"Snowfall": A drug drama adds depth and female ferocity

TV shows often start well and then sag in quality; it's kind of a tradition. Lately, however, some have gone in the opposite direction. One example is "The Bold Type" (9:01 p.m. Tuesdays on Freeform), one of the year's happiest surprises; another is FX's "Snowfall," closing its first season with strong episodes on Aug. 30 and Sept. 6; here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

When “Snowfall”
began, the scenes seemed familiar:

Tough young men
battered each other for control of drugs in Los Angeles. They keep
doing that in movies, on TV and (one assumes) in real life.

But as the series
nears its powerhouse season finale, there's extra depth, Now women
are involved.

“It's very rare
that you get to see women portrayed as villains,” said Emily Rios,
who plays Lucia. “So that's the exciting part .... She gets to be
her own antagonist.”

Also emergng
fiercely is Cissy Saint. Her view is more traditional – the mother
trying to save her son.

“You're seeing
your family fall apart,” said Michael Hyatt, who plays her. “You
can't help but fall apart a bit yourself.”

This is 1983 Los
Angeles and she thinks her son Franklin is a pot-dealer; instead,
he's bringing the crack that will shatter their neighborhood.

Stories of the Los
Angeles drug war have been told often. John Singleton, the “Snowfall”
producer, fueled the trend with his first movie, “Boyz n the Hood,”
in 1991.

But “Snowfall”
steps back to the start, before crack took over. Ironically,
Singleton said, “it's a nostalgia show .... These were the best of
times and the worst of times.”

Franklin is a
college-bound kid who sees the potential to make a fortune. On Aug.
30, his mother rages. “You've got to pray that you have created a
strong enough, healthy foundation that when your child trips, he can
pick himself up,” Hyatt said.

A week later -- in
the finale, directed by Singleton -- Lucia has her turning point.

“I was was very
surprised as the scripts came,” Rios said, “to see where she was
going ... She gets to be her own hero and her own savior (and) her
own worst enemy.”

-- “Snowfall,”
10 p.m. Wednesdays, FX.

-- Aug. 30: Crises
for Franklin, for Lucia and for Teddy, a CIA agent doing the
Contra/cocaine deal.

-- Sept. 6: Season
finale, including a drastic move by Lucia.