In Defense of The Killing

1 04 2012

Unless you are choosing to live off the grid, you all know that tonight is the Season Two premier of The Killing on AMC.

I for one am super excited. Like, planning a special meal, a nice bottle of red wine, and plan to completely block out the world to fully devote my two hours to the new episode–that kind of excited. (Plus, tonight is also Game of Thrones premier, so it’s practically Christmas for the TV dork in me.)

It seems that The Killing has been getting nothing but hate lately. Everyone was so annoyed that they didn’t solve the murder of Rosie Larson in Season One. How could they?!! I demand more clear-cut endings! Too much rain!!! While I understand the uproar, a lot of it sounded fairly whiny to me. I realize this may be an unpopular opinion, oh well, there are plenty of other blogs to read.

Here’s the thing, I enjoyed the hell out of the first season. I thought the pilot alone was fan-freaking-tastic. Great pacing, great character reveals, great world. As someone who always says that secrets are where drama comes from, the show did that extremely well. Red herring after red herring. Sure, maybe we felt a little jerked around come episodes 7,8 when we realized we were maybe on another tangential path. But, did I rush to condemn the show into the pit of TV failures alongside Cavemen and Viva Laughlin? No, because even at its most meandering and rain-soaked story moments, The Killing is still better than 95% of TV out there.

When people felt like their time was wasted by episodes that didn’t catch the killer of Rosie Larson…think of this: The Bachelor and Dancing with the Stars, and American Idol are two-hour shows. Now, those are really two hours you will never get back in your life. An hour wasted on The Killing…come on, really? Was it that painful? Did it make you miss an episode of Jersey Shore that you forgot to Tivo? Did you sacrifice your time that otherwise would have been spent feeding needy children?

And don’t forget. For all it’s Lynch-ian genius, Twin Peaks was not without its flaws, but I think it’s safe to say most of the TV appreciating society holds that show in high esteem.

Now I do agree with the haters when fans were pissed at the end of the season, and Veena Sud brushed them off. In this day of Twitter, it’s too important for showrunners to engage with their audience/fans in a positive and productive way. Fans can’t be brushed off, and their feelings should absolutely be considered. I totally agree that creating a trust with your audience is HUGE, and we felt like our trust was betrayed. Fair.

BUT, I ask you. If we somehow knew we wouldn’t catch the killer by the end of Season One…if we couldn’t blame marketing for planting the idea in our heads that we would see a killer in handcuffs by the end of the finale…would we have been so pissed?And also, would that ending have been anti-climactic to some degree? We catch the killer, great, now what?

By comparison, Pretty Little Liars, only now at the end of Season Two identified the evil “A”, an unknown tormenting our sweet teenage girls with their own dirty secrets. Their fans managed to not abandon ship even though the whole thrust of the series was about discovering the true identity of “A”. Their writers also managed not to completely alienate their fan base with condescending tweets, while also keeping the pace to match a teenager’s attention span. Is that what we wanted The Killing to do? My guess is, no.

So, our expectations were messed with, and that’s a crappy feeling. BUT, in some shows that’s also an awesome feeling. Not seeing something coming, that’s good! That’s part of the experience. (Something Game of Thrones I would argue does well for those of us who didn’t donate months reading the books.)

And yes, Season One was not without its flaws. Maybe too much rain. Over time I wanted more from Detective Linden and found her to become a little one note. But, again, none of the Season One issues are causing me to ban the show going forward. I came back to Walking Dead this season, and as far as I’m concerned, the previous season had plenty more egregious flaws.

And really…do we all go nuts if Mad Men has a somewhat unsatisfying episode? Did we all turn on Matt Weiner and Lionsgate for taking the show off the air for 18 months. Now, I know Mad Men is the holy grail of TV, blah, blah, but it too has slow and meandering episodes that don’t always pan out into perfect character/story reveals. (I know, clutch pearls, how dare I say such blasphemy.) Yet, with Mad Men we call it genius. And with The Killing we are ready to get our pitchforks and torches and walk the streets calling for Veena Sud’s head.

I’m a tremendous fan of AMC. Their programming is awesome, they are finding very smart talented people to work with, smart properties, and my guess is, the execs there are some of the smartest working in Hollywood.  I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Afterall, no network is perfect. They couldn’t help if some episodes were slower paced or had less satisfying reveals than other episodes. It happens. The first season of Walking Dead was definitely not without its flaws…sorry to harp on it, but seriously.

The critics are already giving the Season Two premier a thrashing. More of the same, they cry. Others wisely point out that they show expands to beyond Rosie Larson and digs deeper into our characters, Det. Linden, etc. That’s a good thing. A show that brings us in with Rosie Larson but throws us into a richer world of secrets and betrayal beyond one murder case is a fleshed out world. That’s a show, more than just a mini-series, I might argue. Desperate Housewives started out with a mysterious death, but that’s not what the show was about ultimately. And that’s not how you eek out season after season.

I don’t know. I for one will be watching tonight with open eyes and ears. Sure, the show might have a strike or two against it, but I’m still willing to give it a shot.  If I was dating The Killing, I’d stick with it. Sure, I’ve seen a few red flags, but I’m not ready to dump it yet. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I’m going to be watching.  Come 8 o’clock, what will the naysayers be doing? Watching Dancing with the Stars? I doubt it.


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5 responses

1 04 2012
Shannon

The Danish series didn’t reveal the murdered until episode 20 so everyone relax. Just like the Danes did.

1 04 2012
thetvgal

Exactly. This is an adaptation. Calm it down.

1 04 2012
Kati

Agree to disagree, but to be fair the lack of a reveal in the season finale was just the last straw for me, not the single reason for me getting upset. You liked the red herrings. I thought many of the fake-outs were blatant, manipulative, and made the cops look like morons. Despite my appreciation of the acting, I only kept watching because I thought I’d find out who did it by the end of the first season, and then I could be rid of the show forever (unless the ending was so good that it redeemed all the stuff I disliked about the show). And when they didn’t reveal the killer, especially when no second season was ever guaranteed, I just went, “Fuck this. What a waste.” Now if you liked the journey, clearly you wouldn’t feel that way, but I think all the “whiners” were simply in my camp on this one.

3 04 2012
christian1013

Okay…I spent twenty-four years in Washington State,, about an hours drive up the 5, was Seattle. THEY GOT THE RAIN ASPECT RIGHT! The whole first season spanned what, ten days I think? It can rain for weeks up there. A common question regarding the fourth of July is if it’s going to rain or not (now, here in SoCal, the question is how hot is it going to be.)

As far as everything else, I really liked the show. I was kind of hoping for a weird supernatural twist( can you imagine the uproar about that?) Holder is such an awesomely flawed detective and Linden plays it cool. Great show.

For some reason I’m also rather fond of the opening credits. Possibly because I can’t afford a plane ticket home.

10 04 2012
chaski

You need to set higher standards for what you consider good tv or the producers will continue to make garbage. Don’t settle for shows like The Killing. Aren’t you outraged at being jerked aroun? The audience’s patience is tested at every arbitrary plot twist and parade of red herrings. The show has pretensions of being Arty, intelligent, layered, “dark,” and complex. Bullshit. It’s shallow, DUMB, s-l-o-w, highly manipulative, with despicable characters–can’t stomach seeing the Larsons any more!–and horrendous camera work. The last straw is the god-awful lack of lighting making visibility zero–the ultimate snub of its audience. Darkness does not a “dark” drama make (and Seattle has nada to do with the darkness I’m referring to). If it’s an attempt to follow the Danish Dogme film movement in which only natural light is used, it’s a collosal and heavy-handed failure. Whoever made the decision to go dark with the photography should be fired. I wouldn’t be surprised if the show loses half its audience after the last episode (2nd of season 2) just cuz we couldn’t see a damned thing. By this point, who cares who killed Rosie.What a royal waste of time! Good-bye and good riddance. Give us the original version with sub-titles.

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