Critical Condition: Quarry

Quarry (SoHo, 8.30 Wednesday/encore 9.30 Friday)

“Nothing’s better for a TV critic than falling in love with a show that didn’t sound like much on paper. Cinemax’s lean and mean new eight-episode drama Quarry, based on Max Allan Collins’s crime novels, is about Mac Conway (Prometheus’ Logan Marshall-Green), a marine who comes home to Memphis from Vietnam in 1972 and finds little opportunity for a veteran of an unpopular war — so he reluctantly becomes a hired gun for an enigmatic crime boss who calls himself The Broker (Peter Mullan). See? Describing Quarry only makes it sound like one more cable drama about a difficult man drawn into a world of despicable, murderous people … Quarry instead comes to life as soon as you turn it on, with a heartbreaking sense of soul, a strong ear for dialogue and an array of supporting players  who lend the show an impressive degree of grit, gallows humour and suspense.” — The Washington Post.

“When you throw in the dangers of the Broker, the threat of infidelity, a one-legged man out for vengeance, a hateful, racist community willing to let its feelings be known, and the weight of real world tragedies — the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. occurred just four years prior and the harrowing events of the 1972 Munich Olympics are featured in one of the season’s eight episodes — Quarry becomes an entertaining if gloomy drama carefully constructed to paint a portrait of a world that’s turned and left its men to face problems on their own.” — TV Guide.

“Continuing Cinemax’s commitment to pulpy genre programming and TV’s clever, renewed approach to adapting literary crime series for the small screen, the new drama Quarry is a grimy, sexy, violent buffet of ’70s style, Memphis attitude, droopy facial hair and character-acting chops … If the main character at the centre of Quarry is familiar and one prone to viewer fatigue, Quarry works because so much of the rest of the show around Mac is so rich.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

“Following Banshee (crime in small-town Pennsylvania) and Outcast (horror in rural West Virginia), Quarry is another exercise in lurid pulp storytelling and sweaty regional flavour. It’s not as much fun as either of those earlier shows — it’s too slow and solemn, and its obligatory touches of baroque weirdness lack conviction. But the carefully maintained 1970s setting, a few good performances and a soundtrack full of Memphis soul at least partly redeem it.” — New York Times.

“Director Greg Yaitanes, an essential part of the Banshee team, skillfully establishes an observational ’70s vibe that presents the era in washed-out tans and browns with olive-green accents, and recalls films like Walking Tall and Coming Home. Unfortunately the dour Mac is less interesting than some of the supporting characters around him, and the pacing on Quarry too often stalls. For all its fidelity to Memphis soul, the show lacks the texture and vitality of its setting, and in the first four of the debut season’s eight hours, the series comes off like a retread of an array of cable dramas that preceded it.” — Variety.

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