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Herc’s Seen Tonight’s First Two Episodes Of Frank Darabont’s New TNT Series MOB CITY!!

Published at: Dec. 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m. CST

I am – Hercules!!

The TNT project writer-director Frank Darabont leapt into following his abrupt and mysterious firing from AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” the great-looking “Mob City” is set in postwar Los Angeles and features 1947 versions of some of the Jewish mobsters – notably Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel – featured in the Warren Beatty vehicle “Bugsy” and in HBO’s 1920s-set “Boardwalk Empire.”

I confess that six seasons of “The Sopranos” and four seasons of “Boardwalk” – masterminded by longtime “Sopranos” writer Terence Winter – may have spoiled me a bit for “Mob City,” which is slower and talkier and teeming with less-memorable characters.

This is not to say the first two episodes are devoid of solid moments; I suspect I’ll stick around for all six hours of the series’ first season just to see what might emerge from the brain of Darabont -- no stranger to big-screen criminal element, having adapted and directed the Stephen King prison dramas “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile.”

I should add for the record that “Mob City” is nowhere near as compelling as “Shawshank” and “Green Mile,” and there’s no way audiences will embrace “Mob City” as they do the zeitgeist-tapping “Walking Dead.” On the other hand, it’s hard to remember another TNT series as compelling.

The series stars “Walking Dead” victims Jon Bernthal and Jeffrey DeMunn, as well as Neal McDonough (“Justified”), Milo Ventimiglia (“Heroes”) and Alexa Davalos (“Angel”), and fans of Simon Pegg might be curious to see him take on the pivotal but fleeting straight role of a D-list American comedian in a bind.

Actor/filmmaker Ed Burns (“The Brothers McMullen,” “Sidewalks of New York”) creates a much more Beatty-esque Bugsy than the one played by Michael Zegen in “Boardwalk.”

The New York Times says:

... prospects seem good that this six-episode series will be a satisfying trip back in time. …

The San Francisco Chronicle says:

... It probably costs a ton of money to be as exact as "Mob City" is, but looks wouldn't be worth a dime without a great script and great performances, and "Mob City" has both. It's a "Mob" hit of the best kind.…

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says:

... After two hours, "Mob City" gets its hooks into viewers and should leave many begging for more. But it takes some time to get there. The first hour establishes the world and the characters only to leave viewers baffled by character motivations that are slowly unearthed in the second hour. …

The Boston Globe says:

... a pristinely etched mash note to film noir. …

USA Today says:

... there's no doubt Mob City looks good. But in this case, looks aren't enough, particularly when too many of the details seem more studied than lived in. Indeed, the show spends so much time flashing its pedigree that you may eventually get the feeling you're not watching a series so much as a redemption project — a TNT effort to expand its footprint beyond popular but lighter series such as The Closer into the rarefied AMC prestige-drama air of Breaking Bad. If this is the show that takes it there, it will be the biggest surprise. And the one new thing Mob City has to offer. …

Variety says:

... Great-looking but dramatically flaccid, “Mob City” mines the same territory as “L.A. Confidential” and James Ellroy’s noir thrillers, with hollow results. …

9 p.m. Wednesday. TNT.

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