I can't tell you how perplexed I am by all the headlines I have seen this week comparing the excellent new AMC drama "The Killing" (Sunday, 9pm) to the surreal 1990 mystery, 'Twin Peaks.'
Apart from a dead teenage girl and the rainy atmospheric setting of Washington state, the two shows don't appear to have very much in common (oh yeah, and a ripoff tagline on their poster). If anything, 'The Killing' almost immediately reminded me of the imported Canadian series 'Durham County,' which aired in the U.S. on ION (if you haven't seen it, try to).
Perhaps the critics espousing 'Twin Peaks' theories have seen more episodes of 'The Killing' than I have, but as far as I can tell, there are no supernatural elements to the new show, and none of the campy, comical weirdness that made 'Twin Peaks' distinctive.
'The Killing' is a more straightforward, deliberate tale of the investigation into the murder of a 17-year-old high school student. We experience the story through the police detectives, the grieving parents, and a local politician whose campaign is somehow connected to her murder.
'The Killing' is actually a remake of a wildly popular Danish TV series, with the American version set in Seattle (I honestly think that's where the 'Twin Peaks' comparisons must come from, but I've resisted reading other reviews until after finishing this one). I highly recommend the series based on what I've seen so far -- three episodes and I'm hooked -- but I think viewers going to 'The Killing' expecting a mind-bending, acid-trip horror parody will be disappointed. And don't get me wrong, I loved 'Twin Peaks.' No 'Peaks' bashing here!
The acting in 'The Killing' is superb, and the measured pace is just right. It almost feels like watching a movie at times. 'And it's definitely on par with other superb AMC dramas: 'Mad Men,' 'Breaking Bad,' 'The Walking Dead,' and yes, the canceled 'Rubicon.'
Mireille Enos ('Big Love') plays the primary detective on the murder case, and her partner is played by Joel Kinnaman. Enos and Kinnaman portray unconventional television crime drama detectives: they aren't glamorous or macho, and they don't have super human or quirky genius tendencies. In other words, they seem real and realistically flawed.
The same can be said for Michelle Forbes ('True Blood') and Brent Sexton ('In the Valley of Elah'), who play the parents of the slain girl (Forbes and Sexton, right). I'll probably catch grief for this, but I can honestly say that this is the only role I've seen Forbes in where she didn't get on my nerves from her first scene. (It's not her, it's me.)
Forbes gives a powerful performance here as the grieving mother, one which moved me to tears on a couple of occasions.
Billy Campbell ('Once and Again') fills out the main cast as Seattle's City Council President who is also running for mayor. Exactly how he is connected to the case is something we'll all learn together along the way. But connected, he surely is.
My advice is to put the numerous 'Twin Peaks' comparisons aside and enter into 'The Killing' with an open mind. And if future episodes reveal dancing dwarfs, clairvoyant logs, and demonic possession, I'll eat a whole cherry pie in one sitting and admit publicly that I was wrong.
'The Killing' has a special two-hour premiere tonight at 9pm. On subsequent Sundays, 'The Killing' will air at 10pm.