Originally Posted by GaylordWilshire
Where is Roman Polanski when you need him?
I was surprised to see that there was no more commentary here on "Mob City" today...and then I sat down to watch it on DVR, and perhaps now understand the silence. Reviews in the NY Times and elsewhere seemed to be positive, claiming the show to be superior to Gangster Squad (which would hardly seem difficult) and even somehow closer in quality to Chinatown—an absurd notion. Aside from the huge number of commercials, annoying even when easily fast-forwarded through on DVR, "Mob City" starts off dully and darkly—in an inauthentic backlot New York. There is very little to suggest Los Angeles...at some point there are more street scenes, these supposedly in L.A., that look like the same NY backlot sets, with Eastern urban basement row housing, vaguely set off by a neon sign reading "Los Angeles Hotel." The vaguest attempt was made to have City Hall appear under construction in a scene marked "1927", but the thing just never seemed to take hold, and seems full of clichés—nightclub singers by the dozen, for one thing. Not a single thing to suggest Los Angeles, 1947. The art director is completely clueless.
Some excellent points there, yes. I laugh at Chinatown comparisons, certainly. However, keep in mind that shooting on a backlot does not necessarily mean it is without history:
“We shot on Hennessey Street on the Universal back lot, and that was a thrill because they probably shot half of their noir B pictures on that street,” chuckles Darabont.
The first scene flashbacks seem to be the formula for each episode and they are a bit heavy-handed. However I love the 'dullness and darkness' of the rest of the show. It's depressing and it should be. I think the acting is suitably understated and the slow jazz excellent. Location-wise, they showed too much of that backlot street, historic or not, in the second episode. But they do get out in the real LA occasionally - Baldwin Hills and the craftsman neighborhoods. The Union Station shots killed me though - top floors of the MTA building visible in the background, yuck.