As Grantland has previously pointed out, it's actually not so mind-boggling why AMC would bring back The Killing for a third season. Despite the hair-pulling, eyeball-popping revulsion with which the first season's ending was greeted, and the general "wanna watch The Killing or this leftover episode of Cash Cab I've had on the DVR for three years?" indifference with which the second season was greeted, the show was still a known entity with serviceable actors (one of whom, tall glass of Swedish water Joel Kinnaman — your new RoboCop — may yet become a movie star), a workable formula, and, if not exactly good ratings, then not exactly the most insanely terrible ratings, either. That said, now it's time to tackle another Killer question: Why did Peter Sarsgaard just sign up for Season 3?
In the convenient binary of television fandom, network suits are always the enemy, the menacing smoke monsters looking to undermine and destroy the hopeful survivors who have managed to wash up on the broadcast shore. (In this analogy, critics are the polar bears: good at hanging around the action, bad at staying involved in it.) But the reality — reality reality, not Reality reality — is more complicated. Putting a series into production is an enormous expense: Contracts are signed, scripts are written, sets are built, attachments are made. Like all businessmen, those in the executive suites want to wring whatever return is possible out of such large investments. That’s why, unlike in film (where bombs detonate completely upon arrival), all but the most disastrous shows are given multiple opportunities to succeed, be it via rescheduling, recasting or, a personal favorite, “reimagining."
Actually, if we're being totally honest, we come here to lock The Killing in the trunk of a campaign vehicle, send the show rolling slowly into a lake, unaware of its muffled cries as it tries to claw its way to the freedom of a third season. Maybe we'll even force it to wear oversize, soggy sweaters, shoot it in the spine, and tearfully demand it reenter the mayoral race after a recovery period that would make Lazarus exhausted, or dispatch it on repeated wild-goose chases to an Indian casino run by seeming thugs with no regard for mainland law enforcement.
You may have assumed The Killing was destined for early termination ever since its first season finale (a.k.a., "Who killed Rosie Larsen? Tune in next year to find out!") so gracelessly pulled the rug out from underneath us. But with its second season now wrapped up — yep, they did reveal the mystery this time; I won't give it away here, in case you're not all caught up with your hate-watching for the week [Editor's note: for a more in-depth, spoilery look at the final episode, check out Andy Greenwald's excellent postmortem here] — AMC is now considering a third season, which would feature main cops Joel Kinnaman and Mireille Enos working a new homicide. No, not because the ratings were good enough to shut up all that critical bashing — but because Kinnaman, who plays hoodie-loving Detective Holder, might become a big movie star soon.
With the good Sunday-night shows off the air, it was time for Chris Ryan and me to strap on our galoshes and deal with the bad one: The Killing (1:05) was (mercifully?) killed this past weekend, and I hope you’ll forgive us if we did not speak kindly of the dead. Instead, we spent some time splashing around in the puddles of incoherence that tended to pool around this soggy show and discussing just when the whole world stopped caring about who killed Rosie Larsen. On a happier note, we went back and forth on the generally excellent season finale of Girls (20:55) and the even more exciting new trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master (35:10). After a brief, bottle-tossing detour to discuss Drake’s role in the new 2 Chainz video (41:20) and his allegedly more dangerous involvement in a club brawl with professional villain Chris Brown, we finished with a spirited talk about the latest entrant into the Double Down Book Club, Dennis Lehane (45:10). Like George Pelecanos, Lehane was a staff writer on The Wire and is responsible for novels both fun and punky (A Drink Before the War) and more sweeping and serious (Mystic River). He’s worth a read whether you’re in his native Boston or in Little Boston, drinking milkshakes with Daniel Day-Lewis.
It's all smoke monsters and orange sherbet this week as Chris Ryan and I tackle the twin titans of Sunday-night television, Game of Thrones (1:30) and Mad Men (10:30). But talk of nihilism in Westeros and nostalgia on Madison Avenue eventually gave way to a more zeitgeisty discussion about holograms in the desert. Specifically, what does the rise of Hologram Tupac (22:10) say about our taste in music, our desire to relive our youth, and, as Chris put it, life on the bleeding edge of "Jedi technology"? Put down the LSD, Roger Sterling. We have a stranger trip for you.
This week on the pod, Andy and I put on our big-picture glasses (which happen to look a lot like JR Smith's 3-goggles) and talked about whether the single television episode is still a viable format. With auteurs like David Simon advocating for a more novelistic approach to the making and consuming of the medium, is the tightly constructed, entertaining hour of TV going the way of the Westeros dragons? Through this prism, we take a (decidedly spoiler-free!) look at the packed Sunday-night schedule. We touch on the palace intrigue of Game of Thrones, the anxiety of watching Megan Draper drive on Mad Men, and the special ability The Killing has to get absolutely everything wrong. We wrap things with some chat about the reunion of NBC's signature Thursday-night comedies, the wheezing ratings and poor form of The Office, and the rebirth of HBO comedy with the excellent new Veep. The line forms to the left for Greyjoy family baptisms!
April is the start of television’s playoff season, the month when big-ticket contenders return to reclaim past glories and season-long survivors attempt to finish out the year strong. So it’s an all-TV edition of the podcast this week as Chris and I go direwolf hunting with Game of Thrones (1:00), kill The Killing (15:40), and attempt to weigh the implications of plus-size Betty Draper (Francis) (Klump) on Mad Men (30:00). We also preview two excellent comedies airing tonight: the season finale of Happy Endings (36:20) and the probable series finale of the excellent, unfairly buried Bent (23:45). Grab some horse meat, Brian Benben. It’s go time.
Back in June, Bill Simmons got out his frustration with The Killing's er, controversial finale. Give it a read before the show returns with its (generally better-reviewed) Season 2 premiere on Sunday and relive the outrage:
If I invited you to my house for dinner tonight, you would come over and expect me to serve you food. Right?
Well, imagine we were having drinks in my living room for two hours. You're looking at your watch. It's 8:30. You don't smell any food. You don't say anything. Another half hour passes. You're on your third drink. You're getting legitimately hungry. You still don't say anything. And then, a half hour later, I stand up as if I'm ready for you to leave. We have this exchange.
It's Joel Kinnaman! The actor, who is big-time in his native Sweden, made his American debut last year on AMC's maligned detective show The Killing, and is now rapidly moving up the ladder: After rumors suggested as much, it was made official over the weekend that Joel will don the suit for the RoboCop remake. This adds to the international bent of the production, as its director is the Brazilian JosÚ Padilha, best known for the bone-crunching Elite Squad, which depicted the hectic face-offs between Rio de Janeiro police and the favela drug lords. And the Irish-German heartthrob Michael Fassbender was originally rumored for RoboCop, too.
Eric Ladin has become a familiar face in the hallowed land of the Sunday Night Respectable Hour-Long Drama. He’s played for both the HBO and AMC teams, appearing on Generation Kill and Big Love, and more notably portraying Betty Draper’s younger brother on Mad Men and landing a supporting role on The Killing as itching-to-get-dirty campaign manager Jamie Wright. Then, on last Tuesday’s episode of Justified, Ladin popped up as a chucklehead Oxycontin addict who doesn’t understand the plea bargain process. And though — !SPOILER ALERT! — it’s unlikely he’ll appear on the show again (unless it's a turn from beeeeeyooond the graaave), it just seems like this dude is everywhere. We got Ladin on the phone while he was up in Vancouver finishing the second season of The Killing, and though he won’t be appearing in the upcoming season of Mad Men, he did explain the hows and whys of developing a career as a television utility player.
It seems like you’ve been showing up in all the hour-long dramas that we pay attention to. How did your acting career progress to this point?
Among other things, Justified is about how one man, a lawman, comes to love and cherish the place he protects and serves. In Season 1, Raylan Givens was a reluctantly returning prodigal son, romancing women he should stay away from, gunning down anyone who gave him the least bit of lip, and taking out his alienation on those around him.
Bruce Willis is negotiating to star in the increasingly weird-seeming G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation as Joe Colton, the original Joe. He'd join Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, and RZA, and be inexplicably directed by Jon M. Chu, the guy who made the Step Up movies and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. Grade: B [HR]
Oren Moverman (The Messenger) is writing and possibly directing The Terrorist Search Engine, a movie based on Wesley Yang's recent New York magazine profile of Evan Kohlmann, a young, Internet-savvy, counter-terrorism expert who earned the nickname "the Doogie Howser of Terrorism" for his testimony leading to the conviction of nearly 24 jihadists. Scott Rudin will produce and Jesse Eisenberg may star ("That's thousand. Twenty-four thousand jihadists"). Grade: A [Deadline]
This morning, AMC Networks — the corporate umbrella that controls AMC (home to your favorite shows Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead, plus Rubicon and The Killing) as well as cable siblings IFC, WeTV, and Sundance — entered a new phase in its recently lauded existence: it became a publicly traded company. While analysts were bullish, the immediate response was bearish. To help sort things out, we at Grantland looked into our financial crystal ball (which we picked up at a CNBC tag sale) to predict AMC’s year ahead on Wall Street. (Which is different from Wall Street’s year on AMC — it’ll still air every Tuesday at 3:30 a.m. and again on Saturday afternoons.)
Do you remember when television was meant to be relaxing? “The Boob Tube,” “The Idiot Box,” and all the other old nicknames you may have stumbled across in Archie comics spoke of TV’s accepted role in the lives of Americans: as background flashing for beer-drinking, end-of-day dozing, and general time-wasting. Things are different now. For one, the television itself has transformed from a flickering, wood-panelled brick into a sexy sliver of space-age electronics, wired into a thousand entertainment streams at any given moment. But what’s also changed is the programming and, more important, the way we interact with it.