When I saw the description for In The Dark, about a blind witness helping solve a murder, I was expecting one of two things. First, something saccharine sweet like Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye where a person with a disability solves crimes. Or second, something like an accomplished but sheltered blind person who hears something or smells something, like the movie Copycat with Sigourney Weaver as an agoraphobe. And based on the description, it didn’t sound like much of a premise.
I was not expecting a blind woman who is a complete mess. Borderline alcoholic. Working for her parents company, barely doing anything to earn her keep, living with a motherly roommate. And bopping between meaningless sex with random guys and sitting on a cement block in an alley talking to a drug dealer who saved her life when she was mugged one time.
And while part of it is challenging to watch — there are a lot of cringeworthy scenes — it is obviously way more realistic than, say, Daredevil. Matt Murdoch she is not. She does manage to find her friend’s body in the alley, but by the time she gets the cops to come, the body is gone. And since she is the only one who “saw” it, so to speak, nobody is too interested. Plus there are texts saying he’s just off with some girl. Except she knows she found his body, and she knows that the texts aren’t from him. She tries to get the police involved, but with little evidence, they’re not interested. She talks to his drug-dealing brother, also not interested. Until she proves he doesn’t have his phone with him, so whoever is texting, it ain’t him. Over the course of the first episode, she starts to sober up and look into the death.
Perry Mattfeld plays Murphy, the messed-up blind person, and while I haven’t seen her in anything before, she is pretty great to watch. She has some touching scenes offering advice to a father of a young girl who is blind, and it shows a sweet side to her with the young girl herself. None of it is done saccharine sweet, just “normal” conversation, and it sings onscreen.
The supporting cast doesn’t have much to recommend them. Brooke Markham plays Jess, the roommate, and does okay. Never seen her before, and may never see her again, but she’s okay. Kathleen York plays her mother, Joy, and she has some of the worst scenes in the episode — partly her character, partly her bad acting. I’ve seen her in lots of character-of-the-week roles, and I almost never like her. Which is weird, because when I first saw her, she was playing Congresswoman Wyatt on the West Wing, and she was kind of decent. I think I just hate her when she tries to play emotional drama scenes. Anyway, I digress. Derek Webster plays her father (hey, Murphy was adopted, don’t worry about ethnicities here), and he was decent although without much to do. I liked him in a small part way back on Revolution, so was nice to see him again. Keston John plays the drug-dealing cousin, and does alright being somewhat mysterious and menacing, which is amusing since he doesn’t know quite how to deal with the blind girl who can’t be physically intimidated with a look. Morgan Krantz plays a douchey worker at the company, and I’m hoping he turns out to be the bad guy somehow.
One small other bright spot is Rich Sommer as the cop. I loved him as Harlan on Elementary, and his long list of short duration credits on shows is almost always a decent appearance. However, one downside is that they gave him a blind daughter, so he ends up chewing up some “hey now is the time to learn about blind people’s lives” dialogue. A bit more edge would be great, but I’m not hopeful.
And as much as I enjoyed it, mostly because they didn’t go with the normal super sweet or champion blind person clichés, it is also not great enough to change my prediction. Unless it gets really gritty, I’m going to stick with CANCELLATION.