Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Pilot Review: Snowfall

Snowfall (FX)
Premiered July 5 at 10pm

I’ve been seeing posters for this show for months in the subway, boldly declaring, “This is how crack began.” FX has really risen in quality over the past decade, starting with a few incredible standouts like “The Shield” and “Rescue Me,” and now home to almost a dozen highly-acclaimed series, including three immensely popular anthology series that are going to continue to dominate awards races for years to come for each new iteration. This show has a more specific focus, traveling back to 1983 Los Angeles to chart the lives of a handful of influential individuals in the rise of crack as an American institution. This pilot reminded me a lot of a mix between two popular Netflix shows, “The Get Down” and “Narcos.” It’s styled very much like the former, with popping colors and purposeful backgrounds to ground itself in the time and culture in which it’s meant to take place, and it features an in-depth look at the machinations of the operation involving the CIA’s very direct involvement in and knowledge of international drug trade. I didn’t find it nearly as gripping or involving as either of those, though Damson Idris’ Franklin Saint is an endearing protagonist who seems way too good for this world and who very quickly transformed himself into someone ready to become LA’s top drug dealer just because someone thought he couldn’t do it. I didn’t recognize him when I watched the episode, but I will commend this show on actually casting an Israeli actor, Alon Aboutboul, who starred last year in “Harmonia,” as an Israeli, since so many other series have fabricated accents by people from different places. It’s not a great showcase of the Israeli people, but there’s no denying that this show is multicultural in its portrayal of what went into an epidemic that struck the nation. I don’t feel the need to watch more of this show, but I can understand why some like it.

How will it work as a series? Having four protagonists whose lives are all separate but destined to come together should allow this show to have more than enough material from which to draw and plot out its course, and I have no doubt that there is an interesting web to be spun here that should draw committed viewers in over time.
How long will it last? The reviews are pretty good and the marketing campaign was definitely strong, but the ratings don’t seem to be keeping up with that, starting out okay and then falling in the second week, a usual trend but not one that demands a renewal. I think this show will still end up being picked up for more, but it’s not a guarantee.

Pilot grade: B-

No comments: