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Hercules Is Not High On

I am – Hercules!!

AMC’s new 10-episode cop drama “Low Winter Sun” is based upon 2006’s 180-minute British miniseries of the same name, and it repurposes busy bald Briton Mark Strong (“Green Lantern,” “John Carter,” “Zero Dark Thirty”), who plays a murderous detective named Frank Agnew in both the Edinburgh and Detroit versions.

Londoner Strong plays Agnew as an American in the AMC version but used a Scottish accent in the Channel 4 miniseries:

(The title makes more sense for the Scottish version – which aired also on BBC America – because Edinburgh’s proximity to the Arctic Circle keeps the sun from rising very high in the winter months. On Dec. 15 sunset there is 3:43 p.m.)

British “Walking Dead” vet Lennie James and James’ American “Jericho” co-star Sprague Grayden are also “Winter” regulars. David Contabile, who played chemist and meth cook Gale Boetticher on “Breaking Bad,” appears here as an internal affairs investigator.

Chris Mundy, the “Hell On Wheels” writer who created CBS’ short-lived “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior,” is the American “Winter” showrunner.

I’ve not seen the Scottish version but I can’t say I found the first American episodes’ characters or situations compelling enough to warrant a second look. It’s a poor replacement for AMC’s far more nuanced cop drama “The Killing.”

There’s general agreement that Strong, his supporting cast and the Detroit locations are not the problem:

HuffPost TV says:

... ends up being a labored, uninspired compilation of cop-show clichés …

Hitfix says:

... There's lots of snarling, lots of talk about what men are willing to do to protect or hurt one another, and yet in the early going it feels empty, like a joke being retold by someone who can't remember exactly how the guy he heard it from delivered it. …

Time says:

... unremarkable in itself: a paint-by-the-numbers serious-cable series where all the numbers indicate a shade of black. …

The New York Times says:

... It’s a deadly serious drama, but some of the early scenes are so overwrought that they are almost laughable. … It’s inevitable for viewers to yearn for the kind of odyssey that series like “The Wire” and “Breaking Bad” provided. “Low Winter Sun” isn’t that, but it’s an entertaining way station.

The Los Angeles Times says:

... comes on strong and stays there, in a state of almost constantly heightened tension supported by the restless camera work, which spends a lot of time in close like a fighter in a clinch, and a much-present moody soundtrack. …

The San Francisco Chronicle says:

... So what does "Low Winter Sun," produced and written by Chris Mundy ("Criminal Minds"), bring to the gritty party? Decent performances; verisimilitude in setting, costumes and photography; potentially interesting characters; and weak scripts filled with over-freighted dialogue and prescient observations. …

The Boston Globe says:

... comes off as a straining, overly serious wannabe. …

TV Guide says:

... aspires to the breadth if not the depth of The Wire. But it's so self-conscious in its existential misery, lacking the leavening humor and humanity of a modern classic like Breaking Bad, that it often feels more punishing than provocative. …

USA Today says:

... over-stylized tedium … another entrant in what appears to be some cable death match to see which service can offer the dreariest hour. …

The Hollywood Reporter says:

... makes you want to watch for the potential, but a little more sun (or dark humor) to offset the This Is Serious tone would go a long way in encouraging that potential to be realized.

Variety says:

... a too-familiar tale of police corruption, a relentlessly grim tone and an abundance of terse, jargon-riddled dialogue. Riding piggyback on “Breaking Bad’s” last stand, the series merits a look, certainly, but the first two episodes mostly live down to the title — throwing off limited heat, and even less light. …

10 p.m. Sunday. AMC.

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