Director Frank Darabont’s film output might be a little spotty, and rarely the stuff of big hits, his work in television is markedly stronger. That may be due, in large part, to his infusion of cinematic pacing and flourish to the small screen. This is readily apparent in “The Walking Dead,” wherein everything after the Darabont-directed pilot suffers somewhat in comparison, even the successful episodes. So, at the very least, we can expect his written-and-directed by pilot for new TNT drama “L.A. Noir” will be worth watching, while also setting the bar too high for later installments.
Rather than bringing the video game L.A. Noire to procedural episodic life or turning L.A. Confidential into a serialized weekly drama, Darabont’s new show will be an adaptation of the non-fictional book L.A. Noir. Considering that each exists in the realm of sun bleached days, rain drenched nights, and more fedoras than anyone in the 1940s actually wore, confusion is inevitable. And that extra “E” means nothing to Google, by the by. The book is about the real events surrounding the fight over Los Angeles between Mickey Cohen — Bugsy Siegel’s ex-muscle — and William H. Paker — descendant of a lawman from Deadwood. The description over at Amazon definitely sets up a “Boardwalk Empire” vibe for the future of the TV show:
Midcentury Los Angeles. A city sold to the world as “the white spot of America,” a land of sunshine and orange groves, wholesome Midwestern values and Hollywood stars, protected by the world’s most famous police force, the Dragnet-era LAPD. Behind this public image lies a hidden world of “pleasure girls” and crooked cops, ruthless newspaper tycoons, corrupt politicians, and East Coast gangsters on the make. Into this underworld came two men-one L.A.’s most notorious gangster, the other its most famous police chief-each prepared to battle the other for the soul of the city.
Darabont also recently decided to shed some light on the possible creative difficulties he had with AMC over “The Walking Dead” season two. In a letter to AICN, he goes into pretty great detail over his planned premiere episode, and while it sounds fantastic, it doesn’t do anything to assuage thoughts of “What if…?” he hadn’t been shitcanned. Still, it’s worth reading if you don’t mind spoilers for what the show might still do in later episodes or seasons. But here’s a salient bit that I think does offer proof of the type of creative direction he would have brought to “Walking Dead,” and might yet bring to “L.A. Noir”:
“The notion was to take the ‘throwaway’ tank zombie Rick encountered in the pilot, and tell that soldier’s story. Make him the star of his own movie, follow his journey, but don’t reveal who he is until the end. The idea being that every zombie has a story, every undead extra was once a human being with a life of his/her own…was, in a sense, the star of his own life’s movie. And we’ve followed this one particular guy and seen how his life ended; we witness his struggles, see his good intentions and his failures, and we experience his godawful death in this tank. That’s why I cast Sam as that tank zombie in the first place instead of just casting some extra. I had this story in mind while filming the pilot, and I knew I’d need a superb actor to play that soldier when the time came.”
C’est la vie, eh?
Rob Payne also writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter @RobOfWar, and his ware can be purchased here (if you’re into that sort of thing). He’s not sure why he got a little flowery there at the end, but he’s okay with it.