Like every other American who has ever seen a television screen, I love Law & Order. It’s an integral part of the American family room. It’s what your grandma has on her twenty-year-old TV every time you visit her in the afternoon. It’s what you flip to on TNT when you want some white noise.
But beyond all the comfort and tradition lies the fact that every episode of Law & Order is about a murder. If you’ve watched every single episode of Law & Order, you’ve watched at least 456 staged murders. That’s not even to mention the crime you witness on L&O spinoffs such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit or knockoffs such as C.S.I.
In the post-L&O era (bet you never thought we’d see the day), murder is just part of the scenery. It’s another Don Knotts catchphrase or another sitcom troupe. It’s anything but what it probably should be: Scary.
Now AMC, quickly becoming the king of quality television, has commissioned a bleak and rain-soaked drama series, The Killing, to restore the power of the TV murder.
The Killing is an American remake of the Danish series, Forbrydelsen. Over its 13-episode first season, The Killing will purportedly cover each day in the investigation to find 17-year-old Rosie Larsen’s murderer. The narrative shares its time among three ongoing threads: The police investigation, the fallout for Rosie’s family and the ongoing campaign of mayoral candidate Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell), who may have something to do with the murder.
AMC’s marketing campaign is centered on the question, “Who Killed Rosie Larsen?” While the show certainly doesn’t shy away from this ‘whodunit?’ aspect, it doesn’t appear to be as singularly focused on the case’s resolution as AMC thinks we, as the audience, ought to be. Instead, the show takes its time at every step of the grieving process. We’re there for the discovery of the body; we’re there at the morgue to identify it and I’m willing to bet we’ll be there for the funeral. Even the investigation and campaign aspects of the storyline appear to focus on the emotional toll of murder, even when one doesn’t know the victim.
The Killing is at times tough to take, but it’s crafted wonderfully and ultimately worth a shot. It may not be your ideal escapist entertainment, but at the very least, it’s penance for callously watching all of those Law & Order characters die without ever batting an eyelash.
— Alec Bojalad is a junior studying journalism. If you enjoy The Killing, email him at email@example.com.