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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

CITY OF VICE (2008)

The idea is inspired, but the execution is only mezza-mezza in this 5-part British historical mini-series. Who knew that Henry Fielding (of TOM JONES fame) started a police force in crime plagued 18th century London? Who knew his blind step-brother seconded, took over for three decades & earned a knighthood after Henry’s death the following year? And who knew that London once made DEADWOOD look like a quiet paradise of justice? (The sex, language & violence are graphic, so beware.) The production beautifully navigates around a limited budget via inventive 3-D digital maps of the city and strikingly spare sets, but the scripts show wobbly story construction and, as the series progresses, a general sense of creative burn-out from the participants. Though not from the cast, especially Ian Glen, who’s particularly fine as the blind John Fielding. Still, anyone disappointed when Caleb Carr’s THE ALIENIST got lost to the vagaries of movie development hell could do worse than give this the once over.

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