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Forbrydelsen: No spoilers - The Ex-Communicator

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March 28th, 2011


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10:02 am - Forbrydelsen: No spoilers
The 20-part Danish murder mystery, The Killing, finished this week on BBC4. It has become a cult show among trendy liberal Guardian-reading types like me. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now I know whodunnit but you can read this review without fear of spoilers. The Americanised version will begin airing on AMC, my favourite US station, next Sunday Evening in the coveted Breaking Bad/ Mad Men/ Walking Dead slot. This has never let me down yet, hope they don't blow it. I think the plot is slightly different, so you can watch one without spoiling the other.

Each hour-long episode followed 24 hours (8pm-8pm) of the police investigation of a murder of a young girl. There are three interlinked stories: the girl's parents coping with their grief and its effect on their relationship, the police investigation, and its impact on a liberal politician standing for mayor of Copenhagen. At the very start it is revealed that his campaign car was used to move the body, and it is unclear to what extent he or his team were involved. All three strands were very well written and acted. The overall appearance of the show is visually dark and intense, this is another consistently good aspect of the show.

The best character, among many good characters, is the chief investigator, Sarah Lund. She is tough, obsessively single-minded about the investigation, and rather hard to get on with. I hope she isn't made more feminine or likable (conventionally feminine and likable I mean) in the US version, but in any case that won't alter the excellent performance we have here.

If I have a reservation it is that the powerful forward impetus of the show was partly created by mysteries and red herrings. I am not sure how the 20 hours will stand up to repeat viewing, now that much of that suspense and curiosity is satisfied. Some shows need to be seen fresh and sequential - the first one or two seasons of 24 were like that, though this is better all round. Intellectually it was intricate: by the end of episode 18 there were at least 6 possible resolutions, all compatible with the extensive evidence and human reactions we had seen. At a couple of points in the last few episodes plot strands were closed off slightly ruthlessly by deux ex machina interventions out of nowhere. But these are small reservations. I will try to view it all again from the start and see how it holds up.

Overall, it is extremely high quality TV. The scene where the detective realises who the killer is - so easily an anti-climax after so many episodes - was intense and emotional. The bitter-sweet open-ended resolution of the three storylines and the human characterisation was exceptional. Forbrydelsen II is on BBC4 later in the year, and I hope it is as good.

Guardian TV review of the final episode (no spoilers).
Guardian blog of the final episode (major spoilers).

(7 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:nineveh_uk
Date:March 28th, 2011 09:44 am (UTC)
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I hope she isn't made more feminine or likable (conventionally feminine and likable I mean) in the US version

This is my major fear for the re-make. I can see lots of ways that the programme as a whole has the potential to translate really well, but can't help anticipating a softening of Sarah (or conversely, that she'll be made only a "hard-nosed woman who lives for her job and has no emotional ties").
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:March 28th, 2011 11:28 am (UTC)
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Yes, it will be a challenge for US TV, which I generally like a lot but I think can be a bit hard on female characters
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From:gfk88
Date:March 28th, 2011 10:20 am (UTC)
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We were a bit "huh?" after the last couple of episodes (although I should mention that J guessed the killer correctly after ep 1). I don't think I've quite understood yet exactly what was going on.

Still, overall pretty fab.
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From:communicator
Date:March 28th, 2011 11:29 am (UTC)
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Can't really discuss what I think was well or badly explained without spoilering, but it passed the 'made me shout at the TV' test ('Sarah, No!').
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From:espresso_addict
Date:March 28th, 2011 01:34 pm (UTC)
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I missed the first n episodes so decided to give it a miss. Now I'm hoping they'll bring it out on DVD.
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From:communicator
Date:March 28th, 2011 03:03 pm (UTC)
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They may even repeat it on BBC2. Though the BBC seem to have a policy against any foreign-language content on the main channels, which I think is ridiculous.
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From:espresso_addict
Date:March 28th, 2011 03:19 pm (UTC)
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They might run it late at night, I suppose, when kids who might die of shock if they realised that there were other languages than AmericanEnglish have safely gone to bed.

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