The Killing: the US and Danish finales go head to head

But is it a fair fight to pit the series against each other?

There’s a knitwear clash on TV tonight as the final episode of the US version of The Killing goes head to head with its Danish progenitor. Channel 4 airs a double bill of the remake from 9pm while BBC4 reaches the end of its weeknight repeats of Forbrydelsen (to give the show its true title) at 10pm.


Throughout its run, the American drama has been compared unfavourably with the original despite the two concentrating on roughly the same murder case: that of schoolgirl Nanna Birk Larsen/Rosie Larsen, whose tortured body is found in the boot of a car dredged from a canal.

Leading the investigation in both countries is a driven, sweater-clad officer (Sarah Lund/Sarah Linden), while each series requires subtitles for British audiences (if only to understand what the hell Sarah’s partner, Holder, is talking about in the Seattle-set production).

But those who’ve watched Forbrydelsen and The Killing have commented on a lack of subtlety in the latter and expressed dismay that perceived short cuts taken in the plotting has resulted in a programme of less depth and complexity. It’s an argument set to be fuelled further by the transmission this evening of The Killing’s 13th episode, criticised by the Los Angeles Times as being “one of the most frustrating finales in TV history”.

There’ll be no letting slip of spoilers here, but the best advice for those feeling aggrieved would be to keep from jumping to conclusions. Forbrydelsen was originally set to be shown as two seasons divided by a gap of ten months, but Danish viewers were left so annoyed at the end of the first tranche of instalments in 2007 that production immediately resumed, hence the 20-part mystery that has so captivated BBC4 viewers.


Until Sarah Linden clocks up as many working hours as Lund (and, rest assured, US broadcaster AMC has ordered more episodes), the scrap over which channel possesses the superior product remains a little unfairly weighted in Forbrydelsen’s favour.