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The Killing (Forbrydelsen)

One of the few good things about never going out at the weekend is BBC4 and Scandanavian cop shows. For years the channel has been treating middle aged parents to Wallander; a rambling detective show with a lovable central character, a mildly psychotic set of villains and some A grade landcapes and interior design. (Presumably middle class Ystad’s property prices have suffered due to the Baghdad like murder rate.)

Last night the channel introduced us to The Killing (Danish Forbrydelsen), a cop show set in Copenhagen.

All the usual Norse crime stuff is here: lots of blood, a chase scene through a wood, sexual deviancy, a central character with a reasonably complex private life, really murderous villains, teenagers in schools, the dark underbelly of a well adjusted social democracy. But The Killing is different. And better.

While Wallender is a comfortable, relatively humorous watch (the plots invariably descend into murderous farce), The Killing is slick and professional. The series is about just one murder (in 20 episodes of Wallender you’d probably reach three figures), the atmosphere brilliantly evoked (it’s always night and raining in Copenhagen, a city glimpsed through rain spattered car windows) and the plot a tightly spun web of murder and politics.

Sofie Gråbøl as Sarah Lund is great: understated and quietly humorous (there’s a lovely role reversal scene where her partner calls to discuss decorating their sauna) — and I found that seeing the plot through the eyes of a woman makes made me respond differently to events.

The programme it most reminds me of is The Wire; it’s very American in its professionalism, and it seems to know how good it is: There are lots of jokes at Sweden’s expense_._ Perhaps there’s some Nordic competitiveness going on here. _The Killing _is a clear winner.