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In The Dark - Pilot - Advanced Preview: Honest New Series

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In The Dark is the newest addition to CW's Spring schedule. This show marks a bit of a departure for the network as it lands far more in the realm of realistic adult life instead of dealing in teenage drama or superhero antics. It is still the CW, so the show does have some exaggerated moments, but it is very raw and honest and doesn't pull very many punches. The show is about Murphy (Perry Mattfeld) who just so happens to be blind due to a degenerative disease that took her sight in her teenage years. She does not let her blindness hold her back and by that, she seems to be trying to screw up her life just as much blind as she was doing when she could see. As the show reveals in the pilot, she is overcompensating for a lot of issues in her life, which adds so many layers to the character.

The very concept of this show required an actress that could not only realistically portray being blind, but also handle the complex layers that make Murphy tick. Mattfeld was perfectly cast. The perfect timing in her delivery of snarky lines to showing the complexities that make Murphy the complicated woman she is are all on point. She brings a tough bravado to the character while also showing the vulnerabilities that Murphy has tried so hard to lock away. Not only did the casting team do a phenomenal job in casting their lead, but they surrounded her with a top-notch group of performers who bring just the right balance and nuance to their respective parts.

Many of Murphy's vulnerabilities come out when she is alone with her roommate, Jess (Brooke Markham), who is one of the very few people that Murphy seems to trust without question. The friendship between Murphy and Jess does provide some challenges for Jess's relationship with her girlfriend Vanessa (Humberly Gonzalez). This relationship, between Jess and Vanessa, is another area where the show is very surprising in its honest realism. Markham and Gonzalez have a beautiful connection that allows them to sell this relationship in a stunningly realistic way. What they have is just very real and honest and perhaps one of the least drama-filled same-sex relationships currently portrayed on television. This is the CW, so it is almost a guarantee that at some point they'll face some issues, but they start off on very solid ground. They are allowed to kiss, touch and caress each other in a way that many other shows seem to pull back on. In the first few episodes alone, they have more tender moments than some of CW's other same-sex couples get in a whole season. The only semblance of conflict in their relationship is Murphy because she knows how to push Vanessa's buttons, but they both care about Jess, so they seem to have an unspoken understanding to try to be civil to each other even though Jess does occasionally have to play moderator.

All the substantial relationships on the show have that same level of honesty. Murphy and Jess have a very pure friendship. There doesn't seem to be much they wouldn't do for each other. Jess quite literally goes to some really sketchy places to help Murphy. The same level of honesty is given to Murphy's relationship with her parents, Hank (Derek Webster) and Joy (Kathleen York). She has an extremely complex relationship with them and it isn't glossed over or neatly dealt with in a single episode. The issues between them are very real and not overly emphasized in a way to make them unbelievable. One can easily believe that someone like Murphy would have this very same dynamic with her parents. Just for a tiny bit of needed drama, Murphy does try to work at her parent's guide dog training school, Guiding Hope. That leads to some of the few more convoluted bits of the story, but it feeds well into the overall discovery of who Murphy is in the Pilot.

One of her most interesting relationships is with a young teenage street kid named Tyson (Thamela Mpumlwana). Bits of their dynamic feel a bit forced at first, but it quickly becomes clear what these two characters like about each other. They met in a horrible way and from that point forward became big parts of each other's lives. When something horrible happens to Tyson it upends Murphy's world and sends her spiraling. It is what happens to him that kicks the story into high gear and gives her a sense of purpose. He turns out to be a driving force for Murphy and will certainly be the driving force of the season as Murphy seeks out to understand what happened to him.

The mystery surrounding Tyson leads Murphy to cross paths with his cousin Darnell (Keston John) as well as Police Detective Dean Riley (Rich Sommer) both of whom become significant parts of Murphy's overall journey. The cast is rounded out by Morgan Krantz who plays Felix, a key player at Guiding Hope and Casey Deidrick who joins the series in the second episode as Max Parrish. All of these guys challenge Murphy in very different ways, but they all serve a purpose within her life. There is also Chloe (Calle Walton) who is Dean's daughter. She forms an unexpected connection with Murphy, they are kindred spirits in many ways. Perhaps the biggest star of the supporting cast is a scene-stealer by the name of Levi, who portrays Murphy's guide dog Pretzel. There are no throwaway characters in this show. Every character, no matter how minor, has a purpose and that's refreshing.

This Pilot takes a little time to get its flow going, but once it does it proves to be very addictive and engaging. Truthfully it is hard to predict how a show like this will do on the CW. It has all the hallmarks of a terrific show, but the fact it is lacking some of the typical CW hallmarks is either going to help it or hurt it. With Jane The Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ending this season there is hopefully some room for the network to nurture it along like they have other shows like Dynasty. Even before seeing it a lot of people have said it will be "one and done" and honestly they may be correct, but this show deserves a fair chance to be more than one of CW's multitudes of "one and done" shows. Only time will tell, but this show is certainly worth watching and surviving beyond a first season to keep telling the story of Murphy and all her friends and family. Set aside time to watch In The Dark when it premieres on Thursday, April 4th at 9/8C. Then be sure to add it to your weekly viewing schedule.

Hit the comments with your thoughts about this series. Are you excited about the show? Curious about it? What should Vanessa and Jess's ship name be? Vessa? Jenessa? Will Murphy be able to figure out what happened to Tyson? Do you think this show has a future beyond the first season? Will you be watching?

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