Snowfall (2017– )
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For those of you who wrote negative reviews, I can understand if it isn't your type of show. The most popular TV shows on today such as reality shows I can not stand yet they seem to get the most attention - we all like what we like. I think the acting has been great so far, and I feel as if I can connect with the actors and I imagine it will get even better with time. I like shows that feel like they can be halfway realistic and not ones that have over the top action where the good guy always wins and never runs out of ammo as he shoots his way through the whole show. So far this show has felt fairly realistic and very plausible, I just hope it stays that way.
One other thing I would like to mention is I love shows that take us back in time such as 11/22/63 or Boardwalk Empire etc. I believe this one was done very well in that regard, the scenery is great and really brings you back to that time period. Some shows like to make the past look different in some regard but with this show it is bright and looks the same as if you were there in the 80s with them.
Will this show stay on track and be one of the greatest shows? I don't know but I certainly hope so. For now I rated it as a 9, but it has the potential to be an easy 10/10, or take a dive down to a 5/10. But it is most certainly worth watching a couple episodes to see if you like it unless you are the type of person that gets upset with the sight of drugs or criminal activities and prefer a fairy tale type of show or fake reality shows.
Snowfall began by showing the disconnect between the have and have-nots, and the solutions provided to close that gap. Reality can be very ugly, and be the basis for an ugly truth, that crack/cocaine stole the hopes and dreams of a society.
The landscapes where most of the events take place, are not stylized and cocaine use was not sensationalized. The character development, supplied in this pilot, prepares us for the horrific ride we are about to embark.
The writing was a mirror reflection of those turbulent times.
In the diversity department, this one stacks up well, even next to 'Sons'. There are well-developed characters who are white, Jewish, Israeli, African-American, and Mexican. Significant portions of dialogue are in Spanish. The setting is Los Angeles. Personally I appreciate the mix of plots and subplots and how that relates to the different characters, their families and businesses. The diversity factor should, in the long run, serve to drive home the basic point of the plot, which is, Privileged White Dude(s) were responsible for the cocaine that fueled the LA crack epidemic of the 80's.
The rape scene of Episode 3 illustrates, symbolically how cocaine directly or indirectly fuels the violence of drug gangsterism. The historical and political subtext of 'Snowfall' boils down to this: the CIA-enabled cocaine trade in LA in the 80's made a whole bunch of people -- mostly not white people -- do horrible things. That's the truth of the matter, which could make this series great, if it's told well enough. So far I think it's a terrible story told amazingly well. The images of violence are gut-wrenching, because they are so well-depicted in terms of the action development. Special-effects-wise, at least some of the blood (on a T-shirt, in a bar) looked like ketchup. But small special-effects glitches like that don't matter when the writing, acting and direction have chutzpah like this.
I'm making note of the historical accuracy of the plot (i.e. how many different ethnicities did you ever score coke from in the 80's?), which so far is easy to follow. The casting is excellent. With its abundance of fresh talented faces, the series has star-making potential.
The success of the series will come down to direction and writing, in my thought. The story has to get deeper, slowly, and the directorial style has to remain consistent. So far (two episodes in), so good.
As someone well-traveled in America, north south east and west, and also who observed cocaine consumption and its attendant dramas on a variety of occasions in the 1980's, I find this a richly satisfying drama. The last shot of episode 2 is brilliant.
But this stands out, not because it's better, those shows are awesome and this is just starting out, but because it has the exact feel, sense, and in fact you can almost smell the authenticity from the outset. That sounds bizarre, I know, it came from my head, but watch an episode and you will know what I mean. It is gritty, holds no punches, but at the same time it isn't that graphically violent, except a couple of places, it leads the viewer into working things out for themselves, pretty much the same way halt and catch fire does, you are left to work things out like a puzzle, with confirmation shortly after and a pat on the back to yourself, which makes for great TV in my opinion!
OK, it is a bit sceptical in places, could a young lad scale the heights he does, but I believe it is more of an overview of what life was like then and how poverty and tough climatic times can make you seek out something that you may otherwise never consider, which is quite in tune for a lot of people these days, one paycheck from the food bank!
Ultimately, this tells a relatively true story, but not centred around specific real life characters, and has a flexible feel to the actual situation back then, but that's drama and it does work out without you thinking, that's just not plausible. I would call this an indie style title, because I suspect it will go unnoticed a lot by people, but maybe a couple of years down the line it will get noticed and become a classic, bit like Banshee became and that bodes well given that it appears to have a second season green lit, which is great considering it was initially a 1 season docu-drama (as I understand)!
The show definitely has enough moments to keep me watching but overall it's a disappointment. The acting is hacky. Avi for example chews up every scene he's in. We get it. He's wacky and dangerous. The actor doesn't pull it off and instead of being impulsive and menacing he comes off as trying too hard and as a joke. Overall, the acting with two exceptions, franklin and cissy, are either way over the top or too self conscious. They don't seem authentic.
The show has a great soundtrack, and often the right inner city 1980 vibe. The story is muddled. There are many stories, four main ones, about a dealer, distributors, king pin, and CIA. Yet with so much going on it seems empty. They make a lot of noise, maybe to distract from the reality, they don't have a lot to say. Which is s shame cause there should be too much material to fill 12 episodes. There are moments, like when franklin is waiting for the bus in the hot sun and buys a motorcycle that work. That's why he's doing this. To get rid of the shame of poverty and to feel liberated. The near riot at the apartment complex cissy works at reveals the racial tension in the city and foreshadows the riots to come.
Moments like these make you hope the characters and actors will feel comfortable inside their roles and a good coherent story is told thru them. So far most of the time it is failing.
****Update, I was pretty turned off with the rape scene on the show but soldiered on and just finished the season finale. It's actually a good show and the season finale brought it full circle with much to look forward to next season.
No interesting characters, dull and predictable dialogue and no real narrative tension and drive. And - the characters are so thin with no real sense of conflict other than what the culture and environment contribute as a given (hint: NOT ENOUGH!!!). Also - the way the characters are introduced is confusing and boring. I not only had no empathy for anything about the characters...but NOTHING AND I MEAN NOTHING was even remotely interesting. Bad writing. Period. This turkey is dead on arrival.
Stereotyped characters and predictable conflicts. I laughed in the first episode when the super wealthy but loony Israeli drug Kingpin meets a teen age ghetto hood and within 30 minutes he is fronting the guy a Kilo of coke. WTF?? 'You've got some balls, kid. I like you. Sure...here take a Kilo of Coke!' And the ghetto-secret disco cat-house where they have a safe full of cash to buy Keys off strange kids no question. It's so bad you just laugh at this crap. "Give him 16 grand! No problem." All of the acting is done in earnest. Pretty much unknown ethnic actors cashing a check for doing their stereotypes. I can't blame them. The direction is at least competent and straightforward.
But the story....cheesy as they come. 3rd rate clichéd writing, predictable conflicts, bad dialogue.
Not working for me.
The main story, and the most interesting one, is about Franklin Saint (Damson Idris), a young black entrepreneur who hopes to make enough money to solve all his problems. When a rich white friend asks him to ride along and then send him inside to buy coke from Avi Dexter (Alon Aboutboul), he learns that he can make more money from selling coke than weed. The coke turns a profit nicely but garners attention and Franklin is jumped for his cash. He seeks out help from Leon Simmons (Isaiah John) and others but the search for his money turns violent. Franklin quickly learns that there is more to the coke game than supply and demand. When he really works to turn a profit is when he heads up to Los Angeles to learn more about the mysterious recipe of mixing the cocaine with baking soda. This accelerates his business and leads to what will eventually be the crack epidemic. We only see the start of this change but already know the future.
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The whole part where the Mexicans kill the security guard to cast suspicion on him as per the stolen money isn't even depicted. I mean, if it was just some matter-of-fact occurrence that goes off without a hitch then fine, dialogue after the fact can cover it and bring the viewer up to speed. But as it was, it seemed like it caused a major paradigm shift in the trio's relationship, the 'Bear' was injured...etc... yet we're left with only vague mention of what actually happened.
Same with the plane crash. Why not clarify how it happened instead of thrusting this flash-forward on us when there's nothing of a reveal involved?
Then the editing... my god, how choppy can you get? The rape scene was cut away from so many times that it drained it of most all of its tension. They're interrogating/intimidating the guy for ten seconds, then it's off to some other story thread where nothing happens, then another few seconds, rinse and repeat...
After being annoyed by that scene, I started noticing the same pattern again and again...
Like I said, maybe there is redemption in store but as it stands, the story/editing is high school level at best.