. The film stock used is chunky even in daylight scenes, and the grain spikes considerably at night, along with what looks like a fair degree of compression noise. There are a handful of scenes where the level of grain/noise seems to fluctuate wildly even within a single shot. While this can be somewhat distracting when it happens--quite literally, it would take me out of the story and make me wonder what what was causing it--it thankfully doesn't happen often enough to be a persistent picture quality concern. For the most part, clarity is decent--especially in closeups--but the heaviness of the grain structure keeps the image from resolving the finest possible details. And there's not much that can be done about that. DNR would only smear out remaining texture, and edge enhancement would give the picture a harsh, digitalized look. Props to Fox for steering away from those sorts of post- production tactics. On the plus side, I do love the film's moody cinematography, which keeps colors muted for the most part--greens are an exception--while playing up Seattle's overcast climate. Black levels occasionally infringe on shadow detail, but never drastically so, and contrast is strong. Overall, this is a slight bump up from 1080i broadcast quality, but it's not quite among the best-looking TV shows on Blu-ray.
The Killing: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Each episode of the show features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, and I have no qualms here other than the observation that the rear channels really aren't utilized as fully as they could've been. In some respects, the sound effect design is great--distant foghorns, the squawk of seagulls, pouring rain, car tires moving across wet pavement--but there are times where the sense of immersion could've probably been realized more completely. The surround speakers only occasionally build up a fully convincing multi-directional soundscape, and most of the effects stay rooted up front. Then again, this is a TV series and not a cinematic experience, so perhaps I should temper my expectations. When the rear channels are used, they're used well, especially when they're broadcasting the show's very Twin Peaks-y score of deep, ominous synth pads. The music sounds quite nice when cranked to a decent volume. Most importantly, dialogue is always clearly recorded, nicely balanced, and easily understood. The discs include optional English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles, which appear in large white lettering.
The Killing: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Killing: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I remember feeling conflicted about The Killing while watching it during its original TV broadcast. I liked the characters and the story and the pervasively dreary mood the show's writers established, but I was less than enthused with some of the lame cliffhangers and other necessary evils of serialized weekly television. I'm happy to report, however, that the series seems to work a lot better when you can watch a lot of it at once. I'd suggest picking up the 3-disc Blu-ray set, settling in for a weekend-long marathon--a disc a night?--and getting all caught up for the premiere of season two. Recommended!
The Killing: Other Seasons
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The Killing: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Killing: The Complete First Season Blu-ray - January 11, 2012
Next March, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will bring The Killing: The Complete First Season to Blu-ray. A remake of the popular Danish television program Forbrydelsen, this complex procedural follows the political and social unrest that erupts in Seattle ...
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