Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Pilot Review: I Am the Night

I Am the Night (TNT)
Premiered January 28 at 9pm

I very distinctly remember seeing the film “The Black Dahlia” during my freshman year of college, and despite high expectations, I found it to be brutally insufferable. When done well, thrillers about serial killers can be excellent, but that’s often not the case. I didn’t know much about this limited series other than it had something to do with those murders, and, after watching this first hour, I’m still not too sure what I’m in for other than one of the most slow-burn series I’ve seen in a long time. As Pat experiences racism at school and out with her boyfriend which itself is complicated by the light color of her skin, she manages to discover that her parents aren’t who she thinks they are at all, leading to her departing for Los Angeles in search of the enigmatic grandfather she doesn’t know. Chris Pine’s paparazzo is so dedicated to his seedy job that he’s willing to impersonate a doctor and then hide in a morgue drawer so that he can smuggle a few photos out. Naturally, these two plotlines will come together as Jay looks into the suspicious role of Dr. Hodel in past events, though this opening hour doesn’t indicate much promise or future cohesiveness. “Some stories don’t want to be told – some stories will eat you alive” is meant to be the tagline here to describe what we’re seeing, but, thus far, this seems like a story that’s going to swallow viewers up in boredom. I saw endless trailers for this series, advertised on television and on flights I took, and nothing about actually watching it made it more appealing. Pine is much more charismatic than this and deserves better.

How will it work as a series? It’s only slated to run for six episodes, so theoretically things have to get moving soon. The way in which Pat was lured to Los Angeles is definitely suspect, and it’s happening at the same time that Jay is starting to peel back the layers of what’s going on. It might end up getting interesting eventually, but, thus far, there’s no clear signal of a direction or purpose to this story.
How long will it last? The reviews seem to be decent if unspectacular, and TNT has enjoyed some success recently with limited series like this, including “The Alienist,” which ended up netting a sequel. I think six episodes should be more than enough to spin this tale, and its performance is going to make the network question whether these short-form crime series are actually worthwhile to produce.

Pilot grade: C-