by: Amanda Everest, Contributor
Murder In The First is a suspenseful and entertaining drama that connects the audience with the characters from the very beginning and demands the story be followed. While the idea of following one case through a season isn’t particularly new in the world of television, it’s a strong format for TNT, whose previous successful shows like “The Closer” and “Rizzoli and Isles” have solidified their acceptance into the world of dramatic television. It feels more procedural than other shows where one case span an entire season but dramatic enough that it keeps one intrigued. Steven Bochco, the man behind such hits as NYPD Blue and LA Law, brings this series to TNT with Eric Lodal and one thing’s for sure; this isn’t just another cop show.
From the beginning, “Murder In The First” is a well-paced drama with a balance of strong characters and a story that’s full of intrigue. Hildy Mulligan (Kathleen Robertson), a single divorced mother whose haphazardness we all can connect with, must deal with an ex who doesn’t seem to be around. Meanwhile, Terry English’s (Taye Diggs) emotional struggle with his terminally-ill wife and the struggle of letting go is one that others can, unfortunately, relate to and adds a deep emotional level to the episode. As the detectives arrive at the crime scene of a drug dealer English, dealing with his wife’s fate, sees her face in the victim’s as his concerned partner takes lead. A letter on an iPad sent to none other than Erich Blunt (Tom Felton), a young twenty-something Silicon Valley entrepreneur of APPLESN, an app tech company in San Francisco specializing in the figure digital age, throws the story into drive.
With the detectives learning about the victim and his connection to Blunt secrets begin to emerge as the truth of Blunt’s history and character is revealed. As a charming-yet-ruthless product of Silicon Valley, Felton’s portrayal of the character is spot-on, bringing the crazy from the character to full potential. A hint of that begins to emerge as his smart and witty lawyer, played by Richard Schiff of “The West Wing,” suggests a settlement against a collaborator-turned-enemy, and Blunt is emphatic in his demand that he gets nothing. The quiet but seething personality awakens due to a mistake from the flight attendant that proves the ride during the season will be interesting. When the flight-attendant-but-sort-of-ex-girlfriend of Blunt ends up murdered, the questions really start; are the murders of the drug dealer and flight attendant related? What is the extent of Blunt’s ruthlessness?
The story at the core of this season is an intriguing and seemingly complex one and the twists and turns are just beginning to appear. The establishing parts could have been setup in a more time-conscious and effective way but lacks the slow start which I had been anticipating; a pleasant surprise in this show. In addition to a heavy plot that must be paid attention to, many characters played by veteran actors including James Cromwell and Steven Weber will soon appear and with that much talent in the cast it begs the question of being just the right balance or having too much to keep the storyline front and center.
With a strong cast including Taye Diggs, Kathleen Robertson, and Tom Felton, “Murder In The First” is brought to life with a new type of detective show that hooks and reels us in. While a lot of time was wasted on setup that could have helped aid the story more, it quickly turned into a slow-burn that begin racing to the next part. With an artful quality and multi-cultural cast, something that few shows have, “Murder In The First” is definitely worth a watch and could just be the show TV needs to elevate detective shows to another level.
Amanda is a producer and writer currently having the time of her life in Los Angeles. She can frequently be seen with a pen, notebook, and a cup of tea.