Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Assignment #2: Television Review

Good Suspense Drama "I Am the Night" on TNT

This six-episode drama series, set in the 1960's, started this week. It's a very good suspense thriller. Loosely based on the autobiography of Fauna Hodel, there are two main protagonists in the story. One of them is a washed-up L.A. reporter, Jay, who likes cocaine a little too much. Chris Pine ("Star Trek") is fantastic in this role. A Korean War vet, Jay is desperate to get a big story that will put him back on top again.  The other lead, Pat (played by India Eisley), appears to be a very light-skinned black teenager in Nevada.  She finds out that her entire past is a lie.  Eisley ("The Secret Life of the American Teenager") is very sympathetic and does a fine job.  The actress who plays her mother, Golden Brooks, is also outstanding (Those who have followed her career for the past 20 years aren't going to be surprised by her talent). Trailer

Golden Brooks as Jimmy Lee from IMDB

The story is loosely based on Fauna Hodel's book, "One Day She'll Darken: The Mysterious Beginnings of Fauna Hodel". The real Hodel passed away in 2017, but she was involved with this production.

 Spoilers!!! Don't read this section if you don't want to be spoiled!

  In the first episode, Pat learns that she's not really black, her real name is Fauna, and the abusive, drunk Jimmy Lee (Brooks) is not really her mother.  Her grandfather, George Hodel, is a rich doctor in L.A. who had wild sex parties and was a suspect in the famous Black Dahlia murder.  All of that really happened. 

Jefferson Mays as creepy gyno Hodel - pic from meaww.com

In real life, George Hodel (who lived in this very weird L.A. mansion) was also suspected in the murder of his secretary. He was investigated by police after they caught him via wiretap talking about the murders. He fled the country before they could arrest him, and the murder was never solved. His son (whom he abused) later confirmed that he was the killer and that he may have also been one of the other serial killers during that time that were never caught.

Pine and Eisley - pic from IGN

 In the show, Jay gets a call from Jimmy Lee, telling him that he was on the right track when he wrote about Hodel in an article. This spurs him to do more investigating.

Eisley - pic from Vulture.com

Fauna flees Sparks, Nevada to visit her grandfather, who wants to meet her. Things don't go as planned, of course. She meets Jay, and the two of them play detective to find out if Hodel killed actress Elizabeth Short (AKA The Black Dahlia), who was found murdered and dismembered. Stage vet Jefferson Mays is suitably scary as creepy gynocologist Hodel.

END OF SPOILERS! Keep reading after this...

"I Am the Night" has a film noir feel, for the most part. You may find that parts of it are a bit slow. It's possible that this story would have made a better film than a miniseries, and they just had too much time fill. I didn't find the pace unbearable to watch, though. Also, they do a very good job of making everything look like the 1940's time period (as far as I can tell). Episode Two Preview

Pine and Eisley - pic from SlashFilm

 Pine and Eisley have smooth chemistry.  The series also teams Chris Pine with his "Wonder Woman" director Patty Jenkins, whose husband Sam Jenkins wrote this wonderful TV miniseries. Connie Nielsen (who played Diana's mother, Queen Hippolyta) has a small role as Hodel's wife.  Pine demonstrated in this compilation character that he's much more than just a pretty face (in fact, he's not very "pretty" in this show). I look forward to watching the rest of the limited series, as well as Pine's return in the next "Wonder Woman" movie.

Chris Pine, not looking fine, from TV Guide

The show airs Mondays on TNT. You can watch it on their website or on Amazon Prime

I Am the Night Header from Wikipedia

Animated GIFs from loading.io. Read More Reviews by Suzanne and others at The TV MegaSite!

Pine and Eisley - pic from IMDB

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