Stephen Armstrong has written a thorough and informed review of the series currently running on BBC4 with contributions by the writers, Gråbøl and myself (trying my best to pitch our Nordic Noir events).
Armstrong begins the review by comparing it to the famous American series The Wire (I get the connection in terms of style, urban context and focus on character, but otherwise it is a bit stretched). He writes:
If someone you know hasn’t recommended The Killing to you yet, they will soon. Pretty much guaranteed. It is, in word-of-mouth terms, the new The Wire. In fact, it shares a lot with the now almost mythical Baltimore cop show. It’s got cops, for starters. There’s also town-hall corruption with attendant political journalists and mayoral candidates, and the tale spins out devoid of the clichés surrounding thrillers or police procedurals. In other ways, however, The Killing is different. For one thing, it’s in Danish.
Imagine a time when something appearing in original languages on UK tv with subtitles will not seem strange or exotic! And imagine a time when newsmedia will be capable of adopting foreign ortography, so that Gråbøl wont be spelled (and pronounced) Grabol. Armstrong makes a strong case for allowing more international tv enrich UK programming. The review presents some interesting observations about the character-driven Nordic Noir style, and the gender of the series’ protagonist.
I am quoted for saying the following, which surely some of you will disagree with, so sorry:
For Dr Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen, lecturer in Scandinavian literature at UCL, The Killing is still a part of “Nordic noir”, the genre that spawned The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the Wallander books and TV series. “They all share a certain bleakness, a certain view of the city and the countryside, a slow pacing and the presence of political disenchantment,” he explains. “It’s the Nordic regions’ literary reaction to the ending of the social democracy, to the unfolding of the cosy post-war period. Often, you find writers of Nordic thrillers come from a poetic or high literary background, but find the detective genre a useful plot tool, a way of driving the story forward. All the same, unlike more typical American and British detective fiction, the essence of these stories is the people, not the crime. That’s why it’s noir — these are dark people with dark characters unfolding. It’s not a romp to solve the clues.”
From The Sunday Times, “The Wire in the Blood” (13-02-2011): http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/culture/film_and_tv/tv/article539562.ece#prev