An Open Letter To AMC’s The Killing

Dear AMC’s The Killing,

Hi! How are you? First let me just say that I am still on board with you. I know I teased you last week about some of your inconsistencies, but the truth is that I love a good, convoluted police procedural with top notes of Twin Peaks, and you are definitely a good, convoluted police procedural with top notes of Twin Peaks. It’s hard to believe that we’re only in day three since Rosie Larson was murdered! So many leads to follow. Everyone is a suspect. Trust no one. Yes! Also, congrats on casting what has to be the creepiest looking teenager I’ve ever seen in the role of Jasper Ames. That kid. Serious case of Yikes Face on that one.

OK, now that I have complimented you and pointed out some of the things that you are doing well, thereby building your self-esteem and softening the blow of any criticism I might have, can we talk about something that’s really been bothering me?


Excuse me. I’m sorry. I’m just upset. Could you please explain to me what is going on with your sound engineer? Because, uh, you are a very fancy cable TV show with a huge cast and an outstanding pedigree, you’ve got very high production values and were largely shot on location, and yet the audio is so muddy and dim and overcrowded that I cannot hear a single thing that anyone is saying most of the time. Let’s take last night’s episode for instance: right in one of the very first scenes in which the two detectives, Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder, are approaching the school custodian’s apartment to question him about “the cage,” the ambient sound of passing cars was louder than the dialog. Why? That’s incorrect. Similarly, later in the episode, the two detectives arrive at a scene in the rain and THE RAIN is louder than the dialog. WHAT IS EVEN GOING ON HERE?

Let me point out, if I may, that while dialog is intrinsically important to most television programs–with the exception of Jacques Tati’s Chuckle Hut–it’s PARTICULARLY important in convoluted police procedurals with top notes of Twin Peaks. The entire plot can hinge on the half-whispered revelations of a hospital patient, much less an expository conversation between two police detectives. We need to be able to hear what is going on so that we can follow along with your show. Sorry, I know that sounds kind of obvious and I don’t mean to condescend, but apparently this is all news to you, so I guess I do mean to.

GET IT TOGETHER, THE KILLING! I’m willing to accept Joel Kinnaman’s weird, outdated performance where he dresses like an undercover NARC from 1998 and says things like “Yo, kid, you overhear who is getting smacked on crank these days while you’ve been slanging on the flippity-flop? That shiznit is off the chain.” I’m willing to overlook the fact that somehow everything on this show is just kind of…wrong, as if it was directed by someone who got all of their directing techniques by reading a TV recap on TelevisionWithoutPity.

But I will not overlook an inability to understand what everyone is saying. Clean it up, dude! You’ve got at least a million dollars!

Gabe’s Ears