Watching TV for a living might sound like fun. And sometimes it is. However, you often end up viewing the sort of things you don’t really enjoy but know you have to see, even if you’d rather be watching your box set of M*A*S*H/learning to cook/battling your expanding waistline in the gym.
Because you know there’s a good chance someone will one day ask you to write 500 words about the latest unlikely programme to capture viewers’ imaginations and, when that day comes, quoting Hawkeye/volunteering a great curry recipe/doing 20 press-ups won’t get you very far.
So, in the spirit of televisual martyrdom, I sat down grudgingly in front of the box at 9pm on Saturday, preparing to devote two hours of my time to slogging through The Killing II.
Colleagues had raved about the first series, readers were hooked, even Charlie Brooker tweeted that he was enjoying it. Still, I wasn’t convinced that watching a double bill of a foreign-language crime drama on BBC4 was the best use of my Saturday night.
But I was wrong. From the harrowing opening scene, I was gripped. I should probably have felt foolish about all my misgivings and preconceptions, but I was so busy trying to make connections and solve the case, I didn’t have time.
Finally – a TV series that’s grabbed me and won’t let go. I haven’t felt that way about something in a long time.
It’s like the glory days of Taggart, back when the plots were gritty and Glasgow was grimy and the stories had room to breathe, running over multiple episodes instead of being stuffed into an hour-long box, like a bloated corpse into a cardboard coffin.
There have, of course, been plenty of recent dramas I’ve liked, featuring characters I’d happily while away an hour with, but The Killing is different. I’m desperate to know what happens next.
And, of course, the up side of my job is that I can see future episodes way ahead of most other viewers. But you know what? I don’t think I’ll cheat this time. I’m enjoying the sense of community that comes with viewing on Saturday night.
Not having seen season one of The Killing, I don’t get the sense that this series is “slower”, as die-hard fans have observed – the pace seems fine to me. Personally, I like the “political thriller” element that seems to have rankled with others.
And at the centre of the action, we have the wonderful Sarah Lund (Sofie Grabol): pretty but no candidate for Models 1; sensitive but not emotional; intelligent but no intellectual show-off; assertive but no ballbreaker. She may just be the female detective that all thinking women have been waiting for.
In addition, because I don’t know the protagonists’ backgrounds, or have a clue as to the relationships between returning characters, I’m enjoying feeling off-balance about how these could develop.
Why does Lund instantly shut her colleague Strange down when he tentatively tries to take the conversation outside work? Why are Lund and Brix so awkward around each other?
I don’t know and I don’t care! And long-term fans, please note: the comments box below is not an invitation to fill me in, either. I’m enjoying the journey – I’ll find out all I need to know along the way. I’m only sorry it took me this long to join you.
The next double bill of The Killing is on Saturday 26 November from 9pm on BBC4.