TV Preview: The Killing Field

The Killing Field: TV1, 8.30 Sunday


By Doug Coutts

Spoiler alert – this time there’s only one killing field and for budgetary reasons we’re in New South Wales not Cambodia. There aren’t as many dead people but there is one crazed megalomaniacal serial killer on the loose.

Even during the pre-titles sequence when they’re letting us know who the victim is going to be, they’re seeding more red herrings than a Soviet fish market. But that’s the way murder mysteries go – without a townful of suspects, there’s not going to be much for the hero cop to do.

The hero cop in this instance is Rebecca Gibney, already a dab hand at sensing murder. She’s seen too much in her years on this force and has taken a desk job in Sydney. But one missing person ends up as a field’s worth of discovered dead bodies and solving the case is beyond the local plods, so Bex has to strap on her sensible footwear and get her hands dirty.

What follows is a perfectly satisfactory mystery drama thriller with an Australian twang. “We won’t ‘ave a formal identification for dies,” says one of the team. “Eef we don’t know who took ‘er, ‘ow’s a buncha strangers from the seety gunna work eed owd?” asks one of the locals.

But work eed owd they do, just as Wallander, Taggart and DCI Tennison have done in the past, with some clever plot twists and turns, a frisson or two due to a convoluted back story and one piece of clumsy and unrealistic staging where a car is searched in front of a pub full of drunken vigilantes just to set up the next scene.

That aside, The Killing Field is a damn fine show and worth watching. And there’s added suspense for TV viewers – just how badly will TVNZ’s commercial break placement ruin the pace?

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