The Killing (Channel 4)
Not since Geoffrey on Rainbow wore a perturbing pullover so vivid that it frightened the five-year-old me, have I been so spellbound by knitwear on television. But the chunky Faroese jumper sported by Sarah Lund in the original Danish version of The Killing (Forbrydelsen), broadcast on BBC 4 earlier this year, was a silent star of the show. Imagine my relief then when Sarah Linden, her American reincarnation, strode through Seattle in a similarly sturdy garment.
Beyond their similar dress sense, Lund and Linden obviously share a lot of similarities. The US take on The Killing begins from the same starting point: the brutal murder of a young girl. Transferring the setting to Seattle works well with its grey, rain-splattered vistas providing as oppressive a backdrop as the dark, dingey Copenhagen of the original.
Comparing the US remake to its Danish inspiration is ultimately a bit of waste of time, though. The Killing was a hit by BBC Four standards and earned itself acres of press coverage, especially from The Guardian, as a kind of spiritual European successor to The Wire. But that audience was still pretty small and subtitles understandably put plenty of people off. Showing this version of The Killing on a terrestrial channel will draw in a far bigger audience.
Judged as a stand-alone show without putting every performance in a petri dish beside its Danish equivalent, The Killing is a gripping crime drama. Mireille Enos is quiet and contained as Linden, doing a lot with the smallest of gestures. Her intended replacement and de facto partner Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) is mesmerising - twitchy, tattooed and unpleasantly blunt as when he asks the murdered girl's teacher "was anyone hitting that?"
Compared to the hyperkinetic approach of mainstream American crime shows like CSI or Law & Order, The Killing is positively glacial. At times it can feel like watching a grandfather putting together an unusually horrific jigsaw, with details being filled in at the corners and edges not making much sense at first. The whole of episode one built towards the discovery of Rosie Larsen's body, with a local politician pulled into the frame at the very last moment.
For viewers who were glued to the Danish series on BBC Four, The Killing could initially feel like a long game of spot the difference, but rest assured, as the series goes on, the case forks off in new directions and the nagging sense of deja vu wears off. The strength of the performances and quality of the writing should keep fans and newcomers on board for at least the first few episodes.
The Apprentice (BBC One)
Wednesday's instalment of The Apprentice was the high point of the series so far but sadly yet another low for the collective intelligence of humanity. After surviving for weeks purely on inflated promises, naked aggression and a stash of industrial-strength makeup to apply her Ming the Merciless eyebrows, Melody was finally fired. As she was sent home to continue her mission to spread democracy through out and out rudeness, It was like watching a statue of a tyrant topple.
This week's task was explained by Lord Sugar in a manner so simple, it was one step above handing out specially produced picture books for each of the contestants to refer to, sort of See Spot Run A Business From The Back Of A Ford Transit. Gathering them in a warehouse, he gave each team a pile of stock and told them to discover what sold best, then to reinvest their earnings in more of the same. That said, he may have confused them by his repeated insistence that they should "smell what sells".
The stand out moments included the Breakfast Of The Long Knives where Helen unsuccessfully attempted to wrest control of her team from Melody, and Tom's disproportionate pride at selling three nodding dogs that mimicked his own unconscious head bobbing. We also witnessed the unedifying spectacle of two grown women trying to sell £50 watches to a pound shop. Meanwhile, Susan snoozed happily in her people carrier after going door to door in Chelsea hawking brown bed linen.
Lord Sugar was so disgusted by the equally dismal performances put in by both sides that he slapped a £100 fine on Natasha's team, though that may actually have just been a punishment for her repeated use of the word "operationally". When they still won, he cancelled THE TREAT. In the world of The Apprentice, that's up there with being sent to bed with no dinner.
With Melody's reign of terror at an end, we're left with this season's final five: Susan (a toddler trapped in an adult human's body), Natasha (with all the grace of a bully from a 1970s Grange Hill episode), Tom (Michael Sheen starring in a live action Thunderbirds movie), Jim (charming if you'd consider a piranha wearing a top hat charming) and Helen (who only seems human thanks to the sheer idiocy that surrounds her).
Next week, the teams are tasked with opening a new fast food restaurant. On the back of their previous efforts with dog food and biscuits, we can only hope there's a team of environmental health experts in full hazard suits standing by to deal with the consequences.
Watch this weekend
The Kennedys, 9pm, BBC2
The "Diamond" Joe Quimby impersonators' convention has nearly reached its conclusion but, despite the bad Boston accents and Katie Holmes' rickety performance as Jackie, this week's double bill is worth catching. After hours of set up we've finally reached the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK's dalliance with Marilyn Monroe and that fateful day in Dallas.
Secrets of the Pop Song, 9.45pm, BBC2
By rights, the combination of Guy Chambers and Mark Ronson should make for toxic television. Chambers deserves to be cast into some dank dungeon for forcing the syrupy strains of Angels on the world and Ronson bedevilled the charts with so many horns it was practically a biblical plague. But watching the pair explain how to put together a pop hit makes for really compelling viewing. Honest.
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