Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Low Winter Sun

I sat down to watch Low Winter Sun recently. I had high hopes for the show. I had seen the original version. That one was set in Edinburgh, Scotland. I thought that the original was one of the better shows I had seen. It was filled with creative plot twists that kept me wondering. So, when AMC broadcast their version, I thought that it might be good. It's not. In fact, it's terrible. I think the problem is that the Scottish version was two episodes, totaling about three and a half hours. The AMC version is ten episodes, each forty-five minutes long. Clearly, the AMC version was going to need some filler. The writers kept the original story but grafted on an absurd companion tale. This subplot involved some would-be gangsters stealing cocaine from a crime boss and blah, blah, blah. You've seen this a million times. When you take a tight, three-hour story and try to make it open-ended, the quality has to suffer. That's what happened here.

What most intrigued me, I think, about the new Low Winter Sun, was that it was set in Detroit. It featured homicide detectives. That sounds pretty familiar to me. I wanted to see how the director would depict the City as well as the detectives. I think they were pretty good about showing the decrepit Detroit Police Headquarters. They got the “ruin porn” down, as well. But that's not complicated. All they had to do was stop anywhere in the City and get some B Roll footage. Detroit did all the hard work. With a smart phone, you could go to Detroit and shoot evocative images of decay. One thing that Low Winter Sun really missed on was the race issue. I presume they wanted a mostly-white cast for ratings purposes. But, this seems at odds with reality. That said, race is very hard to deal with. I, myself, avoided it almost entirely.

I could not help thinking what Heroes or Smoke would look like on film. It might bear some resemblance to what the new Low Winter Sun looks like. But I would hope that a film version would get a lot more of the details right. I would be delighted if Heroes and Smoke and Exile (and the others I have yet to publish) made it onto the big screen. The actors in Low Winter Sun, especially Mark Strong, could do the project nicely. I see Strong as Christopher Garvin more than George Hofmann.

If you have not yet seen the AMC version of Low Winter Sun, do yourself a favor and skip it. Seek out the original. That is a superb story well told.

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