TNT premiered its new drama (excuse us — event series) “Mob City” Wednesday (dec. 4), a hard-boiled noir from former “Walking Dead” showrunner Frank Darabont. It was an anticipated return to TV for the auteur following his unceremonious ousting from AMC’s zombie drama and, well — at least it looked pretty?
The two-hour premiere of the series, telling the tale of the epic battle between L.A. Police Chief William Parker (Neal McDonough) and the mobsters threatening his town in 1947, presents a sumptuous-looking period piece with remarkable attention to detail. But beyond that, it all feels a little bit overblown.
The show certainly has all the trappings of a successful noir: There’s the cop with the shifty motives (Jon Bernthal‘s Det. Joe Teague), a rogues gallery of mobsters including Ed Burns‘ Bugsy Siegel and the dame caught up in the mix (Alexa Davalos — the only dame in cast, it should be noted). So why did these two hours feel so boring?
For starters, it all feels a little one note. By hewing closely to the tradition of noir, the series passes over any sort of opportunity for a subversion of expectations. While that painstaking attention to detail makes the set design such an achievement, it saps the narrative from any potential energy.
And then there’s the fact that TNT has chosen to air the six-hour series in three two-hour blocks. As straight-faced and slow as “Mob City” can be, forcing viewers to sit through two hours of it at time is a particularly odd choice.
The network can call it an event all it wants, but by dumping it in three short weeks just before the holidays, it feels like more of an attempt to burn off the show. And that’s cause for head-scratching considering the pedigree and obvious budget.
What did you think of “Mob City”? Did the event series live up to its billing for you?