2015, TV

Show Me a Hero (2015)

I have to say I sort of screwed myself here; my expectations were sky-high.

This is a compelling, affecting and incredibly relevant miniseries about a public housing crisis in Yonkers in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. (I say it’s relevant because as it was airing, a government employee has made the news refusing to uphold the law. Also, it is incredibly relevant given the on-going war on black people in the US.) It is stocked with a whole bunch of great and name actors playing fairly insignificant roles, which results in a an incredible sense of place and great characterizations. With the exception of one man – and you’ll know him when you see him, trust me – the cast is utterly fantastic, and that helps a lot.

And the reason I say the cast helps is that this is a preachy, preachy show. Maybe I’ve changed, but I don’t remember The Wire or Generation Kill being like this. As the girlfriend points out, it’s like they don’t have faith in the audience: scenes last a beat too long to make sure we get the point. I want to blame this on Haggis – a director I do not admire – but he is not the problem. Actually, he’s one of the series’ strengths, along with its excellent cast.

This sounds like I didn’t like it, and that’s not true. It’s mostly excellent. Save one unnecessary set of shots at the very end, the last episode is extremely poignant and powerful and there are moments throughout the series that ring way too true and really provoke you to think about how the more things change, the more they stay the same. But somebody should have toned down the message just a tad. It’s too heavy-handed to be a classic.

8/10

  • Based on Show Me a Hero (1999) by Lisa Belkin
  • Written by David Simon, William F. Zorzi
  • Directed by Paul Haggis
  • Starring:
    • Oscar Isaac
    • Bob Balaban
    • Jim Belushi
    • Jon Bernthal
    • Dominique Fishback
    • Ilfenesh Hadera
    • LaTanya Richardson Jackson
    • Catherine Keener
    • Terry Kinney
    • Alfred Molina
    • Natalie Paul
    • Peter Riegert
    • Carla Quevedo
    • Winona Ryder
  • Ending theme “When the People Find Out” by Steve Earle
  • Composer: Nathan Larson
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Original language: English
  • No. of episodes: 6
  • Executive producers: David Simon, William F. Zorzi, Paul Haggis, Nina Kostroff Noble, Gail Mutrux
  • Production locations: Yonkers, New York; Puerto Rico
  • Cinematography: Andrij Parekh
  • Editors: Jo Francis, Kate Sanford
  • Camera setup: Single-camera
  • Running time: 350 minutes
  • Production companies: Blown Deadline Productions, Pretty Pictures, HBO Miniseries
  • Distributor: HBO
  • Original network: HBO
  • Picture format: 1080i (HDTV)
  • Original release: August 16 – August 30, 2015

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