Wednesday 2 May 2012

A Tale of Two Box-sets

A while ago, my brother in law grew weary of recommending TV shows to me, and forcibly gave me a couple of box-sets. Consigned to the pile, and overlooked for a while, were Spiral (or Engrenages) and The Killing - both crime series.

We watched Spiral first. It's very stylish, very French and, despite the rather open ending, season one was gripping. Each episode has short story arcs, with crimes that the team are investigating, while the larger conspiracies unfold gracefully across the length of the series. Though some of the characters are more likeable than others, they all feel true, and it's hard not to be engaged in all of the interweaving threads.

We immediately bought season two, which was even better, and followed it with season three, which was still enjoyable but a little more laboured.

And then we watched The Killing. I'm aware it's a remake of a Danish show called Forbrydelsen, but we came to it cold so I can't compare the merits of the two versions.

The first episode was mostly excellent - gritty, beautifully shot, wonderfully scored - with a few jarring "oh the humanity" moments that almost put me off. Fortunately, we persevered, and the series largely manages to shrug off these "subtitles for the hard of thinking" and deliver a one long arc, that twists and turns agonisingly around a group of disparate characters, drawing them together...

...except, it's actually less than one arc. Just as the last episode builds to a neat climax that wraps (almost) everything up, one deft move scatters all the pieces of the puzzle ready for season two. It's a measure of how good the show is that this wasn't too frustrating.

Season two starts this week, and while I love the ongoing nature of the story, I hope it does what shows like Twin Peaks never quite had time for - resolves!

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