Last updated at 10:31 PM on 1st July 2011
With its Danish-speaking characters, subtitles and bleak setting, crime drama The Killing was the most surprising television hit of recent times.
Now, a new US version, starting this week on Channel 4, aims to repeat its success. And the producers are taking no chances – the cold, dark setting, the tense storyline and even the lead character’s penchant for woolly jumpers mirror the original.
For those who didn’t get to see it on BBC4 earlier this year, The Killing tells the story of dogged detective Sarah Lund (Sarah Linden in the remake), investigating a murder. Each hour-long episode represents a day of the inquiry.
Detective drama: A new US version of the Danish television hit The Killing is starting this week on Channel 4 and aims to repeat its success
Audiences were gripped from episode one to 20, and the series went on to win numerous awards including a Bafta. Even David Cameron gave it the Prime Ministerial seal of approval, revealing that he and wife Samantha often watched the series in bed.
‘It’s brilliant,’ he said. ‘We should make more television like that in this country. Isn’t Lund wonderful? She reminds me of Samantha. They’re both very cool.’
But how will the American version fare?
After all, US remakes do not have a glorious history. Remember the
American version of the hit BBC2 sitcom, Coupling? Thought not. It was
pulled by US network NBC after just four episodes.
(Joel Kinnaman) is a detective, recently assigned to Homicide as Sarah Linden’s partner. He is soon immersed in the investigation into Rosie Larsen’s murder.
(Michelle Forbes) is a feisty force to be reckoned with. The devastated mother of the murder victim, Rosie, is desperate to avenge her loss and grief pushes her to contemplate illegal action.
(Brent Sexton) is Mitch’s husband and Rosie’s father. He runs a removals company. After his daughter is found murdered and as the details slowly begin to emerge, he is pushed to take extreme measures.
(Kristin Lehman) is the beauty and brains behind much of the political machinations in the show as campaign adviser for Seattle mayoral candidate, Darren Richmond. She is also his lover, adding to the web of secrets.
(Mireille Enos) is an
unflappable Seattle homicide detective. She is called in to probe the baffling murder of Rosie, and soon uncovers a mesh of intrigue.
The omens for the reworking of The
Killing are more promising, though. Steeped in a menacing aura, the
series stars Mireille Enos (Big Love) as Linden, a Seattle homicide
detective probing the death of Rosie Larsen. Her body has been found in a
car connected to local bigwig Darren Richmond. As the series unfolds,
Rosie’s parents, Mitch (Michelle Forbes, True Blood) and Stan (Brent
Sexton, The Mentalist), take drastic action.
It soon emerges that there is no such thing as an accident. Everyone harbours a secret and, while characters believe they have moved on, the past has a pitiless grip on their present lives.
The US adaptation retains the slowrelease tension, brooding characters and atmospheric landscapes of the original. But there are enough differences after the first two episodes – a few twists and more information about the characters’ lives – to keep fans of the original hooked.
The US version has already been well received in the States, where a remake seems wise – audiences tend to run a mile if they hear the word ‘subtitles’. Critics hailed it as ‘excellent, absorbing and addictive’.
Enos, who had a baby just before The Killing was picked up, says, ‘I’ll be standing in line at the store and someone will say how beautiful my baby is and then quietly add, “The show is great, by the way”.’
The Killing has so many layers, it’s like watching someone slowly unpeel an onion. The American show’s creator, Veena Sud (Cold Case), explains that, ‘The cops have secrets, the family has secrets, a marriage has secrets, politicians have secrets.’
There are no neat conclusions. ‘It’s not tidy because life’s not,’ says Sexton. Above all, the show is about characters. Enos says, ‘I think people are hungry for a series that allows you to invest in the people affected by what happens.’
And, if you have acute Danish drama withdrawal symptoms, never fear. BBC4 will soon broadcast the second season of the original. David Cameron – and the rest of us – will no doubt be gripped.
The Killing US starts with a double bill on Channel 4 on Thursday at 9pm
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Originally posted 2011-07-02 09:46:57.