Review: Grounded in Reality, In The Dark is a Love Child of Past Network Favorites

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In The Dark is a surprising series for The CW. 

Among a slew of superhero shows, soapy dramas, and supernatural flair, In The Dark is the most grounded in reality of the network's entire roster of dramas.

Is that a bad thing for the show's long-term prospects? I'm not sure, but it's certainly a breath of fresh air for viewers tiring of the network churning out similar shows. 

Murphy and Pretzel - In The Dark

Starring Perry Mattfield (Shameless) as a blind woman who is thrust into a dangerous search for her best friend Tyson after she seemingly finds his lifeless body in the alley next to her apartment building, the show tells a convincing tale of a blind woman pushed to her limit.

It borrows some elements from Veronica Mars to help unspool the mystery at hand, and that's a good thing. 

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It helps matters that the show feels like it took all of the heart from another CW drama: Life Unexpected.

In The Dark deals with some heavy subject matters, including the seedy underbelly of Chicago, but the narrative is told from Murphy's point of view as she vies to find out what happened to her friend.

The show is one for an older crowd, and that's what's so surprising about it. This is not your typical CW drama. 

There's some humor thrown in for good measure, and if the first three episodes are a measure of success, then the show excels in most areas. The mystery alone is enough to keep me watching, but the characters all have some stuff going on, and it's hard not to care about all of them. 

The most polarizing one, however, is going to be Murphy. On the surface, she comes across as one of the most unlikeable people around. She uses her disability to her advantage, cutting lines in the mall, and is rude to just about anyone who mutters her name. 

Murphy and Pretzel Search for Clues

That's probably the show's biggest flaw. Viewers are either going to love her or hate her and while it's obvious the powers that be were trying to give her similar traits to Jessica Jones, some things were most definitely lost in translation. 

The people who like Murphy will probably stick with the series, but for the others, we don't really delve into Murphy's personality until after the series premiere. I thought Murphy was a great character from the get-go. 

Mattfield is convincing in the role. She was great on Showtime's Shameless, but never got much to do on that show, and let's just say In The Dark gives the actress a lot to work with. 

There is a story here to be told, but there's no telling what the powers that be have planned for future seasons. If the show continues to borrow elements from Veronica Mars, it could last the full season before going on to a whole new mystery in future seasons. 

Murphy is well-equipped to lead the investigation into the possible death of her best friend, but she faces an uphill battle to prove to people that there's a case worth investigating here. 

Murphy also has her trusty dog, Pretzel along for the ride, but there wasn't nearly enough of the dog in those three episodes. Beyond staring at Murphy during her casual sex encounters, Pretzel is not utilized as well as the promotional material made me think it would be. 

Murphy and Jess Wonder What's Happening - In The Dark

Her friend and roommate, Jess (Brooke Markham), is skeptical of Murphy's actions, but there's a part of her that believes her friend, even after the cops imply that there was no dead body at the scene and that Murphy probably felt a homeless person catching a nap in Tyson's spot. 

Jess and Murphy's relationship is another part of what makes the show so great. Jess is the polar opposite of Murphy: She has a heart of gold and will move mountains to make sure her friend is safe, much to the chagrin of her girlfriend. 

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Jess has some decent storylines all on her own throughout the three episodes I screened, and I'm sure she's going to be an integral part of the investigation. 

Casey Diedrick as Max - In The Dark

Casey Deidrick is another solid addition to the cast as Max, a man who works on a burger van called "Dirty Sliders." Despite little presence in the premiere, he becomes the male lead by the third episodes, and that's a good thing. 

Max has a convincing storyline, and it's clear he's going to become one of the people who help in the off-the-books investigation into what really happened to Tyson. 

The chemistry between Mattfield and Deidrick is off the charts. There's an instant attraction between Max and Murphy, but a relationship between them seems like a difficult thing because they both expect different things from each other. 

I could sit here and compliment the cast all day, but I don't want to give everything away, you guys!

Murphy and Max - In The Dark

Overall, In The Dark uses its cast very well. There's a yarn of deceit going on surrounding Tyson's disappearance, and it's enough to make me want to watch the rest of the season and beyond. 

Related: Veronica Mars Revival Ordered at Hulu

If you can connect with Murphy's complicated personality, then there's a solid TV series right here for you!

It has sharp writing, sharper acting, and a unique set-up. I can understand why The CW is premiering the series so late: It's off-brand and not similar to anything the network has offered up in several years. 

If you're looking for a mystery series with heart, humor, and a strong female at the helm, then In The Dark should be your next TV obsession. 

In The Dark premieres tonight at 9/8c on The CW!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.25 / 5.0
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Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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In The Dark Quotes

It's the only time you don't have to feel blind, because we all do it with our eyes closed anyways.

Tyson

Tinder date: God, you're so hot. Do you know how hot you are? Murphy: No.