“I thought it was fantastic,” declared Gold Derby senior editor Daniel Montgomery \ about “The Night Of” the night after its finale, in a special slugfest all about the HBO miniseries. Added contributing writer Tony Ruiz, “This series never had a lull [and] the conclusion was immensely satisfying.” This seemed to be the consensus of our group, which also included contributing writer Amanda Spears. Watch our complete video chat above.
Surprisingly, our admiration for the series was slightly at odds with the critical consensus, which started so favorably — 90 on Metacritic — and has since petered out somewhat. That is also reflected by some comments in the Gold Derby forum. “It did kind of struggle a little bit with its identity,” Amanda admitted. “Is this about a guy coming to jail and starting to be integrated into that society, or is it about the criminal aspect of it?”
“The Night Of” has been noted for its realism, which is not conducive to the kinds of bombastic performances that tend to win Emmys, but a host of character actors were able to work with the subtle material to deliver some of the performances of their careers. We were especially taken with lead actor John Turturro (2004 Emmy winner for Best Comedy Guest Actor in “Monk”) as defense attorney John Stone, supporting actor Bill Camp (a Tony-nominee with decades of TV credits but no Emmy nominations, including this past year in “The Leftovers”) as detective Dennis Box and supporting actress Jeannie Berlin (1972 Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actress in “The Heartbreak Kid”) as prosecuting attorney Helen Weiss.
The actor who received perhaps the greatest showcase was lead actor Riz Ahmed (2014 Indie Spirit nominee for Best Supporting Actor in “Nightcrawler”) as defendant Naz Khan. Amanda admired his physical transformation and is trying to be optimistic about his chances. She said, “I’m just hoping that the Golden Globes do what the Golden Globes do best and give him this award … this is right up their alley to reward someone who’s brand new.” Ben Whishaw won an International Emmy for the equivalent role in the British series “Criminal Justice” on which “The Night Of” is based. “Criminal Justice” proved to be so successful that it was converted from a miniseries to an anthology series, and HBO could now consider doing the same.
Below is a rundown of our entire discussion.
00:00 — Reactions to the Finale
03:30 — Story Contrivances & Plot Devices
12:05 — Emmy Prognostication
15:25 — The Layered Performances
27:35 — General Discussion
33:10 — Potential Series Continuation
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