Tuned In: 'The Killing'

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Diving back into AMC's "The Killing" (8 tonight) offers a quick reminder of producers' missteps in season one.

It's a bridge too far to claim that "The Killing" broke a sacred trust with the audience by not wrapping up the murder of Rosie Larsen at the end of season one. (No trust was broken; such suggestions are based on faulty assumptions.)

But the failure to resolve the Larsen murder makes it hard for newcomers to jump into the show midstream at the start of season two, and barriers to entry are not wise if a TV show hopes to grow its audience. If the second season began with a new murder investigation, the show would be less impenetrable for newcomers.

'The Killing'

When: 8 tonight, AMC.

Starring: Joel Kinnamen and Mireille Enos.

As season one ended, viewers learned cadaverously pale Seattle homicide Det. Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) had been tricked into accusing Seattle mayoral candidate Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) of murder by her partner, stoner-voiced Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnamen, the show's breakout star in season one). After Richmond's arrest, the politician was targeted by Larsen family friend Belko Royce (Brendan Sexton III). Rosie's mom, Mitch (Michelle Forbes, "True Blood"), left home.

Season two begins moments later with Royce under arrest and Richmond on his way to the hospital after being shot at point-blank range -- his top political operatives, Jamie (Eric Ladin) and Gwen (Kristin Lehman), are in shock. Linden rushes to tell Lt. Oakes (Garry Chalk) about Holder's deception. And Mitch remains MIA through tonight's two-hour, rain-soaked (of course!) premiere.

It's already been confirmed that Rosie Larsen's killer won't be revealed until near the end of season two so don't go into tonight's premiere expecting any big revelations. However, by the end of the episode viewers will have a better understanding of Holder's motivations and Richmond's prognosis.

Those answers assure viewers that the writers know there are high expectations among disappointed first-season fans. But the premiere also depicts some of the same maddeningly awful police work that marred season one. The Seattle PD looks like the Keystone Kops at times. And that's not counting newly planted evidence and a district attorney with an unexplained, random Scandinavian accent (perhaps a nod to the original Danish series "The Killing" is based on?).

Last season, based on the stark pilot and its presence on "Mad Men" network AMC, there was an expectation "The Killing" would be something more substantial than a soapy murder mystery. It's not. Once viewers accept it for the mediocre melodrama it is, they'll be more satisfied, tuning in for the strong performances and high production values while rolling their eyes at the umpteenth red herring and illogical plot turn.

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Rob Owen writes this Sunday TV column for Scripps Howard News Service. Contact him at: rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Read the Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook.


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