HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Night Of
HTS Overall Score:74
Sadly I don’t have HBO on my cable television docket anymore. I had to switch to Satellite and they wanted to charge an arm and a leg so it was one channel I let go rather reluctantly. However, I rabidly follow their digital and physical releases quite avidly, but for some reason I was COMPLETELY blindsided by “The Night of”. I hadn’t heard a single thing about it until I saw the press release and trailer, but was sucked in just by that few minute trailer. I wanted it IMMEDIATELY and started doing some research into the show. The critical responses were favorable to say the least. I’d say bordering on almost fanatic praise and I knew that my gut instincts were right. This was going to be a show to be reckoned with. Thankfully I was not disappointed in the least (sometimes hyped up expectations lead to crushing disappointment when you find out that the show/film isn’t as good as all the raving made it out to be). Turturro is on top of his game and newcomer Riz Ahmed gives a near flawless performance.
“The Night of” is a strangely subversive and disturbing tale of murder and woe. The show starts out generically enough. Naz (Riz Ahmed) is a young college student who is invited out to a party that he REALLY wants to go to, but can’t seem to get away due to his strict parents. Purloining his dad’s cab he sneaks out of the house to go to the party but ends up accidentally picking up a young woman. Instead of going to the party he spends the night getting to know the strange, yet hypnotic, girl and soon ends up back at her place. Plying Naz with a few illicit drugs and some booze the young guy ends up nodding off soon after arrival and wakes up to find her dead. Stabbed to death in a completely savage and vicious manner. The naïve young man bolts from the scene as fast as he can and races home, but is unluckily intercepted by the police on the way home and picked up for reckless driving, only to be charged with murder once they trace his steps back to the apartment where he spend the night.
Needless to say the evidence is NOT complimentary to Naz’s testimony. He had a knife in his possession, the girl’s blood is on his hands from coming in contact with her, he was fleeing the scene and multiple witnesses put the two of them together that night. However, ambulance chasing lawyer John Stone spies the doe eyed kid in the cell block out of pure luck and decides to take his case pro bono. Now John himself is not exactly the hero of the political and criminal justice world. He serves low life’s and bums to get off with lighter sentences, but it’s not actually let on early in the show whether he just took pity on the kid, or whether he sees a big break. That’s something that needs to be watched and let unfold on its own rather than let me explain any more. In fact I’m not going to mention ANY more major plot points as “The Night of” thrives on letting the viewer take in the story piece by piece.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=82794[/img]“The Night of” is actually based on the BBC show “Criminal Justice”, but adds a flair completely its own. The show is kind of artsy at times, focusing on hands, feet and other inanimate objects in a hypnotic and mesmerizing way. However, there is also some of the typical thrown in as well. We see elements of “Law and Order” and other police procedurals thrown in for good measure. That being said, the real draw of the show is watching the inner workings of the criminal justice system work (or not work in other ways). Every episode draws you in to the completely twisted and warped world that is law and order in our society and leaves you with this sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. No one is completely good and no one is completely bad, but the system corrupts all whom it touches and nothing is clearer than watching John Stone and Detective Box face off against each other. Both men devout in their beliefs and their methodologies. Methodologies that are actually ADMIRABLE and good, but with decidedly different outcomes.
Like HBO’s “True Detective” the show is completely sold and made on the backs of the characters. The casting is nothing short of magnificent and I was blown away by Turturro’s performance in particular. He usually is known for his comedic stylings, and while he does have few caustically humorous moments, it’s the dramatic role that really defines him here. Twisted and sleazy, but honorable and compassionate. The two dichotomies make for an engrossing character to fall in love/hate with. The same goes for detective Box. A man who is TRULY trying to do his job to the best of his abilities, but you watch becoming part of the very same problem that keeps people from trusting the criminal justice system. A man doing what he does best, but what he does best is not always nice. Even if it sometimes is necessary. Especially when you’re rooting for Naz the whole time.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=82802[/img]I can’t verify the EXACT cameras used for the filming of “The Night of” but it very obviously is a digital source. One that looks very nice given the unique styling of the creators. Clarity can be razor sharp with amazing detail on faces and objects in the foreground, however the show has an almost “artsy” flair to it with objects in the foreground getting focused on, while the background remains slightly out of focus and diffused. Camera shots linger on things like hands and feet, letting us soak in the twitches and nervous adjustments made, while suddenly staring for long periods of time at a blank wall or an area saturated in darkness. Being that the show is entitled “The Night of” be aware that there is LOTS of darkness and bleakly dim lit settings. Even the daylight bits tend to have that teal and ash grey look with a desaturated color palette that focuses on blues, greys and some earthen browns. Shadow detail is usually quite good, but crush seeps in here and there and a little bit of banding occurs on the out of focus objects.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=82810[/img]“The Night of” is a very talky type of show. Not a whole lot happens outside of the dialog (but there are some more boisterous moments). The majority of the runtime is dialog between Detective Box, Naz, and John Stone. There are some moments where the surrounds get some activity, such as the city streets at night and the rumbling of New York as John goes to court. The same goes for the lockup cell and prison where Naz is transferred to with the voices of inmates yelling at each and the crash of prison bars in the background. LFE is mild but still quite decent, with the city subway accenting some nice weight and the sounds of some hip hop music playing in a few background scenes. It’s a good track, but a rather straightforward and mild mannered track that does what is asked of it, but nothing more.
• Nada, nothing, zip
“The Night of” is one of the most startling releases by HBO in the last several years. They have put out some great stuff, but also some mediocre “shock fest” type of material as well. “The Night of” is a well-crafted crime drama that just oozes intensity and emotional impact every step of the way. No one is sure of anything, not even the viewer and that sort of draw is intoxicating as any illicit substance out there. Turturro is amazing as the almost sleazy, almost hero lawyer who steps in as the only one who even REMOTELY believes Naz, and Riz Ahmed is completely captivating. The show sadly is devoid of ANY extras, which is a rarity for HBO studio releases. Audio and video are solid, but not breathtaking, but do not let that dissuade you from watching one of the best self-contained TV shows in quite a few years.
Starring: Riz Ahmed, Bill Camp, John Turturro
Created by: Richard Price, Steven Zaillian
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DTS 2.0
Runtime: 524 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: October 18th, 2015
Buy The Night Of Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Must Watch
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