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I Also Watch the Television.

These late winter months have brought two high profiles Crime Dramas to television screens. The third season of TRUE DETECTIVE and the Chris Pine lead I AM THE NIGHT. Both wrapped up their seasons in back to back weeks.

Let me start with I AM THE NIGHT. It is my longheld belief that Chris Pine won the great Chris Wars of 2016. Evans and Hemsworth have been trapped behind a Marvel pay-wall and lose the battle based primarily on lack of variety. Chris Pratt is a nonentity, because while he is perfectly cast in those GUARDIANS movies, he is a bad actor. But I digress. Chris Pine makes a lot of choices in I AM THE NIGHT and gives a very good unhinged Nick Cage type performance. Watching the final episode I also remarked that he is a very good bleeder. The show looks at the intersection of the The Black Dahlia murder case and the interesting story of main suspect Dr. George Hodel. Hodel has been posited as an OG suspect since back in the day, but more recently his own son has came forward with his belief that his father was the killer of Elizabeth Short, among other crimes. And this is not a bad start for I AM THE NIGHT. The show looks like a million bucks with high production design and costumes. It is helped by the fact that it is shot on location in Los Angeles and in many of the real-life places that give the show authenticity. But in the end, I AM THE NIGHT can best be described as if the writers read 'most' of the James Ellroy Wikipedia entry and then got to work. I AM THE NIGHT never really takes off due to its story execution and because the other center character Fauna Hodel, played by India Eisley is terrible at worst, miscast at best. Saddled with an odd Southern patois her character and performance were a litany of bad choices, bad direction, bad dialogue, and head-scratching actions. It is difficult to figure out what went wrong here when all aspects of it just do not work. Still... I AM THE NIGHT is not without its charms and with only 6 episodes it will go down pretty quickly.

Season 3 of TRUE DETECTIVE fares better. The story, missing kids, this time around is compelling and simple. It certainly does not reach as big as Season 1 or 2. The tendrils that sent those seasons sideways are kept at a minimum here. While I could argue the reverse that those tendrils, side stories, and conspiracy theories are what make TD a compelling show it is Nicky P's inability to bring those elements home in a complete and satisfying story that hurt more than help. I think we can say Season 3 is the most successful version of the TRUE DETECTIVE franchise. As a kind origin story, the first season will still be considered the best if only as a proof of concept. Here we are are blessed not only with a good performance from Mahershala Ali, but a titanic one at that. The surprise here is Stephen Dorff who is the equal in every respect. Still it is not without its flaws. The story leans pretty hard on the conspiracy angle in episodes 3-5 with no real payoff expect to give the audiences a few rabbit holes to dive into. The female roles are still pretty thankless. Carmen Ejogo fairs as well as any female could in the TRUE DETECTIVE world. She made a good match for Ali, but all to often her character felt like it was dealt from the bottom of the deck. Her motivations were occasionally suspect until suddenly they weren't and for no other reason then the script didn't quite know how to make it pay off except for it go away. I totally dig the Rural Noir of the both Season 1 and 3, as well as the cloaking melancholy that pervades this season especially in the 1980 sequence. I'll probably always have nits to pick with this show, but I'll always tune in.

Currently Reading - ROBICHEAUX - James Lee Burke
To Be Read: 33


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