As the newly self-dubbed "Something More" network, AMC has some pretty big, morally ambiguous shoes to fill once Breaking Bad says its final goodbyes at the end of this upcoming (half-) season. Not that the programmers behind The Walking Dead and Mad Men aren’t up to the task: Directly after this Sunday’s premiere of Walter White’s swan song, comes the debut of Low Winter Sun, an American adaptation of a two-part British mini-series of the same name. This time, though, fans will have ten whole episodes full of dreary crime and shifty ethics, all set against the faded metropolitan glory of Detroit, to get their gritty-noir/anti-hero fix. My fool self has seen the pilot, and would be more than happy to provide some insight concerning the matter of whether or not one might have an enjoyable experience viewing it.
Oh okay Low Winter Sun, got it: ANOTHER SHOW ABOUT DEATH BY GLOBAL WARMING
No you dope, sit back down. Reprising his role from the British version, Mark Strong plays Frank Agnew, one-half of a cop-killing duo alongside Lennie James' (Hung, Jericho, The Walking Dead) Joe Geddes. Together, they take out a corrupt officer for murky reasons and give his death the guise of a suicide. This being the Murder Mitten, though, the hit causes unforeseen ripples, both within the department and in the local Detroit crime world. David Costabile (Gale from Breaking Bad) plays internal affairs investigator Simon Boyd, who's taking a hard look at some coincidental foul play involving the deceased. James Ransone (The Wire, Generation Kill) is on the other end of said foul play as hungry crime lord Damon Callis, whose network gets thrown into jeopardy with the surprise death of his dirty police contact.
Pray tell, what imagineer made this trickery of light and sound, and what players did bring it to Life?
Former Criminal Minds executive producer Chris Mundy opened up his fat, juicy brain for this adaptation, as well as for the pilot episode. (For any Hell on Wheels fans in the house, Mundy also wrote the HoW episodes "The Lord's Day" and "Scabs," and acted as co-executive producer for the series in its second season.) The Wire and Dexter alum Ernerst R. Dickerson handled directing duties for the pilot. And in addition to the previously mentioned performers, LWS boasts a cast of seasoned professionals. Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Castle's Capt. Roy Montgomery) plays the precinct’s survivalist lieutenant Charles Dawson, who's just trying to keep his hands clean; Athena Karkanis (Lost Girl) steps in as fellow police officer Dani Kahlil, whose possible infatuation with the troubled Agnew leads to some unhelpful snooping around. On the other side of the law, there’s Sprague Grayden (Six Feet Under, Sons of Anarchy, and Jericho to name a few) as crime wife and shady talent scout Maya Callis, and Billy Lush (The Chicago Code, Generation Kill) comes in as unemployed ex-soldier Nick Paflas, who's "discovered" by Callis and set up with some dirty work.
When does the Low Winter Sun program get going?
Sunday, August 11 at 10pm (right after Breaking Bad). Then the whole shebang barrels through ten uninterrupted weeks, right on into early October.
Who will enjoy Low Winter Sun?
Hey: If you like the sprawling story threads of the The Wire, the atmospheric, murder-mysteryness of The Killing, and
the zany antics of The King of Queens the character-centric/shit-hitting-the-fan nature of Breaking Bad, mixed with the giddy suspense of a Hitchcock film, this is your cup of tea.
What’s the best about Low Winter Sun?
Detroit, shifty cops, double-crosses, ambitious criminals. The duo of Strong and James is crazy good. From the opening seconds of the premiere, the two actors establish a riveting dynamic using little more than facial expressions and line delivery. On that note, this is a show that respects its audience enough to toss viewers into a situation with minimal information and expect them to engage with the story. This is a murder mystery from the point of view of sympathetic killers; the tightrope walk of staying one step ahead of an ever-changing game certainly works in the pilot, and the storytellers appear confident enough to continue along this course.
Also, did I mention Detroit? This crumbling city has reached a near mythic reputation as the husk of a once thriving metropolis, providing a rich, thematic backdrop for the equally deteriorating ethical codes in the world of LWS. Like a forgotten frontier, the empty buildings and abandoned homes of Motor City function as set pieces in something of a reverse Wild West for brooding neo-noir. Oh, and just because I've used the words "brooding" and "dreary" doesn’t mean the overall effort comes off as depressing or sluggish. There are upbeat moments that relish in the adrenaline rush of planning and committing a murder, in a cool, wrong-but-fun kind of way.
And what’s the not-best/worst?
Early on—before the machine gets going—it feels like AMC just wanted its own version of a cop show, so some of the police stuff comes off a little like well-worn, basic cable territory. Based on the pilot, the show could stand to lean more on adventurous filmmaking like the aforementioned murder-planning sequence, but even saying that feels like splitting hairs for the sake of splitting hairs.
Look I don’t got all day pal: Do I watch this or nah?
Alright, make with the preview!
Psssh, alright for sure:
And just for being a good sport, here’s the first five minutes:
What should I drink while I watch Low Winter Sun?
Brandy and Vernor-brand gingerale (in honor of shifty Detroit founder Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, who swindled naive Native Americans with this very liquor, and pharmacist James Vernor, respectively) .
Low Winter Sun premieres Sunday, August 11 at 10pm on AMC, right after the Season 5B premiere Breaking Bad.
AIRED ON 10/6/2013
Season 1 : Episode 10