August 3, 2014

TV review: ‘The Killing' stumbles through life on Netflix

The summer of unending TV series premieres continues with the return of former AMC drama “The Killing,” back for its final six episodes, available only on Netflix streaming.

The summer of unending TV series premieres continues with the return of former AMC drama “The Killing,” back for its final six episodes, available only on Netflix streaming.

When season three of “The Killing” ended on AMC, Detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) had murdered her boss/former lover Lt. James Skinner once she discovered he was the Pied Piper serial killer responsible for the deaths of multiple teenagers.

Season four picks up with Linden showering the bloody evidence off herself, mopping up the crime scene and plotting a cover-up with partner Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman).

Linden also maintains her title as TV’s Most Morose Cop to the point that she almost gives away the cover-up to a colleague who notes, “What’s wrong with Linden? She smiled at me!”

While this surely feels like a chickens-coming-home-to-roost season – Linden has become the kind of lawless monster she pursues – there’s one more case to work before the somber homicide detective gets caught.

A wealthy family turns up dead in their shoreline mansion with only one son, Kyle Stansbury (Tyler Ross), surviving. Did he murder his parents and siblings? Or is Col. Margaret Rayne (Joan Allen), the chilly headmaster at Kyle’s all-boys military academy, somehow involved?

Fans of this hit-or-miss crime serial – and of Linden and Holder, in particular – may want to stream these final episodes just to see what kind of miserable state the show leaves poor Linden in, but “The Killing” long ago ceased to be required viewing for cultural currency. (That ship sailed after the non-ending that failed to wrap up the first season.)

Grammer returns in ‘Partners’

Kelsey Grammer (“Frasier,” “Boss”) makes his TV return with FX’s “Partners” (9 and 9:30 p.m. Monday), another comedy that follows the 10/90 business model: Producers make 10 episodes, and if they reach a certain ratings threshold, then FX automatically orders another 90.

As with past series that follow this business plan, Charlie Sheen’s “Anger Management” and George Lopez’s “Saint George,” the prospect of 100 half-hours of “Partners” is pretty unwelcome, although it’s slightly less painful a notion than dozens of episodes of those previous shows.

Let’s briefly consider the fate of past sitcoms titled “Partners”: There was the 1995-96 “Partners” on Fox, which deserved a second season, and the 2012-13 CBS “Partners,” which stole much of the premise from the Fox show and was quickly canceled, which is what it deserved.

This latest “Partners” on FX stars Grammer as high-end lawyer Allen Braddock, who gets fired by his father from the family law firm for reasons unrevealed and winds up in business with ethically upstanding attorney Marcus Jackson (Martin Lawrence), who operates a Chicago storefront law practice.

“Partners” is your basic odd couple comedy, with Grammer attacking his part with his trademark zeal and Lawrence wandering through the motions in somnambulant fashion. It’s a stark energy contrast, but a secondary problem for “Partners,” which mostly stumbles on predictable plotting that flows from pedestrian writing.

“Partners” does benefit from the work of its supporting players, including TV veteran Telma Hopkins (“Family Matters”) as Marcus’ mom and newcomer Rory O’Malley as Marcus’ paralegal. But without good writing, even winning performances can’t help “Partners” feel like it would be a better fit among the 1990s throwback sitcoms that pass for original programming on TV Land.

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