The Killing is ours. OK, it’s Danish and it’s four years old, but it’s still OURS, a beloved 20-part subtitled crime drama co-opted by hundreds of thousands of proprietorial British fans when it was shown on BBC4 earlier this year. So are we right to howl like a pack of wolves in a Scandinavian winter at the temerity of the American TV network AMC to re-make our adored Forbrydelsen (we connoisseurs use its native title)?
The US version starts with a double bill on Channel 4 on Thursday and by virtue of its transmission on a terrestrial rather than a minority digital channel, is highly likely to win more viewers than its Scandinavian parent. Yes of course, it can be watched and enjoyed by The Killing neophytes, but what about lovers of the original? Can we be won over by this 13-episode pretender? Here’s a comparison.
In Forbrydelsen the murder of teenager Nana Birk Larsen was the story’s heart and its arteries as we witnessed the painful aftershocks of a violent, premature death. Here the victim is Rosie Larsen and again her killing is the locomotive that drives the story as we see the effects on her parents, her schoolfriends and beyond.
It didn’t appear on the cast list, but Copenhagen was a strong supporting player in Forbrydelsen. This wasn’t the sunny Danish capital of travel guides, it was a place of darkness and shadow. In the US version we travel to a grey, wet Seattle; a noisy, working city of hidden horrors. It works well; setting it in, say, LA, would have been fatal.
Danish inspector Sarah Lund (magnificent Sofie Grabol) became a touchstone with her wilting pony tail, rain slicker and, of course, The Jumper, the indestructible piece of Faroe Island knitwear.
In Seattle she is the lovely though similarly resolutely unglamorous Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos); she is quiet, watchful and undemonstrative (like our Sarah). Yes she wears a jumper; it’s brown with a Faroe Isle pattern. Happy now?
Like Lund, she is ready to up sticks with her son to move to a new city (San Diego) to marry her boyfriend. But the killing of Rosie delays her.
Stephen Holder is no Jan Meyer, Lund’s bagman. For a start he bears an uncanny resemblance to Mackenzie Crook; he’s tattooed, scruffy and – gasp – he smokes dope!
In the original The Killing, Copenhagen mayoral candidate Troels Hartmann – handsome and emotionally distant – found himself battered by the aftershocks of the murder. In Seattle, Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) is altogether different. He’s nowhere near as charismatic as Troels, is a bit wet and wears his heart on his sleeve.
Still to be convinced? Still think it’s not worth watching because you know how the Danish one ended and surely this version won’t be any different. Actually, the unmasking of the killer, when it finally comes, is completely wrong-footing and, for various reasons, left American fans of the series both gripped and infuriated.