Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Killing: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
From writer, executive producer and series showrunner Veena Sud (“Cold Case”) “The Killing” ties together three distinct stories around a single murder including the detectives assigned to the case, the victim's grieving family, and the suspects. Set in Seattle, the story also explores local politics as it follows politicians connected to the case. As the series unfolds, it becomes clear that there are no accidents; everyone has a secret, and while the characters think they've moved on, their past isn't done with them.  “The Killing” stars Emmy® and Golden Globe® nominated Mireille Enos (“Big Love)” as Sarah Linden, the lead homicide detective that investigates the death of Rosie Larsen; Billy Campbell (“Once and Again”) as Darren Richmond, Seattle's City Council President and now running for Mayor; Joel Kinnaman (“Snabba Cash”) as Stephen Holder, an ex-narc cop who joins the homicide division in the investigation to find Rosie's killer; Emmy® nominated Michelle Forbes (“True Blood”) as Rosie's mother, Mitch Larsen; and Brent Sexton (“W.”, “In the Valley of Elah”) as Rosie's father, Stan Larsen. The pilot was directed by Patty Jenkins (“Monster”).

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

The Killing is an AMC crime drama based on a Danish show.  Mirelle Enos stars as Det. Sarah Linden.  As season one begins, Det. Holden is on her last day of work and is planning to move to Sonoma with her son Jack (Liam James) and fiancĂ© Rick (Callum Keith Rennie).  Her replacement is the poorly dressed Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) who appears as though he belongs on an undercover drug deal.

As it says right on the cover of the Blu ray, The Killing is about who killed Rosie Larson.  The season begins as the viewer is introduced to Rosie's family, and they are unaware she is even missing having been away all weekend.  Even though you know Rosie is dead, you're hoping that the body found in the trunk of the sedan being pulled from the river will be some other teenage girl, and not young Rosie.

As the season continues, The Killing is as much about who killed Rosie as it is about the damage done to her loved ones left behind.  Rosie had two parents who loved her very much, two young brothers, and an aunt who tries to help out and pick up the pieces of the shattered family.  Some of her loved ones are focused on who killed her and can't move on until they have someone to blame.  Some want justice, some want vigilante justice, some don't feel that any answers will bring Rosie back or give them any peace.  Suspects include a teacher, an employee of Rosie's father and a Councilman (Billy Campbell).  The Councilman Darren Richmond is in the middle of a campaign, but the car Rosie was found in belonged to that campaign. 

As season one ends, a suspect is in custody.  He is not the first person Detectives Linden and Holder have accused, and the case is certainly not wrapped up.  I expected the season to end with an answer to who killed Rosie Larson, but the way it ended I wouldn't be surprised if they took an entire season to answer that question.  Personally, I would have wrapped it up and had season two be about who killed someone else.

Beyond the pilot the show did grow on me.  Mirelle Enos also grew on me and I was glad she stuck around.  Joel Kinnaman did not grow on me.  I would love to see something else that actor has been in to see if my dislike of him is based solely on his character in this show or if he is truly is so good at acting that he plays white trash this believably.  As is, there's nothing about that character or his portrayal that makes him a believable Detective.  Complaints aside, if you like slow burn detective shows that take a season to find a killer then this show will appeal to you.   A lot of people were unhappy with how the show ended and all of the false red herrings that was doled out so be prepared for some possible angst! 

Video (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)

The Killing is presented in widescreen 1.78:1 ratio.  This was not one of the better Blu-ray transfers I've seen.  The show is filmed om 35mm film and there's a very heavy layer of grain present.  In bright white skies, or dark night there was extreme static and visual noise that was extremely distracting.  While this transfer should have been a lot better than this, at least there's more clarity during close ups of the actor's faces.  I'm not sure why the show-runners of this show chose to film the show this way, but it wasn't a very good decision.  This is one of the worst looking televisions to hit Blu-ray although that's apparently partly intentional.

Audio (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

The Killing is presented in a decent DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that does the job but could have been better.  Dialogue was clear and consistent, not needing adjustment. There weren't a lot of sound effects, gun fire, and other audio elements to test the limits of your sound system.  I did notice a lack of environmental elements I expected to hear from the rear channels during Rosie's run through the woods that would have immersed the listener in that scene.  The show's musical score is delivered nicely and is nicely balanced with the rest of the mix.

Extras (4 out of 5 stars)

The special features are adequate in number but they are more focused on thoughts from the show's producers and writers at the cost of the actors' participation, as they aren't included in the extras as much as I'd like. 

Disc One Special Feature
  • Commentary on The Killing (Pilot) - Commentary featuring Executive Producer/Writer Veena Sud.

Disc Three Special Features
  • An Autopsy of The Killing - A featurette focused on Executive Producer Veena Sud and the origins of the show.  Contains interviews with Executive Producer Mikkel Bondesen, Producer Kristen Campo, Co-Executive Producer/Writer Nicole Yorkin and primary actors.
  • Deleted scenes - Numerous deleted scenes most of which seemed like they were in the film.  They were insignificant snippets that wouldn't have added much had they been left in and didn't take away much being edited out.  The scene at the end where Sara gets off the plane was the one significant piece they should have left in, in my opinion.
  • Gag Reel - Billy Campbell says the "f" word a lot when he messes up his lines. 
  • Commentary of Orpheus Descending - Commentary featuring actor Mirelle Enos and Executive Producer/Writer Nicole Yorkin.
Summary (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

I was disappointed when I started watching The Killing once I realized it was the pilot I'd already seen and didn't really like.  However, after watching season one, there was enough there to interest me enough that I would watch season two.  I was surprised by the fact that the show focused so much on the damage done to Rosie's family by her death and I think they did an excellent job portraying that loss.  I wasn't that happy with the picture quality (especially considering that this is on Blu-ray) but the audio and extras help balance that out.  I really hope that season two begins with Det. Holder going away because I just don't like that actor's portrayal.  Besides, Sarah Linden doesn't need a partner, at least not that guy! 

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