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AMC’s ‘Low Winter Sun’ is impressively dark, but uneven

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Mark Strong and David Costabile provide plenty of intensity to AMC’s Low Winter Sun.

Two and a half stars

Low Winter Sun Sundays, 10 p.m., AMC.

With a premiere directly following the debut of Breaking Bad’s final episodes, Low Winter Sun is being set up as AMC’s next great drama. It certainly has Bad’s dark, serious tone down, and it’s led by not one but two flawed, masculine antiheroes. British actors Mark Strong and Lennie James play Detroit homicide detectives Frank Agnew and Joe Geddes, respectively, who open the series by murdering one of their fellow officers and then covering it up.

Low Winter Sun is based on a British miniseries that aired in two parts in 2006 (and also starred Strong), and the first two episodes of the 10-episode season play more like the opening act of a movie than the beginning of an ongoing series. Frank and Joe’s crime is the center of the show, and it’s hard to imagine where things will go once the investigation has been resolved. The supporting cast includes two alumni of The Wire, and frequent The Wire director Ernest Dickerson is behind the camera for the first two episodes, but Low Winter Sun fails to do for Detroit what The Wire did for Baltimore. The city doesn’t feel like a vibrant part of the show, and instead of a serious examination of societal problems, Low Winter Sun is really just a pulpy crime story.

At times it’s an impressively dark and intense pulpy crime story, but a lot of that comes across as posturing. Chris Mundy, who developed the show for American TV, is a veteran of Criminal Minds and Cold Case, and Low Winter Sun too often proceeds with the mundane plotting of a crime procedural, taking extra time to wallow in the most lurid elements. It’s doubtful the show will be AMC’s next great drama, although given time, it might evolve into the network’s next decent one.

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