Television is my passion and I treat it very seriously. I become utterly bereft when I finish a series I’ve loved and search frantically for the next thing to submerge myself in. Yet, while film and cinema are often viewed as an art form, people can be snobbish and derogatory about my beloved telly.
Series like The Wire, The Sopranos and Breaking Bad have thrust a big middle finger into the faces of telly doubters. They have proven that the character development, the story arc, the plot complexity, the catharsis of the audience, the realism of TV are more than a match for the 90-ish minutes of a feature film. While film is a short story, TV is a proper, chunky, War and Peace length novel. As a result, you get a lot more out of the time you invest in TV.
From time to time I thought it’d be a good shout to let you know what recent TV I’ve been watching that I think is worth a look. So here goes:
Braw Telly: Episode 1
The Night Of HBO, Sky Atlantic
The Night Of website says: “From creators Steven Zaillian and Richard Price, The Night Of is an eight-part limited series that delves into the intricate story of a fictitious murder case in New York City. The series follows the police investigation and legal proceedings, all the while examining the criminal justice system and the purgatory of Rikers Island, where the accused awaits his trial.”
Why I recommend it:
- New York. New York is dark, gritty, noirish, real, exciting, cosmopolitan and dangerous. This is not the New York of Sex and the City, it’s a New York which simultaneously depicts the good in people and the sheer brutality of the justice system in America.
- Crime and Punishment. This is a startling look into the nature of crime and punishment. It will make you question how we treat criminals, the morality of prisons and consider what humans need to do to survive. It’ll also make you reflect on being young and how one simple decision can dramatically shift the course of your life.
- John Turturro. Turturro’s character is a masterful combination of admirable hero and repellant fuck up. His awkward, clunky movement and eternal foot problems (don’t watch which you’re eating your tea) combine compellingly with his deep sense of compassion (when it comes to his job) and relentless plodding on to help his client.
- Suspense. Episode one in particular is almost comic in its frustrating build up of tension. It’s excruciating watching the slow, trundling wheels of the police department stir into action offset with the utter desperation and paranoia of the central character. You also shift your attitude towards the central character again and again as the series progresses which completely reminded me of the podcast Serial: Series One.
- Clues. From the very start of episode one you are looking for clues. The set up of this series makes you a completely active viewer. You predict what clues the police are going to look for and work backwards to re-evaluate your cache of clues in the case time and time again.