Last Night's TV: The Killing/Channel 4
Candy Bar Girls/Channel 5

I've long been of the opinion that subtitles paper over the cracks in a foreign film or television series, making it seem marginally more sophisticated than it really is. That the dialogue was incomprehensible to English-speakers in Forbrydelsen (the original Danish version of The Killing), or in the excellent French crime thriller Spiral, disguised any potential bum notes. I'm convinced this is why critical consensus favours the Swedish series of Wallander over Kenneth Branagh's, rather than any genuine gulf in class. In fact, I can assure you with some conviction that there were shonky lines in Forbrydelsen, because I happen to live with a Danish screenwriter, and she told me so. (This is not a joke.) Still, the first episode of the American remake served only to remind me of the original's considerable qualities.

Forbrydelsen, in case you missed it, depicted the investigation of a 17-year-old schoolgirl's murder. What set it apart was not simply that so much screen-time was devoted to a single case, but that the police were not its sole protagonists. An idealistic mayoral candidate with a devious entourage was dragged into the inquiry, while the study of the bereft family's raw grief gave the series an authenticity, even as the mystery plot became increasingly preposterous.

In The Killing, Copenhagen has been exchanged for Seattle, and Detective Sarah Lund – the jumper-wearing, nicotine gum-chewing antiheroine determined to track down the killer – is now Sarah Linden. The ambitious, apparently blemish-free councilman is played by Billy Campbell, formerly The Rocketeer, while the supporting cast had me spending most of the hour trying to recall which other US dramas they had appeared in: a distraction that was, of course, absent from the Danish original.

The distraction was welcome, I'm afraid, because the plot was so cringemakingly familiar. It's almost impossible to suspend disbelief when you're watching new actors play a set of characters that you've already come to know intimately, with different faces and different voices. And that effect is only amplified when it's a remake of a 20-hour television show from which you've only recently shrugged off your withdrawal symptoms, rather than a remake of some movie that you haven't seen in a decade or more. Even the musical score has been borrowed from Forbrydelsen, and deployed in identical fashion.

I did try to be objective for the benefit of Independent readers; to watch The Killing with fresh eyes. Naturally, I failed. It is made by AMC – the production house behind Mad Men and Breaking Bad – so it is well scripted, well acted and well shot. It's a smart move to have turned the 20-part original into a 13-part remake; the most glaring flaw in Forbrydelsen was its persistent need to cast suspicion onto new characters, and then concoct implausible narrative strategies to pluck suspicion from them and cast it elsewhere again. There ought to be fewer such instances in an abridged adaptation. I'm also led to believe – by American websites that I find difficult to avoid – that the story will diverge from the original, and that even the killer's identity may have changed. I shan't be watching to find out, though.

I'll confess that I came to Candy Bar Girls with a few preconceptions, too – mostly derived from the advertising campaign that preceded it. If you live in the capital and have failed to spot the profusion of billboards adorned with the word "LESBIANS" in seven-foot high pink letters, then you must be either blind or unusually impervious to titillation. The fact that this documentary about the lives of London lesbians – centering on a Soho establishment called Candy Bar – was to be broadcast on Channel Five also gave me some warning of what to expect.

Still, it struck me that there seem to be a lot more gay men on UK television that there are gay women (Coronation Street aside), and that this might, therefore, be a healthy addition to a balanced televisual diet. Unfortunately, it turns out that self-selecting lesbians, of the sort who might apply to take part in a reality TV programme, are just as insufferable as self-selecting people of any other persuasion. Sure enough, one of the participants, "Shabby", was once a Big Brother contestant, and is no less obnoxious now than I imagine she was then.

Danni, 22, was the "pole-dancing lesbian", whom men (such as, for example, the Polish builders refurbishing the bar) might well fancy, for all the good it'll do them. But she turned out to be pretty unpleasant as well, ruthlessly dumping her long-term girlfriend for the cameras, and forcing her to move out, there and then. Danni and Shabby, mercenary in their monopoly of the screen, tended to drown out the more personable members of the cast.

With my minimal knowledge of the so-called lesbian "scene", I'm unable to confirm whether Candy Bar Girls constitutes a worthy portrayal, though I suspect not. The supposed narrative driving the series forward was the relaunch of the bar under new ownership – which, claimed its promotions manager and DJ, Sandra Davenport, was "the most exciting thing to happen on the lesbian scene in the last few years, bar none." Gary, the incoming owner, was very keen to remove all traces of pink – pink wallpaper, pink lights – from the old, seedy incarnation before its grand re-opening. I presume he profoundly disapproves of Channel Five's billboards.

Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
books
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
books
Arts and Entertainment
The man with the golden run: Daniel Craig as James Bond in 'Skyfall'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Waving Seal' by Luke Wilkinson was Highly Commended in the Portraits category

photography
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering