Gracepoint vs. The Killing: Why Gracepoint is the Better Show
Take a pair of TV mysteries, both adapted from successful European shows. One plot involves the death of a 17-year-old girl, the other involves a 12-year-old boy. Both programs explore the subject of secrets, especially the dark kind that can get people killed. Add a dash of police procedural and a few unsettling moments of Twin Peaks creepiness and what do you get?
You get one show, Gracepoint, that rises above the similarities to deliver a more satisfying viewing experience than its would-be analogue, The Killing.
Mired in Murkiness
The Killing gets off to a strong start. The story of Seattle police detectives Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder struggling their way through a complex murder investigation is undeniably gripping – at least at the outset. Unfortunately, the case takes so many twists and turns that it becomes almost impossible to follow.
The trail of the Rosie Larsen investigation meanders its way into political intrigue, the checkered past of Rosie’s family, Holder’s struggle with sobriety and Linden’s trumped-up banishment to a mental health facility. Don’t forget about the shooting that leaves mayoral candidate/potential suspect Darren Richmond partially paralyzed.
As the conspiracies mounted, many viewers probably got exhausted. Maybe they got tired of the murky cinematography and its sickly green undertones. At any rate, the show was canceled and revived twice before Netflix optioned a fourth and final (and disappointing) season.
All in all, The Killing was a tragic waste of talent – particularly in the case of actors Mireille Enos, Brent Sexton and Eric Laden.
Gracepoint Keeps Its Eye on the Ball
The murder of Danny Solano leaves the fictional California town of Gracepoint searching for answers, but nobody wants answers more than newly arrived homicide detective Emmett Carver. With native Ellie Miller as his reluctant guide, Carver throws himself into the investigation. They soon discover that almost everyone in the seemingly idyllic community has something to hide, including young Danny.
David Tennant, reprising his role from the original UK series, manages to make Carver acerbic and likable at the same time. His mismatched partner, played by Anna Gunn of Breaking Bad fame, imbues Miller with a bit of steel under the outer softness. The actors have the privilege of working with well-crafted scripts that deliver plot twists at precisely the right moments.
The fact that Gracepoint has a limited run gives it a built-in advantage over similar shows. Working within the constraints of 10 episodes virtually guarantees that the scripts will stay focused and the pace will stay crisp. At least that’s the case after the first few episodes.
So far, Gracepoint has remained surefooted where The Killing stumbled. Fans of the new Fox drama are certainly looking forward to seeing where the road leads Carver and Miller, and enjoying the journey.