You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: A&E’s ‘Those Who Kill,’ ‘Bates Motel’


Chloe Sevigny, James D’Arcy, James Morrison, Omid Abtahi

Thanks to Chloe Sevigny’s interesting resume, her presence raised hopes that A&E’s latest stab at (overtly) scripted programming, “Those Who Kill,” might be more than just another serial-killer procedural — “Criminal Minds XXVII,” as it were. Alas, no such luck, and this latest dreary adaptation of a Danish series has the added burdens of being almost unforgivably shoddy in its details, with cops who stumble and bumble through their investigation, and yet another profiler with a haunted past (is there any other kind?). A&E introduces the show as a “Bates Motel” companion, but this latest crime-drenched show isn’t much fun for those who watch.

Using the drab environs of Pittsburgh as a surrogate for its European inspiration — and to be fair, for a small country, the Danes certainly have a way with brooding and outlandish murderers, dramatically speaking — the series casts Sevigny as Catherine Jensen, a detective with one of those sallow-eyed stares.

Faced with the grim discovery of bodies, she enlists the aide of Thomas Schaeffer (James D’Arcy), a brilliant academic/forensic psychologist, much to the chagrin of her boss (“24’s” James Morrison), who had a run-in with Schaeffer that ended badly.

The task of developing the show fell to “The X-Files” alum Glen Morgan and director Joe Carnahan, and while they conjure some creepy visuals, almost every aspect of the investigation is just plain silly if given more than a moment’s thought. That includes, but is not limited to, perhaps the worst securing of a suspect in the history of made-for-TV police work, which is saying something.

Indeed, while the show has an interesting look and some creepy visual flourishes, it’s hard to get past the ridiculous twists — or for that matter, a press release that refers to Pittsburgh as “picturesque.”

Sevigny certainly brings intensity to the role, and the series promises a serialized thread over its 10 episodes. Still, it’s hard to escape the sense that serial killers have become such a formulaic sop as to become TV’s version of a dramatic crutch.

Then again, “Those Who Kill” will follow “Bates Motel,” the network’s “Psycho” prequel, which returns with similar craziness, while still facing the same pitfalls about being hamstrung by where it fits into the movie’s universe.

Despite the firstrate performances by Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore as the mother-and-son combo Norma and Norman Bates, the show can’t delve too far into Norman’s murderous madness — although the creatives have pushed it some, compensating by creating a “Twin Peaks”-like world around the characters. Simply put, this is one of those small towns where all is not as it seems, and the per-capita murder rate is off the charts.

Because the first season performed reasonably well, “Bates Motel” remains open, and despite the considerable craft that has gone into creating a world designed to take on a life of its own, it’s difficult to see how the serialized narrative can run much longer without beginning to muck up its own Hitchcockian mythology.

As for “Those Who Kill,” the title notwithstanding, the show is mostly just guilty of a rather mundane form of petty theft — and a decided lack of imagination.

TV Review: A&E's 'Those Who Kill,' 'Bates Motel'

(Series; A&E, Mon. March 3, 10 p.m.)


Filmed in Pittsburgh by One Two, One Three Pictures, Miso Films, Imagine Television and Fox 21.


Executive producers, Brian Grazer, Francie Calfo, Glen Morgan, David Petrarca, Peter Bose, Jonas Allen; producer, Howard Griffith; director, Joe Carnahan; writer, Morgan; camera, Yasu Tanida; production designer, Scott P. Murphy; editors, Jason Hellmann, James Coblentz; music, Johnny Jewel; casting, Sharon Bialy, Sherry Thomas, Russell Scott. 60 MIN.


Chloe Sevigny, James D’Arcy, James Morrison, Omid Abtahi

More TV

  • Darren Star, Canneseries 2020 season 03

    Darren Star Reflects on His Iconic Shows And Teases 'Emily in Paris' at Mipcom

    Darren Star, the creator of “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Melrose Place” and “Sex and the City” who was celebrated at Mipcom on Monday and named patron of the upcoming Canneseries festival, said the iconic TV series he created struck a chord throughout the world because of their relatable characters and cultural grounding. “I never thought of [...]

  • Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren,

    How to Watch the Fourth Democratic Primary Debate

    For the first time since Nancy Pelosi launched the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, the top 12 Democratic primary candidates will take part in a debate. This marks the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 campaign season. The event is co-hosted by CNN and the New York Times and will be held at Otterbein [...]

  • Nailed It!

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Announces Holiday Programming Release Dates

    In today’s TV news roundup, Netflix unveiled the premiere dates for its upcoming holiday programming and the CW renewed “The Outpost.” DATES  Netflix has announced the release dates for all of its upcoming holiday series and films. Beginning Nov. 1, the streaming service will kick off the holiday season with “Holiday in the Wild” starring [...]

  • Netflix Acquires Rights to Turkish Prison

    Netflix Acquires Rights to Turkish Prison Drama 'Avlu'

    Netflix has taken global rights to the first season of “Avlu,” the Turkish adaption of Fremantle’s hit Australian prison drama “Wentworth.” Produced by Hayri Aslan and Limon Film, “Avlu” is set in a female prison in Istanbul, and has the same characters as the Australian original, all trying to survive life behind bars. The deal with Netflix was brokered by [...]

  • Gina Rodriguez'Someone Great' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Gina Rodriguez Apologizes After Rapping N-Word in Deleted Instagram Video

    “Jane The Virgin” star Gina Rodriguez has released an apology video shortly after she used the N-word while rapping along to a Fugees song in a video posted to her Instagram story. In the original video, which has since been deleted, Rodriguez raps along to “Ready or Not” while having her hair and makeup done. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content