By now, we pretty much all know the name Adnan Syed. Thanks to the ridiculously popular podcast Serial, his case is one of the most famous “did-he-or-didn’t-he” cases to ever be debated in such a public forum. In fact, ever since Serial first came to be, we find that there are tons of TV shows (and other podcasts) trying to recreate that lightening in a bottle, so to speak.
But if you’re really looking for a crime drama to warm you up on Sunday nights now that Game of Thrones has wrapped its latest season, we’ve got a doozy for you. Something that’s got a few similarities to Serial in terms of the case it talks about, but has all of those dramatic, take-your-breath-away moments thanks to the fact that it’s all fictional.
We’re talking about our newest addiction The Night Of, of course.
The show revolves around a young guy named Naz (Riz Ahmed), who steals his dad’s taxi, goes out for a night on the town, meets a pretty young woman who invites him to share a bunch of drugs, then wakes up hours later. She’s dead, it looks as though he’s done it and it doesn’t take long before he’s arrested for the crime. But did he do it? We don’t know, and that’s what the miniseries takes lots of time to explore. For eight episodes, to be exact.
Obviously the fact that both Naz and Syed are Muslim and potentially innocent is a common bond here, as is the fact that people seem to love miniseries about crime these days. But as it turns out, The Night Of has actually been in development for about seven years. In fact, it was a pet project of James Gandolfini’s (of The Sopranos fame) before he passed away.
So why did it take so long to come to television? Well, Gandolfini’s death was one factor, since he was supposed to play the lawyer who takes a chance on this kid. Then Robert DeNiro was attached for a while in that part, but he ended up dropping out too. Eventually the producers settled on John Turturro for the part, and the show has been wracking up critical acclaim ever since.
“You see the slow wheels of justice and what that does to someone. And if you’re involved as a detective or as a lawyer, you are affected,” Turturro says. “It’s a fascinating subject.”
We’re only about halfway through (the show debuted on July 10), but we’d have to agree. At this point, we’re just hoping the show is somehow renewed for a second season — even though we know the current case is going to end, it’s such a cool format that we can’t help but want more.
“We’re thinking about [a second season],” producer Steven Zaillian says. “And if we come up with something that we all feel is worthy of doing, we’ll do it. This was designed as a standalone piece. That being said, there are ways of doing another season on another subject. So we’re talking about it.”
Here’s hoping they keep talking.
Watch The Night Of every Sunday at 9 p.m. [ET] only on HBO Canada.