Monday, April 4, 2011

Why Did "The Killing" Start off So Damn Slow?

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Let me just start this off by saying that the second hour of AMC's new show, The Killing, wasn't so bad. The second episode, which I think was called "The Cage" or something like that according to my DVR, picked up toward the end and leads one to believe that this is a story that may be going somewhere. But that first episode. God, that first episode was torture!

But my question is this? Why is the first episode of any show ever boring? As a writer, it's constantly hammered into my head in seminars that the first chapter, nay, the first PAGE, is essential for getting the audience to stick around. So why does TV neglect this so often? Another AMC show, Rubicon had such a terrible first episode that even when my friends kept telling me, "The show got better, Rich. The show got better," I kept telling them, "There's no way in HELL I'm going to watch that garbage, guys. That first episode was balls."

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Is it any wonder that the show only lasted one season? They lost me at hello.

That said, please don't think that I hate shows that aren't filled with explosives or special affects as I really don't mind if a show has a slow burn. I mean, just look at Twin Peaks for instance. That show and this new one pretty much have the same exact premise: Some white girl gets murdered, and now, the whole town is suspect. I get it. But here's where David Lynch's old show succeeded in its pilot where The Killing kind of failed. Twin Peaks offered something bizarre. Now, I'm not saying that ALL shows have to offer something offbeat for their first episode, but that's what separated Twin Peaks instantly from other detective stories of a similar nature. It was just so weird, from the music, to the camera shots, to everything. Watch:

But The Killing doesn't have any of that, and though it looks like the show is going to invest its time in showing us all of the characters, none of them really seem all that interesting besides that one skeevy detective who swallows his words and offers children marijuana to find new information. Him, I like.

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Overall, though, The Killing starts out slow and it drags. I've talked to some people this morning who liked it and they said that it's really meant to be slow and that I was wrong to hate on it just because it was putting me to sleep. Well, okay, I can see that if you like it, it's okay to defend it. But why am I wrong for hating that it put me to sleep? What's wrong with quick pacing anyway? Some people make it seem like it's a bad thing, especially for a first episode where the characters are just getting established. But look at Breaking Bad, which is another AMC show that is so good that I'll pretty much give anything on AMC a shot. The pacing for that first episode is unbelievable. There's never a slow moment in it.

Sure, the premise is WAY different for that show, and The Killing is meant to be slow paced. But slow paced doesn't necessarily mean that it has to drag, and The Killing definitely does, at least for the first episode anyway. But I don't know. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think it's okay for a first episode to drag? Please leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

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