In defence of 'The Killing' and why you should watch 'Forbrydelsen', the series that gave violent and angry birth to the much-maligned American adaptation.
It’s a tale of one murder, told two different ways; 'Forbrydelsen', the Danish drama that captivated audiences globally, and 'The Killing', the American version spawned by 'Forbrydelsen', which recently completed its run on SoHo.
'The Killing' was given a bit of rough treatment in the U.S. over the course of its two seasons.
Viewers’ whinged as a new suspect appeared to pop up each week, sending detectives Linden and Holder on increasingly wilder goose chases.There was further petulant sulking when the killer, of said Killing, wasn’t revealed in the final episode of season one, despite the very public announcement of a second season.
Critics and viewers were genuinely outraged and complained that they had been misled when the case wasn’t tidily wrapped up at the conclusion of the first season.
So incensed were some viewers in the U.S. that they turned off in their droves as the second season commenced, numbers dropping by 30%.Maybe we’re in the minority but we enjoyed 'The Killing'; it was suspenseful, moody and genuinely gripping with some great performances from under appreciated actors.
It shared not only an environment, the eerie backdrop of the Pacific Northwest but an intrigue of the kind that accompanied 'Twin Peaks', with its "Who Killed Rosie Larsen?" tagline mirroring the buzz the "Who Killed Laura Palmer" storyline generated in the first season of David Lynch’s seminal drama, before it turned gloriously weird.
The gripes directed at the series are puzzling, any crime drama needs multiple suspects to drive the suspense; something one of the greatest mystery authors of all time, Agatha Christie, knew and used to great effect.
Why anyone believed the crime would be solved in the first season with a second on its way is a mystery in of itself. Perhaps our attention spans have diminished so greatly that we can no longer sustain interest over more than 13 episodes.
When there’s a host of drab, rehashed crime dramas out there, 'The Killing' really didn’t deserve the vitriol directed at the American version and its producer Veena Sud, who was shocked at the backlash.
"I was definitely surprised by the level of expectation of closure. I didn’t expect the expectation."
"I was surprised initially and sad because we had planned from the very beginning to make this a two-season murder mystery," Sud says.
Perhaps the reason behind the negative reaction to 'The Killing' was the expectation placed upon it by the big snow boots it had to fill.'Forbrydelsen' (which actually translates as The Crime) is one of the most successful foreign language TV series of all time.
Prince Charles and Camilla count themselves amongst its fans, and Camilla was beside herself when Sofie Grabol, who plays detective Sarah Lund, presented her with a traditional Faroese sweater like the one she wears.
So popular was the series in Britain that it was even parodied on 'Absolutely Fabulous', featuring a cameo by actress Sofie Grabol.The first episode of 'Forbrydelsen' is much the same as 'The Killing', but before you start to think that 'The Killing' has just been lifted wholesale from 'Forbrydelsen', musical score, spooky trees, Nordic jumpers and all, there is enough variance to make it a completely different saga; with a different conclusion.
With a larger episode commitment, 'Forbrydelsen' has more time to tell its story and it contains plot strands and characters omitted from 'The Killing'.
In 'Forbrydelsen', our intuitive and obsessive female detective is named Sarah Lund and straight off it’s easy to see where Sarah Linden’s fashion sense for patterned Faroese jumpers derives from.
They’re the same character essentially, but the actresses who portray them have drawn them very differently.Linden’s off-hand icy manner is evident from the start, but Lund begins her case with a different frame of mind, slowly dissolving into herself as the case progresses.
Actress Sofie Grabol inhabited the character of Sarah Lund wholly, recounting how she put a stop to a romantic storyline destined for her character by telling the writers, "You are not doing that. It's a sell-out.' I remember saying: 'I am Clint Eastwood! He doesn't have a girlfriend!"
Lund’s partner Jan Meyer could not be further removed from The Killing’s sidekick, detective Holder.Instead of a brash, impulsive reformed drug addict, Lund’s partner is a family man who plays by the rules.
Not only does 'Forbrydelsen' go down different paths to 'The Killing', it also ventures outside of the city of Copenhagen and abroad as the story veers in a very unexpected direction.
If you didn’t watch 'The Killing', 'Forbrydelsen' will stand alone as the story of a murder with an iceberg-sized conspiracy lurking beneath.
Maybe you caught 'The Killing' on SoHo and want to spot the similarities and the differences of 'Forbrydelsen' for yourself.
Either way, prepare to be sucked down into the rabbit hole and into the warren of plot twists in the greatest TV crime of the century.'Forbrydelsen' - Thursdays at 9.30pm on SoHo