While the premiere will not officially air until Sunday, if you were perusing HBOGO/HBONow following the finale of Game of Thrones, you may have found a little golden nugget. HBO has been marketing the hell out of their new show The Night Of -- an eight-part miniseries to be aired this summer -- and they placed Part I up on their mobile platforms to be viewed weeks before the actual on-air premiere.
It's certainly a bold move to allow access to the first episode early because if it were to absolutely bomb -- it didn't -- the network could immediately see large pitfalls in the ratings when the official airing and subsequent episodes are released. On the other hand, it could draw in a huge following to the show if it is accepted fairly well. Furthermore, considering the show is a miniseries, it doesn't have to worry about being picked up for a second series, making the gamble a lower risk. Following the viewing of Part I, however, it is evident that the gamble will most certainly pay off.
The narrative of the series surrounds the story of Nasir (Naz? Nas?) Khan -- played by Riz Ahmed -- a Pakistani-American being accused of murdering a girl, who he had just met the same night of her death, and is being represented by Jack Stone -- played by John Turturro. If you're not already intrigued by the presence of Turturro -- who has played a litany of great characters -- or Ahmed -- who's on the verge of Star Wars: Rogue One and Jason Bourne -- let me just say that the miniseries was written and directed by Richard Price and Steve Zaillian. Both of their names alone should give you reason to watch.
Zaillian, while being the writer of the mediocre Exodus: Gods and Kings, has a laundry list of movies that certainly outshine any blips on his writing record. The notables of the list read as such: the American adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Sidebar: IT'S A FUCKING TRAVESTY THE SEQUEL WASN'T ADAPTED ALSO), American Gangster, Hannibal, Clear and Present Danger, Searching for Bobby Fischer, and Mission Impossible. All of those movies are well worth the watch, and a career with just those films alone would be deemed a fairly successful one.
Ah, but then we look at the list a little closer and realize he also wrote the screenplays for Moneyball, Awakenings, and Schindler's List. Yes. One of the men behind The Night Of is also the same man nominated for Academy Awards and Golden Globes for the screenplays of movies that some could say are among the greats -- Moneyball may not be an upper echelon movie as a whole, but the screenplay itself is a hidden gem. All three films were well received critically and at the box office, with Schindler's List considered to be one of the best films ever made.
Then we move to Price, the second writer, which is where the series will be able to balance the strength of Zaillian to create a story fit for film with Price's ability to stretch the narrative and instill the gritty urban environment the show is set in.
Price, while being a screenwriter, is largely known for his novels The Wanderers, Clockers, and Lush Life, which all tend to explore the darkness of urban America. In Part I of The Night Of, already get an eerie sense of a dark, film noir style of urban grittiness that seems reminiscent of David Fincher's Se7en and other cinematographic works of the same nature. One interesting note is that rather than having the typical film noir main character that is a brooding, dark detective with a vague past, the show opted to make Turturro's character, with a similar description, a lawyer who has to be a detective in his own right but from a different perspective than the one film noir has used in the past.
The entire plot of this first episode plays on other backbones of film noir including a convoluted sense of time. Outside of a couple of markers of the what time it is, we are never really sure how long Naz has been unconscious or how long he has been with the police. It all sets up this ambiguity of what is going on and it works wonderfully with the fact that we literally aren't sure what happened and how this woman died -- yes, I know the knife is technically how she died but there are still other how's that need answering. What Price does with this odd sense of time creates a dark, ominous world of the urban environment that forces a disturbing realism upon us.
This realism is also the final reason that Price being a writer on the show should excite you: HE HELPED WRITE THE WIRE -- AND WE EVEN GET A BODIE APPEARANCE TO BOOT! His work on arguably one of the best seasons in television history -- the fifth season of The Wire -- earned him a Writers Guild of America Award and this same sense of realism from one of HBO's best shows is one of the great things about what we have been shown so far. If you're a fan of The Wire -- or any of its counterparts like Show Me A Hero -- you'll find a haunting comfort in the realistic world that is created in this miniseries.
There is so much to be excited for with The Night Of going forward and having to wait weeks for the next episode will only give us more time to realize just how many topics this show can talk about. We've already seen discussions of racial tension, socioeconomic classes, and relations with the cops, which are all relevant topics within just the past couple months of our society. It should be interesting to see how these, as well as the development of the characters and simply the story-line, will be delved into. The show should be exhilarating and is part of many other intriguing HBO stories that are on the way and are highly anticipated.
And to think they just slid this in right around the time they knew everyone would be tuning into their platforms. That HBO. It appears they know what they are doing.