AMC's Charlie Collier on Reviving 'The Killing'
The Killing is adapted from a Danish series. It was a familiar genre—crime—but a different approach. And The Killing pilot, which aired in 2011, was really one of the best hours of TV that year—you didn’t just watch it, you felt it. I have four children, and what you quickly learn is that they’re all individuals. No matter what the programming opportunity, I don’t compare it to Mad Men or Breaking Bad because that wouldn’t be fair.
Our ratings were strong in the first season, but the finale disappointed many fans. We didn’t solve the crime like we advertised we would, and we underestimated the viewers’ passion for closure. If I could change anything about how we handled the show, it’s that I would have managed fan expectations for season one differently.
There are so many metrics for success in television nowadays. In season two we saw the ratings decline slightly, but we also heard from our partners in the video-on-demand community that [the show] was doing incredibly well for them. But there was a loss in momentum, and we have to make sure we run a good program model and a good business model. In the end it came down to time and money, and we decided we had to cancel it.
Shows get canceled and people move on, but there are lots of ideas that don’t take off right away, and that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t ever realize their full potential. Our fondness for the talent behind The Killing really never left us, even after we canceled it.
In the TV world, you’ve got the owners of the content, the studio, and in this case that’s FTVS [Fox Television Studios]. The studio is most concerned with exploiting the rights they hold, and the network is most concerned with exploiting the rights we hold, which include the right to distribute it to our affiliates and, of course, to our ad sales team and the audience. FTVS thought The Killing deserved a next season and to live on creatively, and we were able to come to an arrangement with them that met both of our long- and short-term needs. It’s rare to have that happen, and to me it’s a point of pride that we could continue the conversation.
So far the reaction to bringing it back has been positive. And the good news about how season two ended is that it closed the Rosie Larsen mystery, so whether you’re a fan or not you’ll be able to jump right back in. It’s a new case and a new start. For everyone. — As told to Emma Rosenblum