People love TV shows about violent crime. Maybe it's because it's easy to relate to. Who among us hasn't killed somebody or spent 42 minutes, minus commercials, gathering enough forensic evidence to build a case against a murderer?
Unlike the endless variations of Law and Order and CSI or, for that matter, Quincy reruns, The Killing isolates the murder investigation of a 17-year-old girl and explores the concomitant mystery with methodical attention to familial grief and puzzling police procedure.
It's intriguing, well-acted and rife with dark atmosphere--both in terms of theme and Seattle-clouded cinematography.
But it's probably best to wait until The Killing comes out on DVD because you can watch only a couple of recent episodes at a time online. Plus, it's meticulously serialized, the kind of show that doesn't quite work if you jump in and start watching it out of order. It would be like watching random episodes of Lost and wondering how a group of people who crash-landed somewhere in the Pacific Ocean are moving a magic island through time and space by freeing a subterranean donkey wheel from ice-locked dormancy.
The Killing is grounded in hard realism--assuming your version of the world is a place in which it's plausible for metropolitan cops to spend all of their time investigating a murder and, after half a season, narrow the suspects down to 23 people, including everyone from the victim's ex-boyfriend to the mayor and most of his staff.
Again, for the most part, the show is realistic, but it's admittedly been a while since we've heard about one of those crazy-ass-teenage-girl-killing mayors.