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Interrogation Review 2020 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew Online
Creators: John Mankiewicz, Anders Weidemann
Stars: Peter Sarsgaard, Kyle Gallner, Kodi Smit-McPhee
Opening Shot: “Based on interrogation transcripts from a real homicide investigation. The investigation took place over 20 years. To date, it remains unsolved.” March 10, 1983, Sherman Oaks California, South Van Nuys Police Station. A long-haired teen is in a locked interrogation room, pounding on the door and screaming, “I need to see her!”
The Gist: Detective David Russell (Peter Sarsgaard) goes into the room and tells the teen, Eric Fisher (Kyle Gallner) to recount his day from the beginning. In his hyper manner, he recalls showering in his flophouse of an apartment, then something happening with his car. His grasp of details of what just happened hours earlier is tentative. Then he says he went to his parents’ house, where he just got kicked out with the locks changed, to get some tools. He looks in and sees his mother Mary (Joanna Going) on the floor in a pool of blood. She has two knives in her back, her head’s been bashed in, and there’s a cord around her neck, but she’s still alive. Eric removes the glass louvers from a back door window, and runs to her. Eric tells the detective that he pulled the knives out in a panicked manner and called 911.
Det. Russell thinks the story is “bullshit” and he tells Eric so. We flash back to when he arrived at the scene; Eric had to be restrained when he was screaming at the paramedics that they weren’t doing enough to save his mother; his father Henry (David Strathairn) leaves Eric in the patrol car to answer the cops’ questions. It doesn’t look like any of the evidence supports Eric’s story. But Russell’s boss (Frank Whaley) tells Russell that, because Eric is only 17, he has to somehow convince the kid that doing a polygraph is Eric’s own idea, but there isn’t enough evidence to hold him otherwise.
Eric is freaking out, but he thinks he’s telling the truth. Henry isn’t sure; he knows his son is an addict and he has no idea how high his son is at that moment. But he wants to believe his son. He goes to his son’s apartment — highly singed from an electrical fire; the landlord says Eric “liked the smell” — and sees all the freshly-used needles lying around the place’s general squalor and wonders. But he knows that one of Eric’s “buddies,” Chris Keller (Kodi Smit-McPhee), is fully capable of killing his wife the way he did.
As Russell books Eric and puts him in a holding cell, he gets what he was looking for: Eric demanding a polygraph, which he promptly fails.
Our Take: Interrogation, created by John Mankiewicz and Anders Weidemann, has a unique format. It’s really based on a 20-year case that hasn’t been solved yet, fictionalized to suit this format. All the episodes are dropped at once, which hasn’t been the CBSAA model to date, but it’s done for a reason: The eight episodes between the first episode and the season finale can be watched in any order, giving the viewer his or own path when following the investigation.
That’s why they needed to find a case that has spanned decades; the episodes hopscotch from the ’80s to the ’00s and back again, with new investigators (Vincent D’Onofrio appears as Sgt. Ian Lynch in a few episodes), new evidence, and new backstories revealed. So, the idea is to watch the premiere, then pick and choose any order of the next eight episodes, then watch the season finale.
But is it worth the effort? After the first episode, we’re not sure. There are fine performances in the first episode, with Sarsgaard and Strathairn leading the way, but Gallner’s manic portrayal of the drugged-up Eric Fisher feels like it’s what he thinks an addict should act like; it’s a performance that makes the entire episodes irritating to watch. Perhaps he calms down as Eric spends the next two decades in prison. But we’re not sure we want to find out.
We’re thinking that, depending on who the focus of each episode is — they’re named after particular characters — will determine how good or bad the episode will be. But we’re wondering: Is this more interactive than we think it is? Are we supposed to be writing things down? Do we need to set up a cork board with pictures linked together by colored string to keep track? We can barely keep track of our own lives, much less Interrogation. The only way this is worthwhile is if all the episodes are worth watching. Based on the first episode, though, we’re not holding out hope.
Parting Shot: Henry goes into Eric’s cell, and tells his highly-sedated son that he thinks Chris Keller murdered his mother. He’s so out of it, all Eric can muster is “Yeah.”
Sleeper Star: We’re not sure how many episodes Whaley will be in, but we always like seeing him; here, he plays a detective that’s snarky and weaselly, but also pretty much right.
Most Pilot-y Line: We’re not sure of some of the side conversations, like Russell telling Whaley’s character that he knows he has a cigarette in his jacket pocket, or a scene where Russell goes home and tells his half-asleep wife, “I gotta go back into work early.” What did she ask? “Did you solve it?” Is she a third-grader?
Our Call: SKIP IT. We have no confidence that this mix-and-match episode format is anything more than a gimmick and will just lead to confused viewers. If the story was better, we might give it a shot. But it’s not a story we’d want to watch in a more linear fashion, much less the way CBSAA is presenting them.