Monday, February 26, 2018

Pilot Review: Seven Seconds

Seven Seconds (Netflix)
Premiered February 23

Though Netflix premieres at least one new show almost every week, most of them aren’t actually original series debuting for the first time. This, however, is one of the exceptions, the third in 2018 for the popular streaming service. It’s not a wholly original concept, of course, based on a 2013 Russian film, but it’s very specifically adapted for American audiences. Race is a major issue in today’s society, especially when it comes to police bias against African-American communities that leads to the all-too-frequent use of deadly force. This series chalks up a true accident to something that could bring down every white cop in the country as symbolic revenge for the vindications of a number of police officers accused of shooting unarmed black people. The problem is that things have already progressed too far, with Mike Diangelo, played by David Lyons, villainous as ever following his memorable “Revolution” run, proceeding immediately to cover up fellow officer Peter Jablonski running young Brenton Buller over in the snow and pinning the blame on an innocent scapegoat. The fact that Jablonski wanted to turn himself in and even showed up at the hospital in a hoodie looking very suspicious to ask Brenton’s mother if he was going to make it demonstrates that he’s going to be more of a problem for Diangelo then what would have happened. Casting Regina King from “The Leftovers” and “American Crime” as Brenton’s mother, Latrice, opposite Russell Hornsby from “Fences” as his father, suggests that they’re going to give the police department hell until they get serious answers for what’s going to be done. Also in the cast is Michael Mosley from “Scrubs” and “Sirens,” and Clare-Hope Ashitey from “Children of Men” as the prosecutor incapable of coming into court with the right case in mind and staying awake at the wheel. There are elements of this show that are intriguing, but the way in which it’s assembled and presented on screen doesn’t prove terribly impressive or inviting.

How will it work as a series? Jablonski showing up at the hospital was a truly dumb move, and it’s going to get him implicated in whatever’s to come, with Diangelo playing a strong defense and two relatively hapless lawyers fighting the aggressive police on one side and the angry family on the other. It could be explosive and interesting, but I don’t think it will be coherent or compelling enough to truly work well.
How long will it last? Netflix is flush with programming and reticent about sharing data on what’s being watched. The reviews for this show have been mostly positive if not overwhelmingly so, and its timely nature should be its best asset. A renewal is likely given that Netflix renews a good portion of its programming, and those chances are increased if season two is going to have a different focus that could be even more appealing to viewers.

Pilot grade: C+

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