i Editor's Letter: The joy of The Killing


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The Independent Online


Do you ever have the feeling you are missing out on a big secret? That’s how I felt about The Killing, the(so all the critics said) “outstanding” Danish police drama that everyone seemed to be raving about at the start of the year.

It was famous for the taste in ugly sweaters of the detective Sarah Lund (the lead character), cool Danish interior design, and the interminable rain. That, and some of the tautest writing since 24’s first series. Oh, and you absolutely must not confuse it with The Killing, the “terrible” American spin-off. So, I sat down on Saturday night — in real time for once — with the Danish language and sub-titles.

When did you last watch a TV series with subtitles? I wasn’t in on those other two secrets, the Swedish Wallander and the French Engrenages(or Spiral) either — they all appear in the late Saturday night slot on BBC 4. I was sold on it by the time disgraced (and passport-checking) Sarah Lund, played entirely convincingly by new global star Sofie Grabol, met up with Ulrik Strange, her replacement on the job.

They walked through the dark rain together. Where is the thrill in that? Well, The Killing is entirely unlike almost every other detective show on TV. Judging by last Saturday, it lacks the casual sex scenes, good-cop, bad-cop routines, car chases and painful flirting that bedevil the rest. No wallies with brollies in Denmark either. Sarah is walking through the rain, getting that sweater (red for this season) wet all the time, so you might think it would pong a bit. A minor quibble.

The joy of The Killing lies partly in the utterly plausible acting in which each actor wears their character like... an old sweater, and partly in the series being that very rare thing on television: a slow burn. I am hooked. Why don’t you give det en chance?