True Detective Season 2 finishes tonight, but Sky Atlantic has lined up a doozy of a show to fill its Monday night slot: Show Me a Hero, a new mini-series starring Oscar Isaac and written by the creator of The Wire.
Here are seven things we know about the programme:
1. It’s from David Simon
Everyone knows the name David Simon by now, thanks to his epic creation that was The Wire. He’s been struggling to team up HBO for a while, he explained in a fantastic, in-depth interview with Grantland.
“I said to HBO, ‘Look, do you want me just to do a miniseries? Less of a commitment?’ They were like, ‘No, no, keep trying to do a series.’ I’m trying. But at a certain point, if what I’m interested in they’re not interested in and vice versa, we gotta stop hitting our heads against the wall.”
And so, he’s reunited with them for this mini-series of six episodes. It may be shorter than The Wire, but his name on the script means you can expect high quality.
2. It’s set in the 1980s>/h3>
The show is set in the 1980s (starting in February 1987, to be exact) – and how. Oscar Isaac’s power suit and power hair scream convincing period detail, with one kid in the background of the first episode even riding a plastic tricycle that recalls the one from The Shining.
3. It’s based on a true story
The show is based on the 1999 book of the same name by Lisa Belkin and follows a legal battle over public housing in Yonkers. Unsurprisingly, given Simon’s journalist background, the show has done its own extensive research too, with former Sun colleague and Wire writer Bill Zorzi investigating the whole kerfuffle. Isaac plays Nicholas Wasicsko, who became the USA’s youngest mayor at the tender age of 28 and died six years later.
4. It’s not idealistic
Wasicsko isn’t the kind of knight in shining armour you might expect. In Episode 1, he’s late to official proceedings and more concerned with chatting up a girl with offers of lenient parking permits than with city business. It was only after District Judge Leonard Sand ruled that the city had intentionally fostered segregation by basing the majority of its public housing in a single area that the mayor did the right thing. Just to emphasise the lack of idealism on display, the show takes its title from an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote: “Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.”
5. It’s got niche appeal
Even with The Wire under his belt, David Simon is convinced that nobody’s going to tune in to see a show about housing issues. It’s ok, though. He’s used to it.
“Nobody watched The Wire when it was on. Nobody watched The Corner,” he told Grantland. “I didn’t believe for a minute [Generation Kill] would pull a number. You make a piece about the American misadventure in Iraq when people still have a taste of Fallujah in their mouths? Then we launched Tremé, a show about culture and musicians – good luck. And, uh, I don’t believe anyone’s going to watch this. You are not going to get zombie-like numbers for a story about 200 units of low-income housing being built on the east side of the Saw Mill Expressway and the racial strife that ensues.”
“I’ve gone 16 years,” he added. “I’ve gone as long as you can go in TV without having an audience.”
Then again, given how popular The Wire has become since its debut – and how consistently good Simon’s work as been – the more he says no one will watch, the more we want to tune in.
6. It’s on within 24 hours of its US broadcast
While we’ve often had to wait for US shows to turn up on UK shores – Agent Carter, don’t forget, has only just arrived – there’s no wait for Show Me a Hero. Like True Detective, it will air in the UK on Sky Atlantic within 24 hours of its original broadcast. The show begins on HBO on Sunday 16th August, so we’ll be able to watch it a few hours later on Monday 17th August. For non-Sky customers, Show Me a Hero will be available to watch online both live and on-demand through NOW TV, which costs £6.99 a month with no minimum contract. NOW TV is also offering a £1 monthly trial for new customers, if they sign up before 27th September.
7. It stars Oscar Isaac
Did we mention Oscar Isaac? His hair is even more impressive here than it was in A Most Violent Year.
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