Born with good intentions, fine actors and poor pacing, “In the Dark” has wandered a bit.
It seemed to be drifting … but not any more. The season’s final two episodes make it all worthwhile; they’re 9 p.m. Thursdays, June 20 and 27, on CW.
Yes, that’s the network that’s stuffed with superheroes … which “Dark” is not. It’s sort of the opposite, which is how it got started.
There was a management retreat, CW chief Mark Pedowitz recalled earlier this year, and the speaker was Lori Bernson. “Lori was captivating and she was incredibly funny and sarcastic.”
She’s also blind and she disputed all those stories about blind folks having super hearing or super hearts. As she puts it: “A person without vision can have as many quirks as a person who has sight.”
So CW created a show, which arrived at mid-season and will be back some time next year.
Murphy had a degenerative disease in her teens (as did Bernson). Now she’s a young woman, blind and bitter; she works at the guide-dog place started by her parents (and now owned by Felix), but rarely does anything helpful. She had exactly two friends – Jess, her roommate, and Tyson, a black teen she had long chats with.
Then things crashed. She found Tyson’s body. Her obsession with finding the killer strained things with Jess, who finally moved out. Even Dean – the cop who was assigned to the case, partly because he has a blind daughter – has seemed exhausted by Murphy.
Often, Murphy dulls her senses with alcohol or sex. But now she’s split from her boyfriend; as the June 20 episode begins, she’s thoroughly alone.
This is not cheery turf. After Murphy relates one memory, Chelsea calls it’s “like the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard.” And Chelsea’s a bartender, who knows depressed souls.
This show works because of the subtle skill of the actors. Perry Mattfeld is perfect as Murphy – not just with the extra requirements of playing a blind person, but the quiet details of a grim personality.
Not long ago, Mattfeld was a University of Southern California “Song Girl,” bouncing cheerily at basketball games. Now she plays someone she describes as “very deep and very layered …. I beat (myself) pretty bad.”
It works. We start to like someone who doesn’t seem to like herself. Others – especially Brooke Markham (shown here, left, with Mattfeld) as Jess and Rich Sommer as Dean – also bring subtlety to their roles.
“In the Dark” shouldn’t have tried to stretch this first story out for 13 weeks. Now, however, these final two episodes provide a powerful pay-off.