Unsolved The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.Review 2018 TV-Show Series Season Cast Crew
Creators: Kyle Long
Stars: Josh Duhamel, Bokeem Woodbine, Wavyy Jonez
Review: This 10-parter by veteran director and producer Anthony Hemingway fictionally tracks two investigations into the murders of Tupac Shakur (Marcc Rose) in 1996 and Christopher “Biggie” Wallace (Wavyy Jonez) in 1997, with the first headed by LAPD Det. Russell Poole (Jimmi Simpson), and the other by Det. Greg Kading (Josh Duhamel). Both investigations in real life yielded some theories about who killed the two hip-hop icons, but otherwise led nowhere. As the title notes, these remain two of the most famous unsolved crimes in U.S. history.
MY SAY Just about the surest compliment you can pay any TV series in these crazy, crowded TV times of ours is that it is “watchable.” Admittedly, the bar is also set at “minimum.” Anything below “watchable” is pretty much cooked. But “Unsolved” is watchable. Definitely watchable.
For some potential viewers, admittedly, “watchable” may be beside the point, however. The deal breaker may be in the title alone, for “Unsolved” ends up like so many books, movies and documentaries on these murders. Ten episodes in, 10 out, and still nothing to show for it by the final act. There are also many moving parts, almost too many. Shifting time frames, countless personalities and a Rubik’s cube of theories, conjectures and hunches fill the canvas. These were either boilerplate revenge murders, or the most elaborate conspiracies since that second shooter hid on the grassy knoll. Who knows? Clearly none of the characters of “Unsolved” do.
But irresolution has its own undeniable power and Hemingway has wisely played the strongest hand he holds. If no one can figure these murders out, that’s a good yarn by itself. The obvious question is “Why?”.
To get at the answer, “Unsolved” follows two parallel storylines — the Kading task force investigation from the late aughts and Poole’s from the late ’90s. Both case and trail had grown cold by the time Kading gets here, which forces him to start fresh. His team finds leads that Poole had either ignored or overlooked. Poole, meanwhile, obsessively pursues an angle they scarcely pause to consider — that the LAPD was involved in the murders.
At least in the early episodes, “Unsolved” doesn’t much care whether either made procedural mistakes, or which theory lead to a deader end. Instead, its focus is on the personalities. Simpson’s Poole is jumpy and on edge. A dark cloud follows him. His partner, Det. Fred Miller tries to curb his excesses, with predictable results.
Kading, meanwhile, is a smooth operator who can’t quite figure out where any of the trails go, or how to find someone who does. His hand-picked partner, Daryn Dupree tends to follow his lead, which aggravates Det. Lee Tucker (Wendell Pierce), an irascible old-school type who quickly decides Kading is in over his head.