We finally got around to watching the original Danish version of The Killing thanks to Malkovich Malkovich. We were gripped for all twenty episodes, but given all the little bits I'd read about it (not too much because I didn't want to accidentally read a spoiler) I'd been expecting some truly original TV, as in The Wire original.
Instead it was surprisingly full of clichés and not just a few but almost every one the detective/thriller/cop drama can throw up, barring the old cop two days from retirement getting killed. Even the story is fairly straight-forward, with what amounts to an episode of Inspector Morse taking 10 times as long. But then Inspector Morse was good telly too. This also means much of the story ends up, much like 24, being about red herrings and dead ends, with whole episodes ending up not furthering the plot at all and someone's bare-faced lies being revealed every episode.
This sounds like it should be bad but the acting is excellent and the script seemed really good, excepting a few dodgy lines. I suppose one can't necessarily judge a script that's read compared to one that's written - I've read plenty of books where character dialogue would have sounded ridiculous if someone had actually said it out loud - so maybe I should just say that it read well. Certainly we didn't have the normal scenery eating acting or those ridiculous 'emoting 101' moments where someone SMASHES THE STUFF OFF THEIR DESK to make a point about how angry they are.
I think I could only have wished it had more of a continuous plot running through it with each episode building things up. The only show I remember really using that device well recently was Damages, which is similarly laced with clichés and good acting but is only 13 episodes long, so doesn't have to stretch its story quite so much. It also leaves me a little baffled as to why the US market felt the need to remake something that was really just apeing quality US dramas in the first place. Oh well, one day I'll probably see an episode of it and it'll start with 'Previously, on The Killing' and somewhere in the episode someone will get massively emo and upend a table and scream and yell.