This article contains information that could be considered too revealing according to our spoiler policy. Proceed with caution. You can't unsee it!Reason The premiere doesn't air until a few hours after publication time; we got screeners.
Should You Hunt Down The Last Panthers?
Or is the Euro-crime drama too dark and gritty?
What is this thing?
The wheels begin to come off a previously clockwork jewel heist -- perhaps the work of the legendary "Pink," as in Panthers; perhaps an homage -- in Marseille when one of the thieves accidentally shoots and kills a child during the getaway. With the buyers scared off by the ensuing headlines and his former padron in Belgrade unwilling to help without serious conditions, Milan might have screwed the pooch...and that's just among the criminal community. A French detective with youthful indiscretions of his own to atone for and a British insurance agent battling PTSD from her UN-security stint in the Balkans also want to find Milan, and the diamonds, and some peace.
When is it on?
Wednesdays at 10 PM on Sundance.
Because conflicted anti-heroes stalking through trash-strewn alleys and spitting into the wind of international gun-running, drug-dealing, and corruption never goes out of style.
What's its pedigree?
The Last Panthers is based on the work of a French journalist, Jérôme Pierrat, who's apparently been on the French OC beat for years. Johan Renck, a well-regarded video and commercial director who's also done some American TV (The Walking Dead), helms all six episodes.
Samantha Morton is the insurance investigator; John Hurt is her colleague, Tom; and Tahar "the European Hatosy" Rahim (A Prophet) is the French cop, Khalil.
The show's already aired overseas and gotten solid reviews.
It is visually grim; every outside shot is under a cloudy sky, which, I know it's Europe but ease up. The indoor palette isn't any cheerier, and between the fluorescents, the peeling paint on every doorjamb, and the inability of any character onscreen to have laundered his/her coat, they might just as easily have named the show Greyish-Green Winter Sun.
It's also heavy on the subtitles thanks to the milieu, so if you're looking for a crime drama you can half-watch while crafting, this isn't your cheval.
It's heavy on the subtitles because people from Belgrade IN Belgrade don't speak to each other in English, and thank God. Nothing annoys me more than European people having conversations in English when there are no English-speakers in the scene. And it's cast with Europeans, of course, so the people look like real people. Consider the same character Samantha Morton is playing as we saw her on White Collar -- granted, a very different show tonally, and I won't hear a word against Hilarie Burton as Sara, but American shows are not great about casting actors, particularly women actors, with any facial asymmetry or who couldn't pass for 30. European TV cops and gangsters look like cops and gangsters.
European TV is also better able to resist pilot-y spoonfeeding; we do get flashbacks in the first episode about why Naomi is reluctant to return to Belgrade, and a couple of catch-up conversations between other characters about how their paths diverged and what they mean to each other today, but it feels natural and doesn't underline the parallels too heavily.
And it's process-y: the initial heist, Naomi's camera-setting, and Khalil's approach to cracking the case all take an entertaining puzzle-solving approach to the material that grounds the bigger-picture, international-underworld stuff nicely.
It's just good -- not great, yet; not reinventing the wheel; but knowledgeably built and genuine. Samantha Morton is historically off-putting to me, but she's usefully so here, and while I don't think The Last Panthers is necessarily Le Wire, there's a similar sense of looking forward to seeing how the writing gets us to the convergence points. Give it a look. (If for no other reason than to tell me I'm not a crackpot re: the Hatosy thing.)