Is The Night Of the next True Detective? HBO hopes so

Image: HBO
Image: HBO

I think its safe to say that True Detective Season 2 didn’t hold much water in comparison with its sublime predecessor. Maybe it was the absence of Woody Harrelson, the McConnaissance, and auteur extraordinaire Cary Fukunaga, or perhaps the dip in quality was the fact that series creator Nic Pizzolatto decided to shoehorn four highly complicated storylines in to accommodate the second season’s stars (whose respective performances went 50:50). The good: Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams, and the bad: Vince Vaughn and Taylor Schilling – set against a muddled Los Angeles landscape. Whatever the reason (or combination of reasons) was, we can all agree that True Detective season 2 was kind of a dumpster fire – so much so, that its likely to serve as the once-revered series’ final season.

With the high likelihood of True Detective having noired along its final trail of grisly murders and circumspect philosophy, HBO is in desperate need (or at least seems to believe they’re in need) of another dark and gritty murder drama set in the modern day (because GoT has the gritty fantasy murder drama stuff covered). and it appears as though the (hopeful) successor  is going to be The Night Of, featuring rising star Riz Ahmed and long-time character actors John Turturro and Michael K. Williams.

Not much is known about The Night Of, but there are a few things that can be gleaned from its source material and the press releases issued by HBO. The show was developed by Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List, Gangs of New York, Moneyball, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and Richard Price (The Color of Money, Shaft, The Wire), so its fair to say writing in the vein of a stylized caper is going to be well covered. Zaillian and Price adapted the series from the BBC’s Criminal Justice series, which starred Ben Whishaw (“Q” from Spectre) as a young man accused of murder after a drunken and drug-filled night out.

The Night Of has a similar feel, but mix in the All-American mystery elements of the blockbuster podcast Serial, and you’ve got a series that follows Riz Ahmed (who is also slated to star in Jason Bourne and Star Wars: Rogue One) as a man accused of killing a woman he barely knows. The series follows the police investigations and legal proceedings surrounding the murder, as more smoke and mirrors obfuscate the truth and whether or not Riz Ahmed’s character – who sits in the purgatorial Rikers Island – did or did not commit the murder.

It seems likely that The Night Of will be a success, especially with the failed True Detective Season 2 and shows like American Crime Story and Making a Murderer whetting viewers’ appetites for stylized true-crime (or in this case, fictionalized) dramas. The show itself will be far less complicated than True Detective (hopefully) and will serve as an eight episode limited series run, orienting the series to be the truest successor to True Detective yet.

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Sean McHugh

Sean considers himself a poor man's polymath and finds solipsism amusing. Feel free to follow him on Twitter at @mchugh_sean, or not. That's fine.