Seattle Police Department goes Hollywood

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Photo Credit: Chris Large/AMC

By Michael Harthorne

They say sunlight is the best disinfectant. And, what is sunlight if not just one big, glaring spotlight? Ladies and gentlemen, amidst scandals and a Department of Justice investigation, the Seattle Police Department is going Hollywood.

“The Killing” debuted on AMC last Sunday. The show, based on a Danish smash hit, follows two SPD homicide detectives as they attempt to solve the murder of a young girl.
 
According to SPD, a number of its employees worked with the production company providing technical assistance.
 
It’s up for debate whether or a not a TV show centered around the department will have a positive, negative or negligible (it is basic cable, after all) effect on the department’s reputation in Seattle and elsewhere. But, based on what I’ve seen of “The Killing” so far, it is fair to say it won’t always portray SPD in the most positive light.
 
“As the series unfolds, it becomes clear that there are no accidents; everyone has a secret, and while the characters think they’ve moved on, their past isn’t done with them,” reads the synopsis on AMCTV.com.
 
Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) plays a new SPD homicide detective. Throughout the first episode, Holder goes about business like an internal investigation waiting to happen. He invades personal space, gets combative with interview subjects and shows an unhealthy interest in the sex lives of high school students.
 
On the other hand, he is partnered with Det. Sarah Linden (Mirelle Enos), the show’s lead. She is calm, by-the-book and hard to picture stomping on the head of a handcuffed suspect or plastered on the signs of anarchists as they smash windows on Capitol Hill. Plus, she has the Seattle skin tone down pat.
 
Speaking of the show’s representation the city, it’s hit and miss. There are some nice touches: the 12th Man flag flying over the Space Needle, crushing gray skies in flyover shots of the city, and the owner of a Ballard moving company looking like he would fit right in working the salmon smoker next to Ballard Oil’s Warren Aakervik at next Seafood Fest.
 
But, I couldn’t help being distracted by this fictionalized Seattle, which is mostly comprised of Vancouver locales. Now maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t remember Discovery Park ever being “overrun by tweekers” after dark. Nor have I ever seen the view from City Hall that places it in what appears to be a quaint Alaskan inlet.
 
Which brings me to the most jarring representation of our fair city in “The Killing”: that of its politicians and politics. Billy Campbell (aka The Rocketeer) plays Seattle City Council President and mayoral hopeful Darren Richmond. Now, all apologies to Richard Conlin, but Richmond is far too handsome for council president.
 
But, there’s more. During strategy sessions for the mayoral race, it’s all gangs this and scheming that, with nary a mention of bicycles, tunnels or glass museums. These are the issues politics in Seattle are made of.
 
Also, (spoiler alert) Richmond is implicated in the murder of the young girl when her body is found in the trunk of a car belonging to his office. I can’t imagine Sally Clark, Jean Godden or even Nick Licata getting caught in that situation (though I am having fun picturing it).
 
In the end, “The Killing” really wasn’t my thing (too little Alec Baldwin), though I’ll probably catch a few more episodes just to enjoy Seattle’s 15 minutes in the Hollywood spotlight.
 
But don’t worry if fiction isn’t your thing, the Seattle Police Department recently filmed footage for a new reality show on MTV, home of “Jersey Shore.” Bring on the disinfectant.

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