'Low Winter Sun' Reviews: Praise For 'A Gritty Cop Show,' City's 'Apt Backdrop'

Crime figures are played by (from left) James Harvey Ward, Sprague Gradon and James Ransone. [AMC photos by Alicia Gbur]

The homicide series starring Detroit, which debuts Sunday night on AMC, earns thumb-ups (more or less) from TV writers who saw the first two episodes.

"This is definitely a series with potential," says reviewer Tim Goodman at The Hollywood Reporter trade newspaper, who admires the "beautiful direction and the gloriously riveting disintegration of Detroit." In addition to themes of deception and corruption, he adds, "we get to see some hints of Greek and African-American mob life (and thus, one would assume, racial issues) boiling underneath."

AP's writer is intrigued by "a gritty cop show whose Motor City setting gives this unforgiving saga even greater urgency."

And here at home, Nathan Skid of Crain's admires the "high-end production" and is "hooked" after watching preview DVDs.

Excerpts below are among the early comments. Deadline Detroit will post more review summaries and viewer reactions from social media after Sunday's 10 p.m. premiere on AMC.

Associated Press: "‘Low Winter Sun"’ is not a series for the faint of heart. . . . It is not a series that preaches right and wrong. . . . Detroit at this moment proves an all-too-apt backdrop. . . . Along the way, the audience is welcome to grieve for the city where [Det. Frank] Agnew is trying to find justice. -- Frazier Moore

Acclaimed British actor Mark Strong plays Detective Frank Agnew, the show's main character.

Variety: The series merits a look. . . . "Low Winter Sun" has created a reasonably compelling universe, without as yet establishing the gravitational pull necessary to ensure viewers stay in its orbit.  -- Brian Lowry

The Hollywood Reporter: This is definitely a series with potential. . . . The cast is strong, the writing has flashes of muscle mixed with nuance, and in the first two episodes you get the sense that a broader, complex and creative world is being developed.  . . .
Chief among the reasons to be patient with "Low Winter Sun" is its best character -- the crumbling, haunting beauty of Detroit, which is a majestic visual criterion equal to the use of New Orleans in HBO's "Treme." The corruption, rot and pride that Detroit exudes is metaphorically significant to the characters in "Low Winter Sun." -- Tim Goodman

Crain's Detroit Business: Detroit needs its version of "The Wire." In the filmed-in-Detroit "Low Winter Sun," it may have gotten one. . . . [It] feels like a major, high-end production, something lacking in the short-lived "Detroit 1-8-7." And while "Detroit 1-8-7" felt like an ode to the city, "Low Winter Sun" seems of the city. . . . By the end of the second episode, I was hooked.  – Nathan Skid

New York Times: With cops and robbers making their way through a city that has been stripped of its civilizing aspects, "Low Winter Sun" might scan as the lost sixth season of the “The Wire.” But given the survivalist impulses at work and the bombed-out backdrop, the story has as much in common with “The Walking Dead” as a cop show. . . . With a retro shooting style that pivots from a hermetic two-shot to a vast urban landscape where the humans are tiny in relief, "Low Winter Sun" captures the loneliness the city can inspire. It’s hard not to see this place as an archaeologist might, gazing at the once-great civilization that flourished here. Now it’s gone. – David Carr in feature article

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