The truth has to be said again, and it’s me who will say it. If you were hoping there was something on TV that could equal The Wire – Danish The Killing is definitely not it (on contrary to what the DVD box cover claims).
Yes, the story tells about a police investigation and a political campaign. Yes, the lead detective is obsessed with solving the case and doesn’t seem to mind her private life taking a hit. A certain amount of people die. That’s about where the similarities end.
The Killing comprises 20 hour-long episodes and as you keep watching, with each subsequent episode time seems to drag longer and longer, until finally you become so desperate you’d rather switch the damn thing off, not even caring any more who’d done it. The writers stretched the script to the limits. You decide to go on, however, and once you get used to doing your nails and reading a book at the same time as watching the series, or watching on fast forward, the pace picks up in the third episode before end.
My biggest complaint, though, is that The Killing lacks realism, which was the biggest asset of The Wire. The people of Copenhagen are portrayed as a bunch of psychopaths – without an exception. Everyone involved, including the victim’s parents, is lying and keeping information crucial to the case to themselves. Their motives for withholding information are dubious and improbable and in the end work to each person’s detriment. There is not one character you sympathise with.
The police are always sure they’ve caught the killer, until they have found another suspect five minutes later. They are also treated by both victims and suspects in a very ignorant, ‘I’m busy – can you come later’ way. On the other hand, the local politicians are very efficient, holding important meetings every evening and taking critical decisions on a daily basis.
The Killing is never funny and almost no-one smiles (unless it’s an ironic smile). No one behaves friendly towards another human (unless they are the killer). I am telling you, this is a picture of an odd society.
All in all, watching The Killing for me was a waste of time. I wanted to see the ending even though the episodes did not entertain me. My advice: don’t even start… It will be extremely hard to find (or produce) anything like The Wire.