Watch out for "Narcos,” an acclaimed new drama based on the rise of the Medellin drug cartels, to join its Netflix stablemates “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black” and “Master of None” when nominations are announced for the Critics Choice and Golden Globe TV Awards in the coming weeks.
Set in the seedy underbelly of Colombia, “Narcos” tells the shocking story of the rise of the notorious “King of Cocaine” Pablo Escobar in the 1970s and 1980s. Brazilian actor Wagner Moura is outstanding as this larger-than-life character. In the the course of its first 10 episodes, "Narcos" dramatizes the brutal and bloody war between the cartels, led by Esobar, and American drug enforcement, led by DEA agent Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook).
The series was created by Chris Brancato, Carlo Bernard and Doug Miro, and the first two episodes were directed by Brazilian filmmaker Jose Padilha who won the Golden Bear at Berlin in 2008 for his first feature film "Elite Squad," which starred Moura.
Among the many rave reviews were these four from some of the nation's leading TV critics:
Neil Genzlinger (New York Times): “It’s built on sharp writing and equally sharp acting, as any good series needs to be.”
Matthew Gilbert (Boston Globe): “As a TV antihero, Escobar is an enigma. But I can say that Narcos is nevertheless addictive, compelling, shocking, and even educational.”
Margaret Lyons (New York): “In addition to being a terrifically solid ten episodes, Narcos feels like the most of-its-moment show that any show has ever been–a distillation of the best, or at least the trendiest, aspects of contemporary television and film.”
Tirdad Derakshani (Philadelphia Inquirer): “Intense, enlightening, brilliant, unnerving, and addictive, Narcos is high-concept drama at its finest.”
With such glowing notices, it is not surprising that both show and star are predicted to reap nominations at the Critics' Choice TV Awards. Moura is sitting in fourth place (with odds of 10/1) for Best TV Drama Actor and “Narcos” ranks fifth (again, at 10/1) on our Drama Series chart.
These kudos, bestowed by the Broadcast Television Journalist Association, were just combined with the film awards. That means a one-time shortened eligibility period with only shows airing from June 1 to December 31 up for consideration. That means no "The Americans," which won Best Drama at the summer edition of these kudos. "Game of Thrones," which swept the Emmys, is ineligible as well. Ditto "Justified" and "Better Call Saul." And other past contenders, such as "The Good Wife" and "Empire," remain in the mix but only for their episodes from the fall season.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hands out the Golden Globes, loves to embrace new shows. With that in mind, we could be underestimating how well "Narcos" will do here as it currently sits in 12th on our Drama Series chart while Moura is in the 10th slot for Best TV Drama Actor.
However, it might be more of an uphill battle for a new show like “Narcos” to make an impact with SAG voters though. They tend to take comfort in honoring the same shows year in year out, much like their Emmy brethren.
Make your Critics Choice TV Awards predictions starting with Best TV Drama Series at the bottom of this post.
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Photo: Wagner Moura in "Narcos" Credit: Netflix.