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Customer Review

32 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very watchable, but very slow, 31 Jan. 2012
This review is from: The Killing - Series 1 [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
No need to explain this series: if you're reading this then you've probably seen the rave reviews and are wondering whether to buy the DVD.
Well, if you like a long drawn-out police procedural, heavy on characterisation, silences and subtleties, then you'll probably enjoy it: it's a good one to get you through some long winter nights when there's not much on tv. (But be warned: this is a very dark, angst-ridden and serious world, and the dour Scandinavian atmosphere does tend to leak from the screen, so for the sake of your mental wellbeing I'd recommend that you limit yourself to no more than two episodes per session).
Who'd have thought that a subtitled whodunnit from Denmark, starring a doggedly intense and often quite irritating young woman wearing an itchy-looking jumper, would have scored such a hit?
It's really well done: the acting, story, setting, and music are all excellent. The subtitles are easy to follow - it's not like The Wire, with everyone mumbling or talking at once. And it's certainly a welcome change from all those shiny, fast-paced US-tv detective series full of glamorous cops: this feels far more authentic.
But - and you could hear it coming - it's very s-l-o-w. Which is great, I like slow. But 20 hour-long episodes? It's not a difficult plot, after all, it's basically just one murder investigation, and there's only so much you can do to examine the repercussions for the police, the family, the friends, and the politicians, without getting a bit repetitive - just how many times must we see them all sitting round that kitchen table?
There are lots of little plot holes and unconvincing explanations too (surely CCTV footage is far too grainy to lip read from?), the serial killer theory just fizzles out, and no matter how hard they try to sex it up with flashbulbs going off and clamouring journalists, all that municipal town hall stuff just refuses to turn into Watergate.
For me, it started to really sag around episode 15, with yet another red herring disposed of, with some characters vanished without trace, with the politicians still plotting, the family still grieving, the rain still falling, and no new direction in sight. I started to feel a bit manipulated: it was all stretched so thinly that it was like watching a neverending soap.
And although all those Nordic faces were fascinating, no-one's expression seemed to change from episode to episode. Sarah Lund is a great character, but she was fast becoming a caricature of herself - give me Jane Tennison any day.
By the end the writers had painted themselves into a corner and there was only one person left (however unlikely) who could be the villain. (Although, if you do make it to the end, the last episode is an absolute corker, even if the final confrontation has been pinched from Seven [DVD] [1995]).
Probably three stars is a bit mean (I'd like to give it three and a half), but that's the thing about reading rave reviews before you watch something, you're so often disappointed. I don't think a DVD release will do this series any favours - watching the episodes back to back, rather than waiting for a weekly instalment, makes the faults stand out a lot more.
Is it unfair to suggest that a lot of people have gone overboard for this because there hasn't been a really good crime series like Prime Suspect or Cracker on UK tv for a very long time, and they're feeling a little bit pleased with themselves for discovering and enjoying 20 episodes of a subtitled Danish tv programme?
But don't let me put you off, it really is very good. I just didn't think it quite lived up to its reputation for being something unique and rather special.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 May 2012 13:33:16 BDT
P. G. Croft says:
It's not 'UNFAIR to suggest people have gone overboard' with their praise, I think it's UNREALISTIC for you to claim such an explanation for it's popularity. Surely it is more likely that you --and a very few others--simply cannot connect with the overwhelming majority view, ( public and professional critics world-wide) expressed so forcibly and enthusiastically. With our 24-7 rolling news now well established, the whole story is meant to unfold likewise, like a live report to the viewer, via the media, and on a daily basis, this adds to the realism. I found it more realistic and therefore beleivable. Most murders are not sewn-up in a few hours--unless you were fed on a diet of 70's US comic detective series, where the hero performs his tricks from a wheelchair, is blind, or carries 25 stone of extra weight around with him.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 May 2012 15:50:09 BDT
Bookwoman says:
Thanks for getting me thinking: I know the wheelchair one - Raymond Burr as Ironside. But the fat one - surely not Cracker? I wouldn't say Robbie Coltrane is 25 stone overweight, and it was a 90s UK tv series anyway. But the blind one? You'll have to remind me.
As I'm presently working my way through all 5 series of The Wire for the third time, I don't always want things to be sewn up in a few hours either.
I'll just re-direct you to my final sentence: I think it's very good, just not quite as good as you obviously do!

In reply to an earlier post on 9 May 2012 17:00:25 BDT
P. G. Croft says:
Fair enough, your entitled to express your opinion of course, but if I was so out of step with such a overwhelming wave of unified praise, I'd be reluctant to state dissent. That might say more about my own lack of self assurance though. As for my jokey 70's comparison, I can't think of the blind guys character name now ( I never watched him) I think he was on a more obscure channel. But the fat man was called 'Frank Cannon', who miraculously was able to catch up with, and arrest, young fit crooks every week with the ade of some nifty editting. All those series--which of course, more noteably--we would list Kojac, Starsky & Hutch, & Cagney & Lacey, would end with the main charactor explaining the whole plot to his side kick---so that we could earwig the whole thing too---like we needed it. I think Raymond Burr gets the golden mobility scooter award for loonacy----although--a BLIND person ?? What were they thinking of ?---Enjoy what you do.

Posted on 18 Nov 2012 18:30:42 GMT
"Sally Mc" says:
very usefull..heard so much about this series, have considered buying the first set...
But NO , apart from not enjoying subtitles overly..... Think I will watch series 3,on the box week by week,
and decide afterwards, if I can cope with a full original series... Many thanks.... I now have time to ponder longer...

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Apr 2013 18:26:08 BDT
Cicero says:
I agree. Am only on episode 2, and am already wondering how they are going to fill the others. (And I adored "Heimat").

Also adore"The Wire". Now that's storytelling on a Tolstoyan/Dickensian scale.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Nov 2013 13:31:49 GMT
S. Haddow says:
Brilliant review - thanks. I've decided not to watch this. I find the three star reviews the most revealing often, while the five star reviewers often tend to say the same things over and over.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Nov 2013 16:59:08 GMT
P. G. Croft says:
Is it just a simple case, that 5 stars ( which is the majority view rating)--is the TRUE value of this, with it's WORLD WIDE, award winning, avalanche-of-praiseworthy critical acclaim--AND trend-setting style, speaks for itself ? P G Croft UK.
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