‘The Killing’ Resurrected: AMC's Cancelled Detective Drama Comes Back to Life
Like the defiant corpse in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Killing isn't dead just yet. Turns out the show that infamously followed (and followed, and followed) the murder investigation of Rosie Larsen was recently resurrected by AMC — the channel that cancelled it this past July.
Thats right, the show we loved, and then loved to hate, is coming back for another go after being cancelled almost immediately following its second season wrap last spring. It will be a new murder mystery, since the Rosie Larsen story finished up last year. (And to many, that was one season too many, too late.)
Various sources, including Variety, are reporting that, through a few financial concessions, some hard-selling by producer Veena Sud and possible shared production costs with Netflix, AMC has revived the show for another year.
The question is whether audiences will similarly take back The Killing.
There was much to love about the show in 2011, its premiere year. Like other shows in the AMC stable (Mad Men, Breaking Bad and the long-lost Rubicon) The Killing was a cinematic-quality television experience, following gloomy detectives Holder and Linden (Joel Kinnaman and Mireille Enos, top) through the even gloomier rain-soaked Seattle streets as they looked for a teen girl's killer. It also delivered incredible drama by taking viewers inside a family ripped apart by the murder of a child.
The Killing, when it started out, was gripping, gritty and, unfortunately, all too believable. It was also quite something to listen to, as well, with the score by Franz Bak taking many scenes notably deeper, especially last season's finale. (Bak also scored the original Danish version of the series, Forbrydelsen.)
And then, a funny thing happened on the way to what viewers presumed The Killing was: a one-season murder case. Just as Rosie got sucker-punched with a flashlight, so did the audience. Viewers sat primed, erroneously, for a one-season finale to the Larsen storyline. Then, the arc lurched, and went headlong into a second season at the conclusion of the first-season finale. And it didn't just go into the first episode of the second season as a reward for returning. The Larsen murder mystery ran all the way to the second season finale.
The message boards went haywire with rants, the ratings dropped and the second season letdown was palpable. For all the assets a single-season story arc has going for it — novel deep character depth, the feel of real time unfolding — a two-season trek has similar liabilities; umpteen twists in the investigation trail and writers left with unavoidable red herrings to toss around. Even Detective Holder seemed a little shady in a few episodes. At one point it seemed as though even the doorstop could have committed the Larsen murder.
Viewers who bought into the season-long arc (including me) but were accustomed to cases getting solved in one show, or a few, started tuning out. By the payoff — the second-season finale — the show's buzz and ratings were underwhelming.
Followers of the original Forbrydelsen knew the storyline ran two seasons before the murder was solved. But somehow in the States, the expectations were for one, due in part to AMC decision to not dissuade us otherwise.
So why bring the series back? Some of The Killing's appeal may be actors Enos (left) and Kinnaman, who were popular with fans even as they lost interest in the show itself. (The two may be the only returning major characters.) This summer Enos appears in the zombie tale Word War Z, and Kinnaman will turn up in the 2014 reboot of RoboCop. As wiggly as the Larsen storyline got, the Linden and Holder characters were always eccentric and watchable, and there was always the sense that a new case would bring similarly interesting results.
Producer Veena Sud and her team are obvioulsly capable of making great, compelling television, and reports have it that they presented a persuasive case for a new third season storyline, hence the show's return.
Sud clearly has the chops, exploring as she did the tragic loss of a young woman in all its unhappy detail. She saved the deepest and maybe the best drama for last season's finale, where we saw the missing reel of a self-made movie that Rosie had shot just before her death.
As the Larsens sit in their living room, Rosie smiles from the television screen, flipping through a series of hand-written cards, talking about how she looks forward to seeing the world and telling her family how much she loves them. It’s a beautiful, haunting moment as they see some of the last, happy moments of Rosie's life.
The Larsens got closure. And so did those who stuck around for 26 episodes.
Now The Killing has a second life. And presumably the new storyline will live within the boundaries of expectations — and a set number of episodes.