The Night Of is an eight-part HBO miniseries written by Steve Zaillian (Moneyball) and Richard Price. It is an American adaptation of the British show Criminal Justice. The Night Of stars Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler) as Nasir Khan, a man accused of murdering a girl on the Upper West Side of New York. John Turturro, an extremely talented actor who is, rather unfortunately, widely known by my generation for playing an eccentric Jewish government operative in the Transformers film series, plays Nasir’s lawyer Jack Stone. The series is set to have its broadcast premiere on July 10th. The pilot episode was released on June 24th via HBO’s on-demand streaming services.
I discovered this show while browsing social media when someone posted a link to this trailer, commenting that it gives off vibes reminiscent to the brilliant first season of True Detective, and it does. (The less that can be said about True Detective’s second season, the better.) I hopped on HBO Now planning to find something to watch, and conveniently, the first episode of this series popped up when I logged in.
Nasir Khan is a young college student with a loving family. One night, he steals his father’s cab to go to a party and ends up meeting a beautiful young woman who gets him out of a sticky situation. They grow romantically close throughout the long night, and they eventually go to bed together. Nasir wakes up to find the young woman dead and escapes in the cab, but is picked up for reckless driving and a DUI. Ironically, the patrol car that picks him up also responds to the call for the dead woman, taking Nasir back to the scene of the crime. No one suspects anything more than drunk driving, though, and he is taken down to the station for booking. Through circumstance at the station, they figure Nasir was at the scene, and he is suspected of murder, arrested, and interrogated. What will follow in the upcoming episodes is Nasir and Jack Stone attempting to clear his name whilst Detective Lucas follows up with the investigation of the young woman.
The Night Of’s premiere episode shows tremendous promise and, though it’s not Matthew Mcconaughey nihilistically philosophizing about the cyclical nature of time, it should very well fill the hole left by the best drama of 2014. The cinematography of this show is excellent, and may very well be the best camera work I have seen on television since True Detective itself. The actors are excellent and Nasir is an empathetic, if somewhat naive and foolish character that audiences will feel for. Also excellent is Jeff Wincott as Detective Lucas, the man assigned to investigate the death of the young woman Nasir is accused of killing. John Turturro is awesome, and that’s all I have to say about that.
Richard Price is known for writing HBO’s The Wire, and the realism and groundedness featured in that show returns here. In some ways, this show feels like a spiritual successor to the realistic cop drama that changed television standards forever. The circumstances surrounding Lucas’ initial investigation feel very real, and Price is to thank for that, I think.
The Night Of will probably go places. The premiere episode was nigh outstanding and I hope it continues to be.