Tuesday 8 May 2012

Sarah Lund bows out... sadly

We all have our secret pleasures and so do I, if only it was still secret! When the Danish television series 'The Killing' hit the British screens, it became an instant hit with the viewing public. Sarah Lund, the slightly dysfunctional Danish detective is shortly returning to the screens with the third and last series. You can imagine I am sitting on the edge of my seat already!

Whilst I share this pleasure now with millions of people, it is hard to say exactly what it is that is so fascinating about 'The Killing'. All episodes are filmed in a perpetually rainy and gloomy Denmark and the lead character does not strike you exactly as the most approachable and amiable person. But perhaps that is the key to the success and to the appeal Sarah Lund has across the audiences in Europe. The Danish producers have created a who-dunnit that draws on Danish realism as much as it champions atmospherical mystery.

Sarah Lund in that famous sweater

As the main character, detective Sarah Lund, investigates a murder case, wandering through a vision of Danish society where grey is the predominant colour. Figures that appear black or white quickly dissolve into characters without sharp contours, leaving the viewer hoping for some firm ground.

Yet this refusal to paint social affairs in stark contrasts is perhaps the most appealing feature of 'The Killing'. There are plenty of crime series on TV, from CSI to Columbo, but few achieve the level of realistic sophistication that 'The Killing' offers.

One advantage the Danish producers have over other crime TV series is time. It takes time to explore the depths and shallows of human conduct and the series of 'The Killing' has plenty of it. Where conventional who-dunnits have to wrap up the murder in one episode, Sarah Lund had 20 episodes to solve one in the first series. With each episode lasting one hour, that is a lot of investigative time offering a lot of opportunities to lead the viewers up the garden path!

Wherever the last series will take her, when Sarah Lundt will finally hang up the gun and get rid of her famous jumper in the last and third series, I will miss her dearly.

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