Monday, August 14, 2017

Pilot Review: Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes (Audience)
Premiered August 9 at 8pm

I read somewhere that the opening scene of this show was extremely disturbing, and that was confirmed by the warning that was displayed on screen at the start of the episode. My first thought upon seeing the horrific murder of a number of innocent people, including a young mother and her baby, was that this had to be based on fact, because who would make something like that up? I was relieved to find that it wasn’t, that it instead was inspired by a 2011 incident in which a woman similarly drove her car into a crowd at a McDonald’s but with no fatalities as far as I could tell. The timing of this premiere couldn't be any worse given the recent terrorist attack of a similar nature in Charlottesville. It makes some sense that this comes from the brain of Stephen King, though there’s nothing supernatural about it, just a man who likes to kill people and then toy with the man who wasn’t able to catch him. My problem with this and many serial killer shows and movies is that the villain in question exercises such control in their murderous operations yet falls victim to a controlling – and then some – mother and a demoralizing boss who has no clue what the directionless millennial who works for him actually does with his spare time. I was sad to find out that the role of Brady was originally slated to be played by Anton Yelchin before his untimely death in a car accident. Brendan Gleeson is a tremendous actor who’s absolutely right for this part, and it was good to see Emmy winner Holland Taylor for the first time in a while as his sometimes-nude neighbor. Kelly Lynch from “The L Word,” Scott Lawrence from “Rectify,” Breeda Wool from “AWOL” and “UnREAL,” and Mary-Louise Parker represent strong elements of the supporting cast. This show is intriguing but its villain is too dark for my tastes, sending taunting videos that show an unnecessarily purposeful and depraved attitude towards what he’s done, and its pacing wasn’t quick enough for me to feel like it was worth returning for more.

How will it work as a series? There’s no indication that he’s actually going to strike again, but what he did two years earlier is unsettling enough, and he’s now taken to tormenting Bill just for the hell of it. This episode wasn’t all that focused on their interactions, filling in a lot of Bill’s life and Brady’s, and so I’d expect similar pacing in coming episodes.
How long will it last? The reviews seem to be pretty strong, and it’s hard to find ratings data from the Audience network since it operates differently than a lot of other channels. Given Stephen King’s popularity and the positive reception for this show so far, I’d expect a second season to come along, especially since there were two other book published in King’s series.

Pilot grade: B-

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