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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Danish 'The Killing' Trilogy DVD: S1 Who Killed Nanna Birk Larsen

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This terrific Region 4 DVD set from Australia will not play in a standard U.S. player. It requires using a well-worth buying international player.]

Awesome Aussie DVD distributor Madman Entertainment continues focusing series of releases on genres regarding a superb trifecta of complete series of Danish procedurals. This trio of shows consists of the "The Protectors" and the original versions of the U.S. critical and audience hits "The Killing" and "The Bridge." As Madman states regarding these series, "'The Killing' started the world's love affair with Nordic Noir" and "paved the way" for the two series that followed it.

This series of Unreal TV reviews of these releases begins with a look at the first of three seasons of "Killing." A highly reliable source reports that roughly the first half of this 20-episode season closely parallels the American version. Differences include more graphic content in early episodes almost certainly being more racy in the Danish version and every episode delving deeper into the political storyline.

The genius of "Killing" is apparent from the beginning. We see Copenhagen police detective Sarah Lund, whom Sofie Grabel portrays to perfection, finding herself investigating a creepy dark area only to find herself (and the audience) the victim of a going-away prank with an element that almost certainly is modified in the American version. The imminent departure that prompts this token of affection is Lund and her tween son Mark being in the final stages of moving from Denmark to Sweden to live with Bengt, who is the Swedish psychologist to whom Lund is engaged.

As an aside, the move in this version requires that Mark learns Swedish. It is wondered if the impending move from Seattle to California in the American cousin requires becoming fluent in surfer speak.

The case that derails the move and that provides the background for S1 is an investigation into evidence of malfeasance in a wooded area that is a center of illicit activity. The tenacity of Lund that does not win her friends on the force but that provides great entertainment first manifests itself in demanding that the search for a presumed missing girl continue. Said initial search leads to discovering the well-concealed body of 19 year-old student Nanna Birk Larsen.

The tirfecta element of this three-season show also begins in the first episode. Father Theis Birk Larsen is frantically driving around looking for Ninna and politician "school mayor" Troels Hartmann is contemplating his reaction to what he subsequently wishes is the only potential scandal to go public regarding his campaign for "lord mayor" against 12-year incumbent Poul Bremer. Each episode right up to the thrilling final one divides its focus between the investigation/personal life of Lund, the impact of the titular crime and ensuing investigation on the Birk Larsen family, and the ongoing effect of all this on the political career of Hartmann.

Confused? You won't be after every marathon (rather than binge) worthy episode of "The Killing." It easily passes the "one more" test.

The rough pattern of each episode is that it covers a day in the investigation and typically focuses on a new suspect after revealing evidence that exonerates the most recently accused individual. This rogue's gallery includes individuals from every aspect of the life of Ninna, whose secret lives put the public ones of most of us to shame.

The on-screen behind-the-scenes drama in the life of Lund includes her taxing the patience of Bengt regarding incremental postponements of her move, the turmoil affecting Mark, and clashes with her replacement/temporary partner in crime-solving Jan Meyer.

Aside from the well-written plots and well-paced action of the episodes, the most intriguing aspects of "The Killing" are how quickly anyone can be caught up in the system and how little we know about the personal lives of private and public figures. Examples of alibis for the titular murder include a suicide attempt and an effort to help a woman escape an abusive situation.

The grand finale nicely wraps up the season of intrigue with Lund and her colleagues finally getting it right after a few red herrings. This episode additionally follows the grand tradition in this era of "bubble" television of serving as either a fitting series finale or a good starting point for the second season, which will be the subject of a late July Unreal TV post.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Killing" is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.