Tuned In: 'Killing' onto a new case, but can it fix plot flubs?

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AMC's "The Killing" has been through the wringer: Critically acclaimed at its premiere in April 2011, then critically derided by the end of its first season as the red herrings piled up, then abandoned in large numbers by viewers in its second season. "The Killing" was canceled last year only to be resurrected by AMC earlier this year.

Now promoted with a simple, wipe-the-books clean slogan -- "New Case" -- "The Killing" (8 p.m. Sunday, AMC) returns with its two lead characters -- Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) -- intact but just about all of the supporting cast is new. The story of a mayoral candidate has been jettisoned and although Linden's son, Jack (Liam James), makes an appearance, he's now just visiting his mom and is living full-time with his father in Chicago.

As the new season begins, Linden is seemingly more content and less haunted in her personal life -- she's dating a much younger guy -- but her professional life has taken a backward step as she works on a ferry.

Holder has a new partner at work and at home. And he's looking much more professional and cleaned up, due, probably in no small part, to dating an assistant district attorney (Jewel Staite, "Firefly").

Sunday's two-hour premiere sets up a two-pronged story that seems likely to merge. Holder and his new partner get called in to investigate the murder of a teen runaway and Holder begins to think the circumstances are reminiscent of a case Linden worked years earlier whose convicted perpetrator, Ray Seward (Peter Sarsgaard), is now on death row.

Holder visits Linden to ask about that old case, prompting her to warn him, "Not every victim's worth it. You start caring and you'll end up like me -- working minimum wage on a ferry."

But it's not long before Linden finds herself sucked back into Holder's murder case, waltzing into taped-off crime scenes and wandering, unescorted, through the bowels of the Seattle police department. It's too soon to say if the show will again employ a bounty of red herrings, but the show's penchant for plot holes persists.

One area where "The Killing" definitely improves is its use of a deeper Pacific Northwest aesthetic. Yes, there are still many rain-soaked scenes, but the show also spends a lot of time with homeless youth -- aka gutter punks -- a cohort Holder's victim was a part of. One of the kids is a butch lesbian, Bullet (Bex Taylor-Klaus), who pines for a friend, Lyric (Julia Stone), who is dating a wannabe actor/model, Twitch (Max Fowler). "The Killing" does a pretty good job with its depiction of this real-life Seattle subculture. The show also pays homage to Washington's new marriage equality law by showing Linden in attendance at the nuptials of her mother figure, Regi (Annie Corley), and her wife.

Of course, as colorful as the show's new characters or backdrops may be, they ultimately matter little. On a serialized police drama, it's really all about the case and its twists and turns and how the characters develop (or don't develop). AMC sent only two episodes for review, so it's too soon to say whether "The Killing" will make amends for its past missteps -- or just continue to make the same plot mistakes with a new cast in a new case.

ABC's 'Mistresses'

Searching for a trashy/crazy summer series? Look no further than ABC's "Mistresses" (10 p.m. Monday, WTAE), an American remake of a British soap. The first episode begins with a sex scene and ends with a sex scene, and there are a few sex scenes in between.

Savi (Alyssa Milano) hits a bump in her marriage to Harry (Brett Tucker) when they try to conceive a child and his sperm have motility issues. He gets all grumpy, she shows off her undergarments to a co-worker at her law firm. Hey, we all grieve in different ways.

Savi's sister, Joss (Jes Macallan), has no interest in a long-term relationship while their best friend, April (Rochelle Aytes), a recent widow, thinks her dead husband's ghost is making prank calls to her home.

Another friend, Karen (Yunjin Kim, "Lost"), is a therapist who slept with a dying patient and now the dead man's son is hitting on her.

Tawdry but lacking a spirit of fun, "Mistresses" strives to be a guilty pleasure, but it's more likely to induce guilt than pleasure.

Of local note

Cable channel Destination America has been celebrating carnivores with "Meat Week," including a "United States of Bacon" episode at 10:30 tonight that brings the show to Pittsburgh for visits to Market Square's Winghart's Burgers and Whiskey Bar, Shadyside's Harris Grill and the North Side's Penn Brewery.

Two new PBS pledge productions from Pittsburgh-based producer/co-host T.J. Lubinsky premiere this weekend on WQED: Whoopi Goldberg hosts "My Music: '70s and '80s Soul Rewind" (8 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 p.m. Sunday) featuring archival performances by Marvin Gaye and Isaac Hayes, and Robert Wagner hosts "My Music: Burt Bacharach's Best" (9 p.m. Sunday).

Green Tree's Gary Guy Mathews, who attempted to have his name changed to Boomer the Dog in 2010, will be featured on National Geographic Channel's "Taboo USA" at 10 p.m. Tuesday.

HLN's "Raising America" (noon today) will update a story CNN International began covering two years ago about human trafficking. This week Jeffrey W. Herschell of Washington County, whose crimes were detailed in CNN International's "The Fighters," was sentenced to 12 years in prison after federal prosecutors said he sent money oversees to watch an online video of child pornography. "The Fighters" will re-air this weekend on CNN International: Part I airs at 4 a.m., 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday; Part II airs at 10 p.m. Saturday and 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. Sunday.

Canceled and renewed

A&E will end its series "Intervention" after five more episodes air beginning at 9 p.m. June 13.

Comedy Central renewed new comedy "Inside Amy Schumer" for a 10-episode second season to air in 2014.

ABC Family's "Melissa & Joey" received an order for additional third season episodes and has been renewed for a fourth season.

Channel surfing

Rob Lowe ("Parks and Recreation") will play President John F. Kennedy and Ginnifer Goodwin will be Jacqueline Kennedy in National Geographic Channel's "Killing Kennedy" movie. ... CNN has hired Canadian talk show host George Stroumboulopoulos to host a self-titled Friday night talk show debuting at 10 p.m. June 9. ... Six unaired episodes of canceled midseason CW drama "Cult" will air in two-hour blocks for three weeks beginning at 8 p.m. June 28. ... Morgan Spurlock will host a new CNN weekend series, "Inside Man," beginning with an episode on the medical marijuana industry at 10 p.m. June 23. ... Fox reality chief Mike Darnell, the man responsible for "American Idol," "Joe Millionaire" and "When Animals Attack," has announced he'll leave the company in June when his contract is up. ... Spike TV will offer coverage from the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo (AKA E3) beginning June 10. ... GMC, formerly Gospel Music Channel, changes its name to UP on Saturday. ... Amazon.com has ordered two of its streaming comedy pilots to series: John Goodman's "Alpha House" and the Silicon Valley sitcom "Betas." Amazon also ordered three children's series, including "Creative Galaxy" from the New York-based "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" executive producer Angela Santomero. ... "Big Brother: After Dark" will air on TVGN (formerly TV Guide Network) seven nights a week, midnight-2 a.m., beginning June 26. ... Fox Business Channel (Channel 106 in traditional Comcast areas and Channel 209 on former Adelphia systems; Channel 821 HD on all Comcast systems) has moved to Comcast's digital starter tier, making it more widely available than in its previous home on the digital preferred tier.

Tuned In online

Today's TV Q&A column responds to questions about "Vegas," "Orphan Black" and "Doc Martin." This week's Tuned In Journal includes a review of the new season of "Arrested Development" and posts on "Mike & Molly" and "Treehouse Masters." Read online-only TV content at post-gazette.com/tv.

This week's podcast includes conversation about "Smash," "The Office" and "Arrow." Subscribe or listen at http://old.post-gazette.com/podcast.

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TV writer Rob Owen: rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook for breaking TV news.


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