seven seconds

Is It Too Long, Like Every Netflix Show?

Yes.

While Seven Seconds doesn’t make the mistake of Marvel shows and run for a torturous 13 episodes, it does overstay its welcome at 10. This becomes apparent in the last four episodes in particular. The first chunk of the series moves at a quick, breakneck pace, burning through characters and storylines with urgency and excitement, making the series inherently bingeable. Then, the show all but grinds to a halt, and staggers across its finish-line. It’s as if the writers were on a roll, then realized they had to stretch the story across 10 episodes and started to deliberately pace themselves. The show suffers as a result. Had Seven Seconds been whittled down to 8 episodes instead of 10, it would be a much better series.

seven seconds cops

What Doesn’t Work

The aforementioned episode count of the show really does bog it down. Without getting into too many spoilers, Seven Seconds all but wraps-up its storyline by episode 7. The minute I realized this, and then realized there were still three more episodes to go, my heart sank. I all-but-knew this was a sign that show was going to torch the goodwill it had built up to drag the story out even longer. Sure enough, I was correct. To be clear: the decisions the show makes in its final three episodes make sense, but they don’t quite work with everything that’s come before.

Another problem Seven Seconds has involves shortcuts. While it’s understandable that a TV series wouldn’t want to delve into the frequently-boring minuta of police work, more often than not, the show will have characters jumping to dead-on conclusions. The result seems often forced and unbelievable. On that same note, Seven Seconds has a real problem involving characters who neglect to mention things to each other.

There’s precedence for this. After all, if characters in Jane Austen novels would just confess their feelings and motivations to each other, the books would be only one page long. Still, there’s a way to make this work, and Seven Seconds doesn’t quite nail it down. As a result, there’s a nagging sense that if certain characters would just open their mouths and tell other characters things, Seven Seconds would be a lot cleaner, and a lot more engaging.

seven seconds netflix

What Works

As mentioned above, the show really does move quite well. It’s addictive television, and it’s addictive in a way that doesn’t feel manipulative. Some shows will end nearly every episode with a cliffhanger to suck you back in; Seven Seconds avoids this, but still manages to hook the viewer to the point where you feel you must keep watching to see where the show is going to go.

The late, great Jonathan Demme directed one of the episodes, and, needless to say, his episode is the best. It’s a haunting, quiet episode filled with reflective moments. It comes very early in the series, and one almost wishes the show had stuck with this method of storytelling a little longer before jumping into its mystery. Still, this is one of the very last things Demme directed, and it’s a treat to watch his work.

Beyond that, the real draw of Seven Seconds is the cast, particularly Clare-Hope Ashitey and Regina King, playing two very different women searching for the same thing. Both actresses take the show into interesting directions, and both are excellent at handling their overall arcs and emotional moments. Seven Seconds ultimately isn’t your normal type of murder mystery show. It’s more about the fallout; the way people deal with picking up the pieces following the traumatic event.

***

Seven Seconds arrives on Netflix February 23, 2018.

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