Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Pilot Review: White Dragon

White Dragon (Amazon)
Premiered February 8

I saw a poster for this show and was excited that Martin Freeman was starring in another project, only to realize that it was actually John Simm, an actor who looks somewhat like the recent star of “Fargo” and “Cargo.” Simm was a great supporting player on ABC’s short-lived “The Catch” and would surely have had a more substantial role in the third season that didn’t end up happening. Here, he plays someone who’s much more out of his element, confident in his classroom but completely railroaded not only by his wife’s death but the news that she had an entirely separate life in Hong Kong as someone else’s wife and mother. I didn’t know what the premise was going to be here and enjoyed the opportunity to watch it play out, as Simm’s Jonah tried desperately to find a phone charger so that he could listen to the last message his wife left for him, which hinted at the double life that she knew he’d soon discover. I’m not sure how much of this show will be occupied by Jonah trying to tail people who knows he’s following them and struggling to speak Chinese, though I like the fact that David didn’t seem to detest Jonah at all and might even work with him, while Lau is all about protesting and will want to get to the mystery of whatever it was her mother was doing that got her killed in what almost certainly was not an accident. I’m not intrigued enough by this start to feel like I really need to know where it’s headed.

How will it work as a series? There’s a lot that’s not clear at this point, and the question will be if Jonah’s search for it, accompanied or not by David and Lau, will be sufficiently exciting, and if the payoff will be substantial in terms of why Megan was lying to both of her husbands. I think it could be, but it may take a while to get there.
How long will it last? I knew that this couldn’t be an original Amazon production, but I was having trouble finding out more about it since it was titled “Strangers” when it first aired on ITV back in September. All I can find in terms of review data are audience complaints about problematic minor plot points, and I think this is also likely a closed-loop narrative, which suggests to me that these eight episodes will be all that we get of this show.

Pilot grade: B

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