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Kevin Broccoli

Kevin Broccoli
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Providence, Rhode Island, United States
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July 19
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Salon.com
APRIL 25, 2011 1:47PM

Why I'm Giving Up on "The Killing"

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It happened last night.

I was twenty minutes into "The Killing" and I found myself checking the clock on the television for the fifth time to see if it was anywhere near done.

That's when I admitted to myself that I don't like this show.

I've been force-feeding it to myself for the past few weeks, because of the rave reviews from critics and the big ratings it took in for its first episode, but now I'm five hours in, and I find that I couldn't care less who killed Rosie Larsen, or why, or--you know what? I just don't care.

I'm tired of being expected to invest twelve to thirteen hours of my life in a television show for one or two big pay-offs at the end of the season. Television shows like this were conceived in the wake of the pop culture phenomenon that was "Twin Peaks" where the murder of Laura Palmer captivated audiences for an entire season. Now the "solve-the-murder-in-the-last-episode" trend is everywhere. What most producers fail to realize, however, is that the murder was the LEAST interesting part about "Twin Peaks." It had strong (albeit odd) characters and writing the likes of which has never been seen on television since. This is in contrast to the bland vanilla characterizations currently found on "The Killing."

I appreciate naturalistic acting, but I resent the implication that "everyday people" are boring. That's what these characters are--boring.

From Billy Campbell's stereotypical conflicted politician to Mireille Enos's one-note "troubled detective," it's hard to find anybody to invest in on this show.

The added subplots aren't helping either. Perhaps this may sound cruel, but since I'm talking about fictional characters, I'm going to come out and say it--I could care less about the dead girl's family. I don't want mystery shows so that I witness the same trite mourning scenes week-after-week. I can't even count how many times Rosie's father has burst into tears or how many haunted looks her mother has given the camera. I'm not saying these scenes aren't well-acted, but it's turning into something like grief porn, and that doesn't interest me. There's nothing original about these scenes, and in fact, I was shocked that none of the reviewers pointed out that the scene in the pilot where Rosie's body is discovered and her father screams "IS THAT MY DAUGHTER?" was lifted directly from the film "Mystic River." Critics complained that Sean Penn was overacting in that moment, but nobody said a word about it when "The Killing" did it.

Perhaps it's because AMC has become critic-proof. When you pump out hit after hit such as "Mad Men," "Breaking Bad," and (in my opinion) the best show of last year--"The Walking Dead," it tends to put a sheen on everything else you produce. Plus, critics love this sort of long, drawn-out, slow burn television. They indicate in their reviews that this sort of show is what "smart" audiences appreciate. Well, I consider myself a smart person, and I consider the shows I watch intelligent, and I don't think there's anything wrong in saying that I want television to engage me more than a handful of times over an entire season. The aforementioned "Walking Dead" was riveting from start-to-finish, and it had characters you could care about after one episode of viewing.

I'm not saying "The Killing" is a disaster. To be fair, it's one of the most cinematic shows on television right now. Some of the imagery is downright beautiful, and it nails the style and tone of the type of Danish series that its based on. The problem is it also comes across feeling like a cross between an Andre Dubus short story and a John Cassavetes film--neither one of those things are bad, but neither would work as a television show.

This doesn't either.

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Comments

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Thanks for writing this. I'm having a hard time figuring out what's so earth-shattering about this series.
You say 'I could care less about the dead girl's family.' What does that mean? How much less could you care? The term is, and you used it correctly earlier in your post, is, 'I couldn't care less....'

Don't mean to nitpick, but stuff like that drives me nuts.