Critical Condition: The Night Of

The Night Of (SoHo, 8.30 Wednesday)

“Adapted by Steve Zaillian and Richard Price from the BBC series Criminal Justice, The Night Of is as much conceit as story. Lives intersect when a beautiful young woman is brutally stabbed and a young man, who appears to be a victim of circumstance, is charged. There will be cops and lawyers, the parallel brutality of prison and public reaction. Crammed with familiar tropes (see: beautiful young woman, brutally stabbed) and many HBO alum including Price, it utilises an artistic array of sped-up street scenes and off-centre still lives, all stained with the dark, urban-weary tones that so often define the network.” — Los Angeles Times.

The Night Of is compulsively watchable and extraordinarily rewarding, a brilliant and addictive mystery that inspires the viewer to go back and watch the same scenes again, looking for subtler character beats and hidden clues. When I finished episode seven, I had to get up, go outside, and take a walk, just to recover from its emotional punch. In its quiet and stealthy way, the show manages to get under the skin — ensnaring the viewer in a net of confusion, half-truths, and the endless, deceptive fog of memory.” — Variety.

“The show meticulously examines each and every component of the archetypical procedural, displaying the care and insight of a trained investigator handling evidence. Combined with the most stylish cinematography, acting, and directing that HBO’s money and experience can summon, it feels like the logical endpoint — the culmination — of the entire TV cops-and-lawyers-and-murder tradition. It also feels like the beginning of something: The network could use this format for an anthology series touching on various crimes, and viewers would be grateful.” — The Atlantic.

“As we get to the yet-unseen finale, the truth is either going to feel like an organic vindication of your ability to pay attention or a cheat and a betrayal of Zaillian’s process … Great care has been taken in almost every aspect of bringing the former [James] Gandolfini passion project to TV. That care may peak early with a premiere that should be in Emmy consideration at this time next year, but subsequent episodes still hold an elevated, pulpy crime novel feel, dampened only slightly as contrivances begin to settle in.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

“Actor/producer James Gandolfini’s last project was meant to be a stirring indictment of the criminal justice system. Instead, it plays like an overwrought NYPD Blue episode … At one point, The Night Of might have been groundbreaking. But in the wake of the excellent ABC series American Crime, which has walked the same outrage with far more nuances, sophistication and a superior cast, The Night Of feels so last decade.” — Boston Herald.

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