TV blog: 5 reasons to relish the new Mob City

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ENTERTAINMENT

1. The style
We should be thinking Boardwalk Empire, but this LA-set series pushes us towards Mad Men. Men wreathed in smoke (cigarette or gun), collars and ties, titfers cocked, turn-ups sharp. The jazz makes the whisky smooth as a barman's nod.

Meanwhile, fast receding perspectives, rattling autos and speak-easy nightclubs conjure up Prohibition, although this is 1947. The world's turned upside down and the coins are spilling from its pockets into greedy hands.

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2. The noir
It's a shadowy twilight, the Mobs and the cops. Black hats and white hats or some - like protagonist Joe Teague (Jon Bernthal, above) - grey. Shadows make character. (Teague's knocked-about nose should get a mini-series.) Black shot through with blistering white. Sleazy neon caught in rippling puddles. Faces - like hearts - wrapped in dark. Meanwhile, there's always a silky femme fatale with a Zippo to light up your smoke and honey-drip world-weary wisdom about fresh sheets and fresh starts.

3. Robert KnepperTV_mob2.jpg
You need fast-talkin', cold-eyed killer. Who better than the stand-out character from Prison Break, Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell? As psycho Sid Rothman, he eats scenery for breakfast then spits out splinters into your eye. The pretty boys don't stand a chance. Taking of which... Simon Pegg (Hecky Nash) does a neat turn as a Mob-connected comedian on the make.

4. The story
The source material is John Buntin's book LA Noir, a true-life tale of the decades-long battle between LAPD's police chief William Parker (Justified's Neal McDonough) and ruthless mobsters like Bugsy Siegel (Edward Burns). The production started off called LA Noir, went to Lost Angels and landed on Mob City, which is not Chicago, as it suggests (unless you're using Apple Maps).

5. Frank Darabont
He did Shawshank and he did The Walking Dead so he knows about what crooked souls need to do to survive. The Mob City show runner, on set below, takes the cinematic production values of Steven Spielberg and the story telling skills of Stephen King and puts it all on screen, bit of style here, bit of substance there. Great dialogue too. Men speak in terse haikus ("This city. So damned beautiful. But only from a distance.") Unless they're crazy or desperate, which case they burble and sweat to postpone the inevitable.

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Mob City is on Fox, 10pm, Fridays, or via catch-up services

Follow Giles Broadbent on Twitter: @MediaGulch


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