Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My review of THE NIGHT OF

I can’t wait for Sunday night’s conclusion to THE NIGHT OF (now showing on HBO). This eight-part series has been absolutely gripping. It feels and looks like a Sidney Lumet movie. (Have you noticed that television limited series are way better and more complex than movies? Few and far between are films like THE VERDICT.)

In THE NIGHT OF you start with A-list writers in Richard Price and Steve Zaillian. And Zaillian has become an A-list director as well. But here’s the thing: they actually deliver. How many times have you seen a marquee pitching match-up like Clayton Kershaw vs. Madison Bumgarner and the final score is 10-9?

But Price and Zaillian both pitch perfect games.

This was taken from a British series and adapted for US audiences. James Gandolfini was supposed to play the lead character (the rumpled lawyer) but tragically passed away. (He still gets an executive producer credit.) DeNiro was in for five minutes but he bailed (probably to take DIRTY GRANDPA or some other truly terrible role). John Turturro stepped in and gives the performance of his career.

And yet he doesn’t steal the show. There are two ahead of him. Riz Ahmed as the Pakistani kid who is charged with murder goes down this rabbit hole of hell and to see him adapt to his circumstances is the stuff of Emmys.

And he still wasn’t my favorite.

Bill Camp was. I’ve mentioned him before. Camp is a character actor who has a bunch of credits although he’s one of those guys you never remember. Well, that will change with this role. His portrayal of the chief detective is so real, so riveting, so better than anything you see on CSI that for me, he was the stand-out of stand-outs.  And isn't it fun to see someone NEW (or at least new to you)? 

The supporting actors were equally terrific. Notably Jeannie Berlin, Peyman Moaadi, Glenne Headly, Amara Karan, and of course, Chip Zien.

This is probably not a series you can binge. The intensity level is pretty high – especially when they go to Riker’s Island. This is OZ with better lighting. I think I’d last eleven seconds – and that’s if I had protection. What’s bizarre is that I watched an episode of this and then an episode of SUITS where their lead character Mike is in prison, and compared to Riker’s it is like a W Hotel.

Sunday is the finale. We’ll hopefully learn who committed the murder and whether Turturro will keep his cat? Now THIS to me is a cliffhanger (the cat part I mean).

23 comments:

Stuart Best said...

I'm still waiting for you to watch and review The Wire!

David said...

Indeed--this show is one of the great ones. And for us theatre-goers in NYC, Bill Camp is a proper legend. Glad to see him in a wider spotlight.

Dan said...

At least two choice roles given to women beyond the age of 30.

Mr. Hollywood said...

Ken, as a radio guy, Steve Zaillian's dad (Jim Zaillian) was the news director at KNX when you were at KMPC ... and I agree with you completely ... superb piece of work on all levels ... writing ... acting ... directing. Better then any film I've seen in a LONG time!
P.S. -- worked on THE VERDICT years back with Paul Newman. Hell of a movie as well!

Shrill1 said...

Bill Camp had a good recurring role on the now defunct TV show Manhattan which is on Amazon/DVD and worth checking out.

ADmin said...

Zien is pretty fun to watch, too.

I don't know that I'm as enamored with the whole series as much as some, but it certainly got progressively better by the episode. At first, it plodded a little slowly for my liking. Camp, as you say, is excellent and perfectly cast. Conveying so much with just the look on his face and the tones of his voice.

(How about a spin-off with Fisher Stevens as Saul the Pharmacist? There could be some comedy gold there.)

Anonymous said...

You worked with Mary Tyler Moore. Maybe you know the answer to this.

I am reading Jeffrey Toobin's new book about Patty Hearst and the SLA. In it he says that KNXT became the prototype of local news because MTM's aunt "worked as the business manager of the station and she shared tales...of anchor Jerry Dunphy--who served as the model for the hapless Ted Baxter." I also thought Baxter was based more on local newsman George Putnam. I never saw Dunphy as Baxter-like.

Do you know the real story?

-30-

Donald said...

As long as you're handing out kudos to the cast, a special shout-out to Jeannie Berlin. The scene last Sunday night cross-examining the expert witness is a master class. Way to go, Lila!

Frankipop said...

Am I the only one who's noticed a huge hole in the plot? Why didn't the kid just take an Uber?

Kyle Burress said...

I really think this is terrific television. I certainly wish there were way more like it. The acting has been phenomenal as has the writing. It really did seem like a very slow start but I knew something was coming so it kept me intrigued. I too cannot wait for the finale to see how everything wraps up. I have my own suspicions as to what happened and hopefully we'll find out!

Kyle Burress said...

I forgot, but I agree with Stuart that if you haven't watched The Wire, you definitely should. I've seen plenty of television shows over the years and that ranks as my number one.

Bill Jones said...

Ken, check this out--a mid-80s Late Night with David Letterman episode with Tom Hanks describing "Volunteers" (complete with Polaroids from the shoot). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZLR65KKUVo. Pretty great stuff.

normadesmond said...

1. i'm guessing we're not going to get a clean answer this sunday.
2. YAY JEANNIE BERLIN!!!!!
3. don't hate me....amara reminds me of shari lewis' donkey puppet, yet she's beautiful.
4. i cannot find out the name of the actor who played the first dermatologist. he's not listed at imdb.

MikeN said...

How was The Night Manager?

Frankipop, there are lots of people unable to get Uber.

Andrew said...

Off the immediate subject, but wanted to comment on this: "DeNiro was in for five minutes but he bailed (probably to take DIRTY GRANDPA or some other truly terrible role)."

Friday question: Why do great actors do this? Why does DeNiro keep appearing in one movie after another that's far beneath him? It's like he's trying to sabotage his reputation. He could star in any movie he wants to. Why choose such dreck at the end of his career? Why not rather retire on a high note?

Bryan Robinson said...

what did everyone think abut "the kiss heard around the world?"

WHY? Thought it was horrible....

...great, great show overall!

MikeN said...

Andrew, has it occurred to you that you are wrong about the quality of DeNiro's latest work?

I watch him on SNL and find it horrible, but then I see others laughing at it.
Really he can't be blamed for mailing it in when the writers but him in a skit about hunting the terrorist Bin Fartin.

H Johnson said...

Glad you had a nice lunch.

I try to catch your blog each morning but I miss a few. Have you ever talked about the program 'Elementary'? I didn't try it for the first three seasons because I wasn't a huge Lucy Liu fan and the thought of her playing Dr. Watson didn't interest me. But as happens, I finally ran out of good shows and check it out.

In my opinion it is one of the smartest shows on television. It rivals the best British dramas for it's wit and pacing. The acting is terrific and the characters actually grow and change from time to time. This has to be due in no small part to the writers. They are wonderful on this show.

What say you?

Aloha

Anonymous said...

Ditto! Especially your response to Bill Camp. I too found him riveting. They all had interesting looks a la Woody Allen movies. But his was most interesting, I thought. Kind of a comb-over, kind of short, thick neck, and didn't have to say a word and could still win an Emmy. Don't invite me to a Dodger game Sunday, I'll be waiting for The Night Of (love the title too!)

Andrew said...

"Andrew, has it occurred to you that you are wrong about the quality of DeNiro's latest work?"

No, such a thought never occurred to me. It still hasn't occurred to me. It never will occur to me. Because I'm an arrogant jerk who's always right.

I mean, have you seen Meet the Fockers? (And Dustin Hoffman too - what was he thinking?)

Todd.Spiker said...

Someone whose work here should also be commended, of course, is Michael K. Williams. As is always the case where he's concerned, there's not a false note to be found in his performance. He was also great recently in the first season of the series "Hap & Leonard" on Sundance TV.

Jon B. said...

To my surprise, Bill Camp and Riz Ahmed had nice roles in this summer's BOURNE movie, which Ken (and many others) panned. I was unfamiliar with both of them until THE NIGHT OF. Now I think they are terrific.

Frankipop said...

@MikeN--It's really affected my enjoyment of the show. I can't help but think while I'm watching that none of this would have happened if he had just taken an Uber...