February 13, 2023

CABLE | Natasha Lyonne Solves A 'Poker Face' of the Week

"Easier than being broke, harder than doin' just fine."
Natasha Lyonne Adrien Brody Rian Johnson | Poker Face Peacock
T-Street Productions / MRC Television
Knives Out writer/director Rian Johnson and star Natasha Lyonne offer their contemporary throwback to the bygone entertainment of the episodic murder-of-the-week crime drama procedural. Poker Face very much acts like a successor to classic network mystery series in the mould of Columbo or The Rockford Files mixed with the serialized "stranger in a new town" format of The Incredible Hulk in a stylish package.

Every episode begins with a murder and presents how it's done without mystery (referred to as a "howcatchem") and only the most basic of any context from previously unseen characters week to week. After this first act, Johnson as creator and showrunners Nora and Lilla Zuckerman then rewind back in time to before the murder to give us the backstory of how Lyonne's aloof Charlie becomes involved and entangled in the tragic happenings of the various townspeople around her as she passes through town.

Charlie's special power of deduction is she can instantly tell when someone lying—not totally unlike the premise of the detective comedy series Psych. Although how and why so many strangers she meets (all played wonderfully by a wide array of guest stars) are unceremoniously murdered when she happens to be around while on the run from her crooked casino employer (Benjamin Bratt) across the American Southwest starts to strain credulity as the show piles more and more episodes and subsequent dead bodies weekly.

Johnson's first foray into episodic television is a fun one. Poker Face works so well as a disposable but highly enjoyable crime series because it understands every element of its genre fare and sets up and picks its pieces apart with such cinematic flair. Lyonne delivers an amusing performance as a reluctant gumshoe and human lie detector machine. Each episode leaves you primed for next week's entry.

Poker Face's ten-episode season is available to stream weekly on Citytv+ in Canada through Amazon Prime Video (and on Peacock in the U.S.).

More | YVArcade / Indiewire / Inverse / Polygon

0 reactions:

Post a Comment