Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The Killing series 2 with Sofie Gråbøl PREVIEW

Recalled – Sarah Lund (Sofie Gråbøl). Pics: BBC

Rating ★★★★½

BBC4 from Saturday 19 November, 9pm

Story: A female lawyer is murdered in macabre and puzzling circumstances. At Copenhagen police headquarters, Lennart Brix decides to ask disgraced former detective Sarah Lund if she would take a look at the case. At first, she says no…

Obsessively breaking the messy Nanna Birk Larsen case in series one has taken a grim toll on enigmatic detective Sarah Lund.

For a start, she's no longer an investigator, having been shifted to some kind of traffic/border duties in the countryside. She also seems to be alienated and alone, adrift from her son and mother.

However, when her former boss, old stone-face Lennart Brix, is confronted with the disturbing murder of a female lawyer, he tells detective Ulrik Strange to approach Lund for assistance on the case.

Sarah Lund – telling her boss what he doesn't want to hear
We see her in her dismal flat, frying eggs for breakfast. She is reluctant at first to look at the case. The lawyer was found tied up in her garden, stabbed 21 times. Her husband was having an affair with his secretary and is the main suspect, though he has an alibi.

Already making waves – Lund with Brix (left) and Strange
Lund eventually visits the crime scene. It's not long before she's telling Brix what he doesn't want to hear – she doesn't think the husband did it. Then she drops her bombshell – it was not a crime of passion…

One of the most glorious sights on television earlier this year was Sofie Gråbøl as the infuriatingly single-minded Sarah butting heads with the authorities and her colleagues. When series one went out at the start of 2011 on BBC4 it became a word-of-mouth sensation despite having zero promotion, being subtitled and coming from unfashionable Denmark.

The Killing – how does series two compare?
But hundreds of thousands of viewers, clearly jaded by the formulaic 'hits' they're used to, such as Midsomer Murders, became engrossed by it. The Killing attracted more viewers to BBC4 than Mad Men, it won a Bafta and last month picked up three Crime Writers' Association Daggers, including awards for Sofie Gråbøl and best international drama. And then there was the US spin-off, which was also pretty decent.

But how does series two compare? It will be 10 instead of 20 episodes, for a start, so could struggle to match the original for emotional depth, though series one did have several red herrings to pad it out.

Series two obviously sheds many of the superb original characters – such as Troels Hartmann, and Pernille and Theis Birk Larsen. But the format feels refreshed, with Sarah dealing with a new type of case, one that has a military subtext and more political shenanigans in the form of a recently appointed justice minister dealing with terrorism.

It also becomes a race against time as more victims are found.

Lund and Strange

Sarah – a woman of very few words
And, of course, at the eye of the storm is Sarah, the woman who sacrificed her happiness to solve the Larsen case. Clearly, she has an emotional screw loose, famously being so compulsive that she wore the same Faroe Island jumper throughout the first series of Forbrydelsen, to give it its Danish title.

This time she makes the radical switch to a red jumper, but remains as uncommunicative as The Man with No Name.

The Killing has been without doubt the crime drama of the year, and The Killing II is a good follow-up. It has shown how good crime shows can be when the writing is as good as Søren Sveistrup's, filled with emotionally engaging characters.

It's even had a big enough impact on audiences for BBC4 to buy more Scandinavian series in the form of The Bridge and Sebastian Bergman for 2012.

In the meantime, welcome back, Lund.

Cast: Sofie Gråbøl Sarah Lund, Nicolas Bro Thomas Buch, Charlotte Guldberg Karina Munk Jørgensen, Preben Kristensen Carsten Plough, Ken Vedsegaard Jens Peter Raben, Stine Prætorius  Louise Raben, Flemming Enevold Torsten Jarnvig, Morten Suurballe Lennart Brix, Mikael Birkkjær Ulrik Strange, Carsten Bjørnlund Christian Søgaard, Lotte Andersen Ruth Hedeby, Kurt Ravn Gert Grue Eriksen, Jens Jacob Tychsen Erling Krabbe, Tobias Krohn Jonas Rabe, Igor Radosavljevic Said Bilal