Dr. George Hill Hodel, a name that some of you will know, others will not. Hodel was an American physician in Los Angeles and was a prime suspect in the murder of Elizabeth Short, a.k.a. The Black Dahlia.
There is potential that Hodel was also the Zodiac killer, behind the Lipstick Murders and The Jigsaw Murder in the Philippines, so a five-part mini-series is going to be killer, right?
Produced by Patty Jenkins, the director of Wonder Woman and Monster, who also directs three of the five episodes, I Am The Night follows Fauna Hodel, India Eisely (“Underworld Awakening”, “Kite”), the granddaughter of Dr. George Hodel.
Singletary’s life is in the dumps after he wrote a piece on George Hodel and an alleged abortion clinic he was running. Hodel was incredibly well connected however, and nothing could ever be proven, he used his power to ruin Singletary.
We’re in mid-sixties American and Fauna is a mixed-race girl, brought up by Jimmy Lee, Golden Brooks (“Girlfriends (TV)”, “Beauty Shop”). One-day she learns she is adopted and sets out to find her nice-rich white family and begins by contacting her grandfather, the good Dr. George Hodel, Jefferson Mays (“The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs“, “Inherent Vice”).
Whilst this is going on, a strange man, Dylan Smith (“Lemonade”, “Spectral“), in a big black car keeps following Fauna about the place, but no-one is quite sure why, or seems to ask too many questions about it.
In LA, Fauna stays at her aunts house, whilst trying to find out about her family and meet Dr. Hodel. Instead she meets Corinna, Connie Nielsen (“Wonder Woman“, “Stratton“), the strange, riddle-talking sister of Dr. Hodel.
Eventually, Fauna and Singletary meet, and eventually after that, realise they want the same thing. Fauna wants to meet her real mom and Singletary thinks she’s the key to finding out the truth behind the good doctor.
I Am The Night could, and perhaps should, have been a fascinating look at the man who is alleged to be behind some awful, awful crimes and, if true, one of the most prolific serial killers we’ve ever seen.
Instead we’re left to follow Fauna around, who just comes across as a brat, and Singletary, who is one of the most inept people ever to appear on screen. It can make for a frustrating watch.
We get very little of Mays, with the creepy Dylan Smith getting more screen-time. So, I Am The Night is not about George Hodel, it’s about Fauna, it says it’s based on her life (she even gets a co-producing credit and writing credit despite sadly passing in 2017).
The trouble is, it isn’t half as interesting as writer Sam Sheridan (“Seal Team (TV)”) would like us to think. Despite being just five episodes, the show feels slow and plods along at a sedate pace that means, often, you’ve reached the conclusion before the show gets there.
Pine puts two and two together mostly whilst staring at photos in his car, the same photos, over and over again, or waking-up in after a cocaine binge and amazingly being alert enough at the right moment to hear the nugget of information he needs.
The good? Well, the sets, the cars, the clothes are wonderful, as is the directing from Jenkins, Victoria Mahoney (“Claws (TV)”, “Grey’s Anatomy (TV)”) and Carl Franklin (“Mindhunter (TV)”, “Ray Donovan (TV)”).
Both Pine and Eisley are great in their respective roles though it’s Brooks who steals the show. Each time she’s on-screen she is wonderful, subtle at times and big and brash when required.
The first episode is nice, really nice, and gives you the sense this is going to be a great little show. Sadly, as time goes by, it just reverts to being a cliché-ridden show with a focus on the wrong person in the story.
I Am the Night will premiere in the US on TNT in January 2019.