The Killing

I read that the first two seasons were leaving Netflix, gone on March 13th, and that was just the impetus I needed to check it out. I hadn’t watched it earlier because everyone said the Danish series it was based upon was better than the American iteration, and I’ve got no problem with subtitles and I believe in going to the source. Speaking of subtitles, the default on “Babylon Berlin” is dubbed, but you can go into the settings and get subtitles, it’s much less jarring.

But you had to pay for the original Danish series and that’s something I’m just not gonna do. First and foremost because I don’t believe in owning content, secondly because I’m sick and tired of paying, Charter/Spectrum just upped my bill to $197 and change and I barely watch television, but if I cancel the tube it’s almost as much for the internet, I can’t wait for 5G when these cable operators finally have some competition.

So we dug in.

Now the funniest thing about watching TV these days is figuring out where you’ve seen the actors before. It took me two episodes to realize that Joel Kinnaman was the Presidential candidate on “House of Cards,” and much more than that to connect Brent Sexton with “Bosch,” the next season of which is imminent, the worst thing about getting hooked on these series is the one year plus wait between binges, which is why it’s best to watch shows that are already completed, like “Breaking Bad.” Felice keeps asking me if there’s a new “Ozark” yet, I tell her it’s far from imminent!

And speaking of actors, the best performance in “The Killing”‘s first season is by one Michelle Forbes, who caught my eye in “Kalifornia” but I’ve rarely seen since. You see I’m not a flipper, I cannot sit in front of the TV every week as they dribble out episodes of series that are long on plot but short on substance. And honestly, “The Killing” falls into this trap until the final wrap-up season, paid for by Netflix, wherein they go much deeper psychologically, I like to dig my teeth in.

Still, I got hooked.

You see with all the focus on rich business titans, it’s the work of the everyday people that’s most interesting. Almost makes you want to be a cop. I could not look at dead bodies all day, not even once a year, and to be honest I’m not that good with puzzles, but you can see how rewarding this work is, which makes you contemplate how you’re spending your life.

As for the political side story… Took me a few episodes to recall I’d seen Billy Campbell in “Once and Again,” remember when Herskovitz and Zwick were the hopes for TV? I loved all their shows, especially the progenitor, “thirtysomething,” but that was thirty years ago and now the torch has been passed. That’s what’s weird about aging, you don’t expect to be replaced, you expect your heroes to continue to dominate, especially when they’re not in sports, but they’re birthing new people every day and they want a chance and they’re hungrier and what they don’t know doesn’t burden them.

But watching the politics in Seattle one wonders… If you start at the bottom can you ever make it to the top? I think it’s a rare event. You read the feel-good stories in the media, but navigating the personas is even more important than your work ethic and product and chances are you’ll get stuck and want to quit, you should quit, that’s America today, no one is looking out for you.

And the plot twists and turns, and it takes two seasons to resolve, and the problem with these mysteries is that unlike real life, there’s always a twist that solves it, you cannot figure it out, not the long game anyway, and this is so frustrating. But the performances are so good… Forbes is distraught as the mother, whereas Sexton plays a modern male, alternately strong and sensitive, a guy who tried to escape his past but is having a hard time doing so. That’s another problem, you can’t find your way in, and when you do you have to do stuff you don’t want to and the question is whether it’s gonna hurt you in the long run.

And I made the mistake of Googling and finding out who the real killer was, so I’m never gonna do that again, the urge is so great, to learn more about these characters you’re spending time with.

And in the third season when the plot turns to a different crime you yearn for the earlier characters, they’re played so well you believe it’s them. That’s what’s different about the Rock and these people, the latter are chameleons, and when you see them in a subsequent role you’re caught off guard.

And then the final Netflix season, which ties it all up…

Funny how the criteria are different. The traditional outlets check ratings, whereas Netflix is all about driving subscriber numbers. It’s these continuations that get people to sign up and then be hooked.

Although Netflix has an evolving paradigm.

First it was movies, via mail.

Then it was old TV shows and fewer movies via streaming.

And then came these extensions of canceled shows.

Then came foreign productions like “Narcos” and new shows like “Bloodline.”

And then there were documentaries and comedy specials and now, now they’re doubling-down on talk shows. Not only with Joel McHale, but now Norm Macdonald, which I believe is a huge mistake, I tried watching his podcast, his delivery is not dynamic and it’s so inside and so amateurish…Norm’s a niche, I could do better than him!

But they’re not gonna give me a show, I’m too old. Then again, Letterman has one, and when Howard Stern appears it will be a moment that captures the cultural zeitgeist, hell, that’s today’s world, either you’re clued in or you’re not, either you can’t stop listening to Howard or you never will. But the thing about Stern is he’s just that much better than everybody else, you get hooked. And it’s the same deal with these Netflix shows, you don’t want to go back to cable, or in my case, you never watched to begin with. You just want to pull up another Netflix show.

But they screwed up the ratings, now everything has four stars and you have to research online to know what’s worth viewing. Which portends the liberties Netflix is gonna take in the future, kinda like Google, which was our friend and now is our enemy, now that we’re hooked.

But Netflix is full-service, you don’t need anything else. Hell, you haven’t got time for anything else.

Just think about it…

You can cancel ALL your TV, you don’t even need a skinny bundle! While the NYT fawns over the decrepit SNL, you can just pull up the skits worth watching the next day online, or you can skip them entirely, I do, they never seem to have an ending, ever hear of a punch line?

But traditional TV is doomed, no one wants to watch by appointment and no one wants to wait for all ten or twelve episodes to appear. First, they came for the fall season, now series are introduced all year long, next they’re coming for the schedule.

And yes, “The Killing” is years old, I’m out of it, I missed it.

But the truth is we’re all missing something these days, anybody who says otherwise is lying. And speaking of lying, the great stuff is lying in wait, for when you’re ready, for when you hear about it. Never forget “Breaking Bad” was a stiff until Netflix made years of episodes available on demand and it blew up. Proving, once again, just because you don’t have an audience, that does not mean you’re bad.

So I watched 42 episodes of “The Killing.” I can’t believe it! Where did the time go!

But that’s modern television, it’s still somewhat comprehensible, you can find the nuggets and go deep, whereas music is nearly incomprehensible and most of what is released is dreck, even the filler on hit albums.

Then again, these series are based on people, on humanity, something that’s in short supply in music. In music you get fantasy and boasting, or faux reality, but we can tell the real thing.

And “The Killing” is pretty damn close.

Comments are closed