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What Does the Future Hold For Mob City and Frank Darabont?

On the 4th of December 2013, TNT showcased Frank Darabont’s long-awaited return to television after his sacking from AMC’s The Walking Dead in 2009. Darabont was back in the form of noir drama Mob City; based on the true story which gave an account of the conflict that lasted decades between the Los Angeles Police Department (under leadership of Police Chief William Parker), and ruthless criminal elements led by Bugsy Siegel, who was in charge of the Los Angeles mafia operations. Mob City aired as a three week “event” series over the festive period. Now the show is over it has forced many fans to ponder:

Will Mob City be renewed? If not, what does the future hold for veteran filmmaker Frank Darabont?

Mob City was the true noir fans’ dream, or at least it thought it was. With the femme fatale, the corrupt cops and a dark, brooding atmosphere; Frank Darabont seemed to be right at home with his self proclaimed “passion project.” It seemed, however, that these genre ingredients were not enough to impress critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the show scored a fairly average 65 out of 100, with Metacritic only boasting an overall of 63. The scores led to the question: Why did the critics find the show not up to scratch? One reviewer said the show only boasts “a series of monotonous conversations and shoot-outs.” While over-wrought shootouts were a common complaint among critics, other issues became apparent, such as the show being too hollow and devoid of any real depth to the story or characters, with more emphasis on building a brooding atmosphere through cryptic dialogue and smoke filled Jazz bars. It’s not just the critics’ opinion that matters though; it’s the viewers as well.

It seemed Mob City was received more warmly with viewers of the show, as it scored a 7.8 on IMDB and 8.8 on TV.com. Some commented saying they were fully enthralled in the dark atmosphere and the war between the cops and gangsters, and other history buffs found the clothes, the setting and plot to be “very accurate.” Some viewers found the show to be so enjoyable they went out of their way to campaign for a second season by setting up a whole twitter page named Save Mob City. It turns out the real war in Mob City wasn’t the cops vs. gangsters, but the critics vs. viewers.

There’s only so much as a viewer you can do to save a show, because ultimately the decision boils down to viewing figures, not campaigning twitter pages or critics.

Unfortunately on the 11th of February TNT announced that Mob City would indeed be cancelled. Here is what they had to say about the show “Mob City was created as a three-week television event and we are incredibly proud of the six hours we presented of this remarkable drama. Although the ratings of the limited series haven’t warranted more hours, we are eager to work with Frank Darabont again and were delighted to bring the vibrant world of Mob City to life.”

The show only brought in 2.3 million viewers on the premiere night, and dipped to 1.68 million total viewers on average over the three weeks.

It’s a shame, especially when a world class filmmaker like Frank Darabont will be missing from our television screens, but why did Mob City not bring in the viewing figures? Even when there were huge marketing surges during TBS’ Major League Baseball playoffs and a campaign that included Darabont making several inflammatory remarks about his experience with AMC. So, despite all the advertising, why did Mob City flop?

milo-ventimiglia-mob-cityPerhaps the show was not greatly appreciated because expectations might have been on a character-driven show like The Walking Dead, which focused on relationships in a post-apocalyptic world  overrun by flesh munching zombies. Mob City was almost the complete opposite, with characters being a stage for violence, over-the-top acting and long, deep shadowed alleyways replacing character development. Where in a TV show, if you do not care about what happens to the characters, then why tune in every week? A mistake Darabont may rue.

Another reason why Mob City did not bring in viewers could be that The Walking Dead already had a fan base from the extremely popular comics, where Mob City only had readers of the factual book, L.A Noir, which did not help viewers who had not read the book because of the constant names being thrown around. Viewers who were not familiar with the 1940s had no idea who these people being mentioned were, such as Jack Dragna, Meyer Lansky, and Mickey Cohen, jarring the audience from following the plot.

It’s not just the show’s plot that’s to blame. TNT has to take some of the flack, because their plot to promote Mob City as a three week event series almost said “we don’t have faith in showing one episode a week, so we’ll just rush it through,” hence why the show was labelled as a holiday burn off. It doesn’t exactly entice one to tune in to something that not even its own channel seems to have confidence in.

Aside from that, maybe all those factors just couldn’t live up to the ever impressive prohibition drama Boardwalk Empire on HBO, which Martin Scorsese started, and set such high standards, that anything similar would just drown into the mist.

So with no more Mob City, what’s next for Frank Darabont? Well, he is supposed to have written a first draft for the new Godzilla movie directed by Gareth Edwards which is released on the 16th of May, but again, just like Darabont’s Indiana Jones script, it seems to have been re-written several times over. Apart from that, Darabont has nothing in his diary as yet to announce.

Let me know below whether you think it was the right decision to cancel Mob City.



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