TV series review: TNT’s I Am the Night

Streaming services are super for binge-watching shows of all sorts. But every once in a while, good things come to those who wait. Wait, that is, for the next eagerly anticipated episode of a seriously suspenseful series to broadcast.

Such is the case with I AM THE NIGHT, a compelling limited series (six episodes) premiering tonight, January 28, 2019, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) on TNT. A new series to which I was given advanced access by TNT to review and share with you. (Admittedly, my husband and I binge-watched it over two nights. What can I say? It’s part of the job!)

 
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I AM THE NIGHT is directed by Patty Jenkins (WONDER WOMAN) and stars Chris Pine (WONDER WOMAN) and India Eisley (TV’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager). The official blurb from TNT on the series:

Written by Sam Sheridan and inspired by true events, I Am the Night  tells the gripping story of Fauna Hodel (India Eisley), a teenage girl who is given away at birth, and grows up outside of Reno, Nevada. Fauna lives more-or-less comfortably with the mysteries of her origin, until one day she makes a discovery that leads her to question everything. As Fauna begins to investigate the secrets of her past, she meets a ruined reporter (Pine), haunted by the case that undid him. Together they follow a sinister trail that swirls ever closer to an infamous Los Angeles gynecologist, Dr. George Hodel (Jefferson Mays), a man involved in some of Hollywood’s darkest debauchery, and possibly, its most infamous unsolved crime.

That “infamous unsolved crime”? The Black Dahlia murder.

The retro feel of I AM THE NIGHT seems in many ways, to me, like old Twilight Zone episodes at times (if in color) thanks to it being shot on film and featuring dramatic—though not overly so—music and episode endings.

As far as acting, India Eisley, whom I’ve never seen in anything before, does a fantastic job as a young woman on a mission to learn the truth, no matter what it took, no matter what the truth may be.

Chris Pine’s character is unlike anything he’s previously done—a man as obsessed with finding the truth as Hodel yet dealing (poorly) with drug and alcohol abuse, anger issues, and PTSD along the way. I found him a rather unlikable guy in many ways, which means the usually likable actor does a bang-up job as the disparaged, desperate reporter.

While Pine’s character is occasionally unlikable, Jefferson Mays—another actor I don’t recall seeing before—depicts George Hodel as completely creepy and loathsome every single minute he appears on screen. From what I’ve learned, that’s pretty much exactly how I’d feel about Hodel himself in real life, so kudos to Mays.

Regarding plot, Fauna Hodel’s truth comes to light slowly, as it should in a mystery. Yet a few scenes here and there felt unnecessarily slow to me. At first. But as I mentioned, good things come to those who wait, and wading through the minimal sluggish spots of the show ultimately prove worthwhile (and necessary).

As I promised to steer clear of spoilers in my review in exchange for early access to the series, I cannot say much more. I can, though, share the following featurettes from TNT for further enlightenment on I AM THE NIGHT:

Once you watch even the smallest bit of I AM THE NIGHT, it’s a given you’ll want to know more about Fauna Hodel’s story. Thankfully TNT will premiere Root of Evil: The True Story of the Hodel Family and the Black Dahlia, an eight-part podcast companion to the televised series, on January 30 on Apple Podcasts and more. Spoiler warning: The podcast, which I’ve yet to hear, will surely include spoilers. It’s hosted by Fauna Hodel’s daughters and is described as “the Hodel family’s story in their own words, a behind-the-scenes revelation of their family’s crimes, secrets and multi-generational struggles carrying the Hodel name. Family members will open up and share their own psychological traumas and perspectives on their ties to Hollywood’s notorious Black Dahlia murder.”

Find out more about I AM THE NIGHT on the TNT website (no spoilers here!). And be sure to watch the I AM THE NIGHT premiere at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) tonight, January 28, on TNT.

Disclosure: I received free screener access to this series for review purposes; opinions are my own.