TV Review: ‘I Am The Night’ (Pilot)
Wonder Woman was the wonder of last year’s awards season. Director Patty Jenkins delivered a female superhero that everyone could champion and be inspired by. Jenkins is back delivering phenomenal theater, but this time it comes to the small screen. TNT’s I Am The Night is a six-episode miniseries directed by Jenkins and created by Sam Sheridan. The show stars Chris Pine (yes, that Chris Pine) and India Eisley in a story based on true events of one of Los Angels most notorious crime mysteries.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT:
This series has a strong tie-in with the infamous Black Dahlia case. Eisley plays Fauna Hodel, a teenage girl that’s being raised by an African-American women. Midway through the episode Hodel discovers the news of her upbringing and lineage and travels to Los Angeles to discover the truth.
On the parallel, Pine plays Jay Singletary, a down-on-his luck freelance reporter. There are two storylines presented, one involving Hodel and the other that introduces us to Singletary’s life. What the pilot points to eventually is that Singletary and Hodel are connected on the same path to seeking truth.
HOW DID THE ACTORS DO:
It doesn’t get much bigger for a network show to get the likes of Pine and Jenkins behind it. Pine is a legitimate leading man on the big screen, so to have him lead this series is a major boost to the credibility and quality of this production. We get to see a side of Pine playing a character that goes against everything we are familiar seeing him portray. In a way he’s substituting his handsome looks and charm for a rough and rugged appearance. Singleton is a tortured soul and there is clear evidence of this in the show. It’s not what we are usually accustomed to seeing from Pine, and it feels new and fresh.
Eisley pops out immediately as soon as she’s introduced. Not only does she have a striking appearance, but the mystique in her eyes is telling. Eisley depicts Hodel as a sweet and curious girl that’s trying to find her way and place in her world. She comes off as a little naive and vulnerable, which is fitting to the path Hodel seems to be heading on. Most importantly Eisley holds her own and is interesting to watch. She’s a star in her own right.
While Pine is the big name at the top, the rest of the show rounds out with some high quality supporting actors, with the likes of Leland Orser (Berlin Station), Jefferson Mays, Connie Nielsen, Yul Vazquez and Golden Brooks (fantastic work from her in the pilot).
HOW DOES IT LOOK AND SOUND:
Credit to the cinematographers for making it all look and feel like a million bucks. It has a definite theatrical look to it. The mood and tone is set from the start. There is no question that the noir elements are firmly present, especially when it takes you away from rural Reno, Nevada and into the shadow filled Los Angeles nights.
The musical score is on point. The background score seems to correlate at all times with the action on the screen. It sets-up the mood and adds a shot of tension each time a revelation is impending. The sound is well put together and enhances every aspect of the show.
WAS IT ENTERTAINING:
Not only was it entertaining, it was enthralling. I was glued to the screen awaiting each moment and scene with the highest of anticipation. I haven’t been gripped by a show or film like this in a long time. It’s almost unfair to call this a show, as it has the look and feel of a theatrical film.
The suspense is top-notch. The combination of storytelling, visuals and sound deliver a supremely tension packed and intriguing show. The least of your worries is the entertainment factor, because it grabs a hold of your full attention quickly.
The chilling nature of the story comes through in the way the show makes you feel. The sinister web that leads to infamous Hollywood “gynecologist” (eery creep) Dr. George Hodel, who is the prime villain suspect that will certainly make you cringe with discomfort. His Hollywood guest play-pen makes the underground joints of Eyes Wide Shut look like your moms book club. Not to mention his demon cult leader status. Point is, this stuff is genuinely nightmare inducing.
IS IT WORTH SEEING:
I Am The Night is the best new show on television or streaming platforms, I might go as far as saying this is the best show available anywhere now. It has all the elements you’d want. The acting is strong with significant talent on-screen and behind-the-scenes. The look has a high-end quality and aura of legitimate mystery. The plot is inspired by true events of a long standing Hollywood crime story that you can’t help but be engrossed by.
TNT has a major winner on its hand. This is the kind of show that would usually land on HBO, Showtime or possibly Netflix or Amazon, not cable. There really isn’t anything not to like about it. I can’t find anything worthy of bringing down my hopes and excitement for what’s to come, based on this premiere episode.
Curiosity won’t get the best of me. As tempted as I’ve been to Google the details of this unsolved crime, I will stay away and follow along with the show and let it do its work. There is no reason not to check out this show. It’s thrilling and chilling. So for now, no Netflix and chill, instead, do some I Am The Night and chill.
‘I AM THE NIGHT’ SCORE: 100%
‘I AM THE NIGHT’ premieres on January 28 at 9 p.m. on TNT