The Killing: Season One Blu-ray review
Generally when I’m asked about the best series on television, I think about things that are on “premium” or subscription channels before I think of anything else. With very few exceptions, the content that is presented on regular cable stations just doesn’t interest me. When I initially heard about THE KILLING: SEASON ONE from AMC, I thought that it sounded interesting but that it was probably just going to be another police procedural and that it probably wouldn’t break any new ground. I’m please to say that I was wrong in this assumption. THE KILLING is one of the finest police and character dramas on television today; the kind of program that makes you wonder why more intelligent television isn’t the norm.
THE KILLING is the story of the murder of a young girl named Rosie Larsen, but it is also the story of how her murder changes the Seattle community around her, from her parents to the detectives working the case to the politicians involved in the Seattle Mayoral campaign. When we join Detective Sarah Linden (the phenomenal Mireille Enos from BIG LOVE), she’s getting ready for her last day at work before she and her son move to Sonoma, California, to live with her fiancé. Sarah is a cop driven with an intelligence and intensity that makes her invaluable to the police force… but this steadfast determination is a liability in her personal life. There are allusions to her almost losing her teenage son, Jack, due to her obsession over a similar case in the recent past.
Linden is forced to work with her ‘replacement’, a former undercover narcotics officer named Stephen Holder. Holder (played by Swedish newcomer Joel Kinnaman) moves and speaks with a fluidity and certainty that surely were an asset working undercover, but that may hamper his ability to work with grieving victims. Due to his relative naiveté in homicide, however, their Lieutenant demands the case stay with Linden for a few more days, postponing her move. The growing partner relationship between these two opposites is one of the great and interesting relationships on television today.
In addition to these great performances, AMC and executive producer/creator Veena Sud (COLD CASE) did a great job casting the rest of the show. The core of the cast is especially strong; in addition to Enos and Kinnaman, Rosie’s parents are screen vets Brent Sexton (JUSTIFIED, 2010) and Michelle Forbes (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, 2004 and TRUE BLOOD, 2008-2009). Sexton and Forbes are perfect in their roles as parents falling apart but trying to keep their family together in the wake of a terrible tragedy. Sexton’s reaction to the news, and his generally quiet rage, I found riveting. On top of these performances stand an incredible supporting cast including great turns from Eric Ladin (my personal favorite person involved with GENERATION KILL), Callum Keith Rennie (the man known better as Leoben from BATTLESTAR GALACTICA), and Bruce Campbell’s younger, prettier (but generally more boring) brother Billy Campbell.
The real star of the show, though, is the format. THE KILLING redefines the standard for police and character procedurals. THE KILLING is laid out with each episode representing a day following the murder of Rosie. This narrative format allows for interesting character development and a plodding, deliberate pacing that grounds the series in truth. This is a real investigation, filled with moments of sitting, combing the evidence, watching things over and over again, and working the case. The Seattle presented in THE KILLING isn’t in the same universe as the worlds of CSI or LAW & ORDER. Nothing here is clean, nothing can be sorted in a 45-minute episode, and the characters are as flawed and real as the people who sit next to you on the bus or the subway.
In the 13 episodes that comprise the first season, THE KILLING managed to make me care for a television show in a way that I haven’t since THE SOPRANOS and THE SHIELD left the air. My only gripe with the show is just how perfectly awful things are from time to time… the characters and the situations are just a bit too tidy from time to time. Still, this is a minor gripe in a show that I can honestly say I loved. THE KILLING: SEASON 1 is destination television and with an active internet following (with many fan groups calling foul with the season finale) this show is primed to take an incredible next step in its second season. In the meantime you should definitely check out this incredible show on Blu-ray. THE KILLING is redefining the genre, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!
Video: (1080p, 1.78:1 Widescreen) The video presentation of THE KILLING: SEASON ONE is beautiful without being ultra-stylized. The Blu-ray presentation is amazing.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio is presented nearly flawlessly, an incredible mix that pulls us in and holds us by the throat and holds us against a wall waiting to hear what THE KILLING: SEASON ONE has to offer next.
An Autopsy of THE KILLING (16:53) Found on the third disc, this reasonably short featurette talks about how they came across the story (it’s based on a Swedish television show) for THE KILLING: SEASON ONEand the Executive Producer/Creator (Veena Sud). It’s a nice presentation about putting together a new show.
Pilot Commentary with Executive Producer/Writer Veena Sud An interesting commentary for anyone who wants to know how a pilot comes together, this is a great look and really well presented. A must watch for any fans of THE KILLING: SEASON ONE.
Commentary on (Season Finale) Orpheus Descending with Mireille Enos and Nicole Yorkin This is a nice commentary and pairing star Enos with a writer and producer is a great way to bring out the best moments and tidbits of the first season of THE KILLING and this great episode.
Deleted Scenes (13:21) Some new scenes, some alternate shots/viewpoints, and some extensions of scenes included in THE KILLING: SEASON ONE. This menagerie of content is poorly presented and out of sequence but there are a few interesting moments among the muck.
Gag Reel (04:50) Not something you usually find on a serial drama, this is typical but it is fun. If you enjoy gag reels or if you watched and enjoyed THE KILLING: SEASON ONE, you’ll like this, especially Kinnaman and Enos hamming it up for a video camera while waiting on set.
THE KILLING SEASON ONE Blu-ray also includes an extended (3 extra minutes) version of the Season Finale. Some nice touches added – if you listen to the commentary you’ll know where they are.