Let’s get this out of the way first, Netflix is the leader in high quality VOD programming. The past two or three years it has pioneered the landscape making Oscar worthy entertainment and binge worthy shows of all kinds. Their new series, Seven Seconds, isn’t one of those shows.
A limited series attempts to highlight the racial tensions between Caucasian cops and African American citizens when an off-duty officer accidentally mows down a child on an isolated road. This might be fascinating if the show played in shades of grey but the heroes and villains are pretty well laid out within the first half hour of the first episode.
The cops all sound like bargain basement versions of Turtle in Entourage and most have the same fashion sense. Even the lead character, who didn’t intend to hurt the child, is still such a slime ball that any sympathy you may have had for him is gone the moment he really starts showing his true self. With no one to really root for the journey becomes boring. Even the supposed heroes of the story, a group of church going African Americans, feels like a trope done one too many times before on better shows.
The show seems to have its heart in the right place but it’s copying someone else’s template instead of breaking new ground. Put Homicide: Life on the Street, The Wire and Law and Order in a blender for 10 episodes and you basically get Seven Seconds. It’s a shame too because there’s some real potential with a fairly talented cast.
The biggest waste comes from Regina King who seems to be on autopilot as a mother fighting for her son. But rather than make her a layered character the show turns her, and pretty much everyone else, into one note clichés. Michael Mosley, who plays the aptly named Fish, gets the worst of it though. From his very first line he becomes an exposition machine spouting out random bits of information in the least believable way possible. Again, he’s a good actor but the script gives him nothing to bring to the screen.
Still, the directing just barely saves it. By placing the show in New Jersey during the winter the tone of the series is immediately dark and dreary and that only works in its favor. Honestly had it taken place almost anywhere else and in any other season the cheeriness of the surroundings would totally clash with the tone of the story.
Netflix has had such a great run for so many years with their original content that a few faults along the way are to be expected, it’s the law of averages at work. I’m sure this show will find an audience, just don’t expect it to break any new ground.