City on Fire: The Apple TV+ series review
The policy of Apple TV+ to bring transpositions of successful novels to the small screen continues with Burning city, inspired by Garth Risk Hallberg’s debut novel of the same name published in 2015. The story revolves around a crime: a young woman is found dying in Central Park, hit by a bullet. Who shot her? The police investigation soon involves the most disparate characters, some belonging to the underground music scene of the Big Apple but also extremely high exponents of the high society of the metropolis.
Burning City, the setting of the series
The creators of Burning city Josh Schwartz And Stephanie Savage have chosen a new temporal setting with respect to the original literary text, passing from the 70s to 2003. This decidedly simplified the problems of staging that a period reconstruction would have entailed, revealing at the same time a rather effective move to create the right atmosphere of the series. In fact, the New York in which the events revolving around the crime unfold is a hostile city, pervaded by a sense of impending threat. The trauma of September 11, 2001 is still tangible in the streets that this series shows, nocturnal and ferocious arteries of a huge infernal circle in which the lost souls of the show roam almost aimlessly.
This definitely presents itself as the best value of Burning city, production that otherwise has few arrows in the bow in order to entertain the audience. The double universe in which the main characters are relegated never fully merges into a homogeneous narrative, and this makes Burning city a fluctuating serieswhich does not have a real thematic center, or rather excessively weakens the main detection by recounting the events and relationships between rather stereotyped figures.
The drama doesn’t involve
The drama that the main characters experience is in many moments flat, not emotionally engaging. This doesn’t help interpreters like Jemima Kirke, Ashley Zukerman or John Cameron Mitchell to express the best of one’s potential. Which in the end turns out to be a rather obvious mistake since it is the two policemen in charge of the investigation that are the most interesting thing about Burning city: the development of detective Parsa’s psychologies (Omid Abtahi) and Detective McFadden (Kathleen Munroe) is spelled accurately.
When they let in their personal problems and a not always fulfilling private life within the work they are doing for discovering the culprit, they become important dramatic figures, decidedly better told and less superficial than those who should in theory drive history and public attention. The alchemy between Abtahi and Munroe then allows them to develop two very different personalities who interact effectively precisely because of these differences. In this way, the pair of investigators becomes another valid reason to see Burning city.
Burning city not fully convincing
Probably the starting material was not very easy to transpose into a serial product, however the fact remains that Burning city it remains too frayed and uneven to fully convince. At the same time, however, this does not mean that it does not have some points of interest: as already written, the temporal and spatial setting of a post-attack New York on the Twin Towers works properly, as does the plot linked to the investigations into the crime that start the story. The rest, however, is a poorly blended mix of already seen stories and characters, already outlined with greater force or originality elsewhere. Too bad, the conditions for a compelling show could have been there…