Timing is essential to good storytelling.
Intense, well-timed pacing is at the center of TNT’s upcoming drama, “I Am the Night.” The six-part miniseries will premiere at 8 p.m. Jan. 28 (check television provider schedules).
Director Patty Jenkins of “Wonder Woman” and “Monster” is an executive producer, along with screenwriter Sam Sheridan. Chris Pine of “Star Trek” and “Wonder Woman” also is an executive producer and leads the top notch cast (watch for a brilliant, low-key performance from Connie Nielsen).
“I Am the Night” is inspired by the life of Pat/Fauna, 15 (India Eisley). The story takes place in 1965 and dramatizes her search for her biological family. Her journey quickly plunged her into a world of deceit and danger.
The series touches on themes of identity, family, authority and much more. It also links to a sensational courtroom scandal of the late 1940s and the Black Dahlia murder, one of best-known cold cases of the 20th century.
Through those elements, “I Am the Night” draws lines between money, power, church influence, privilege and discrimination. One thread of Fauna’s story shows how church adoptions sometimes served to build walls of silence, where people concealed crimes, secrets and betrayals.
With multiple intersecting themes and threads, it would be tempting to cram in blunt detail or omit some elements. However, creators of “I Am the Night” seem to trust viewers will be patient as they allow the story room to breathe.
The first installment asks several intriguing questions it doesn’t rush to answer. The remaining episodes quicken the pace without moving too fast. Instead, hanging questions and baffling circumstances will likely help viewers empathize with the isolation and loneliness expressed by the series’ two protagonists.
There’s Fauna, who is of mixed race and lives in a black enclave outside Reno, Nev. Jimmy Lee, Fauna’s mother, is played to perfection by Golden Brooks. Although protective of Fauna, Jimmy Lee seems awed and resentful of her daughter’s striking, apparently white features.
Pine stars as Jay Singletary, a troubled U.S. Marine veteran and disgraced journalist. Jay subsists on demeaning photo assignments in Los Angeles’ seedier haunts.
Fauna and Jay cross paths while chasing similar threads of the cold case. She learns she may be the granddaughter of Dr. George Hodel, a suspect in the Black Dahlia murder. Meanwhile, Jay’s career imploded years earlier, when he broke a scandalous story about the rich and influential gynecologist.
With gentle dignity, determination and grace, Eisley keeps up with Pine. His performance is multidimensional, showing everything from the brutal effects of post traumatic stress disorder, addiction and redemption.
For more information and to view a trailer for “I Am the Night,” go to www.TNTDrama.com.