Posted by: Paul | March 2, 2011

The Killing

I had initially avoided BBC4’s Danish thriller import The Killing on the grounds that it was ‘another thing to watch’. I think we’re borderline on the amount of TV we’re watching being healthy right now, but when there’s so much quality which you’ve already effectively paid for in your license fee, why not lap it up? It’s cheap entertainment in tight economic times, after all.

Anyway, with several other series either concluding, or concluding that they’re perhaps not worth continuing with (I’m looking at you, Outcasts), I thought it was probably worth a go. Alison said she wasn’t going to bother, and it could thus become what I watch while doing the ironing for the next several weeks (the ironing has become, umm, ironically, something to look forward to).

However, after watching the first episode I decided it was something Ali simply couldn’t miss. A fan of the murder mystery anyway, this is exactly her sort of thing, and a superlative example of the genre. But to lump it in as just a genre piece is doing the show a great disservice. Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s the new ‘The Wire‘.

Well, sort of. In actual fact, it’s really the new Spiral, which was the French Wire. And with The Killing being a police procedural taking place over a clearly defined time frame (20 days), it also bears a close resemblance to the BBC’s own Five Days. So call it Twenty Days of Killing the Wire Spiral.

Enough with the lazy comparisons. The Killing is brilliant in it’s own way. What really drove me to think I couldn’t ignore it was a Guardian Guide quote which percolated away in the back of my mind for several weeks – “Everyone in The Killing is so suspicious, you start to worry that YOU did it.” It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

It’s the multi-stranded story of the murder of a young girl, daughter of a local businessman. On her last day before leaving for a new life with her Swedish beau, CID Detective Sarah Lund (Sofie Grabol) visits the scene of some bloody clothes abandoned in marshland outside Copenhagen. So emerges the first thread, and she tugs at it as if it were a loose strand of wool from her trademark sweater and the slow unraveling leads the first episode to end with a car pulled out of a nearby waterway and the discovery of the missing girl’s body. Unlike similar police shows, you witness events unfold from multiple perspectives – so far the girl’s parents, schoolfriends, and a local mayoral candidate linked to the discovery of the car. Intrigue runs through the show like a dirty canal full of shopping trolleys.

I can’t say much more without giving things away and spoiling the story, but I heartily recommend you check it out for yourself. It airs on Saturday nights on BBC4 but the Beeb, perhaps attempting to atone for the cancellation of Zen (and now also Whites), have put all the episodes up on the iPlayer for a month in order to let people catch up as the buzz spreads. Knock yourself out – you’ll be glad you did.



  1. We haven’t got it here yet. I’m Swedish but I live in Canada. Every now and then we do get some shows from Europe. Most of them are British. ‘The Wire’ led me to think of a really good one from the UK … the title escapes me now but it was something about blood and wire. With Robson Greene, which is an actor I do appreciate.

    • Thanks for reading, Kattsby! It’s ‘Wire In The Blood’ you’re thinking of, and certainly had its moments. ‘The Killing’ is really something special, if it doesn’t make it onto TV in Canada then it would be worth seeking out on DVD, it’s due out here on April 4th.

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