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Death and Nightingales: Miniseries (2018)
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CI Joseph Quinn
The performances are mostly strong, but the subject matter is so dense, the cultural and religious details so complex, and the affection toward melodrama so unrepentant.
It is solid entertainment for the darkening winter evenings - and the story of a country in the process of painfully dividing itself has a timeliness of its own.
Billy could easily be a straight-up-and-down villain but Rhys's portrayal is so wonderfully nuanced he brings us a complex man who wants to love but just doesn't know how.
The desired tone, I think, is a kind of Ulster version of Deadwood, a creation parable for the problems of the 20th century, but there is a fine line between powerful and self-parodic.
In a TV drama landscape heavily populated by police procedurals, high-octane thrillers and family psychodramas, this was the rarest of dramatic gems - one that pushes and challenges understanding - and it's impossible not to be drawn in.
It is a heavy drama with lean dialogue and precious little mirth, but I'm being seduced.
Despite the good, the pace of the series is too problematic. There's a strong argument to be made that the whole endeavor could have been distilled down to a more potent two-hour movie.
Beautiful and well-acted, Death and Nightingales nonetheless strains the audience's limit for melodrama.
But for all the trappings of melodrama - stashed coin, poison, secret love trysts and one post-coital dip - it's a bit bewitched by its own lyrical rhythms. Slow. Even ever so moderately dull?
Matters got back on track and by the end the drama was nicely poised to plunge further into darkness.
Audience Reviews for Death and Nightingales: Miniseries
Nov 25, 2020It was an alright time-passer, although very dragged out. I skipped through much of the episodes, as there was alot of backstory which didn't develop, but just kind of went round in circles. The open ended finale made me feel like I had just watched nothing. But the three stars are for the fabulous acting of Matthew Rhys.