TV Review: The Night Manager (2016)

Posted: June 26, 2016 in Action, Drama, Romance, TV
Tags: ,

The Night Manager

Episode 1:

Jonathan Pine, (Tom Hiddleston) the night manager of an Egyptian hotel, gets involved with Sophie Alekan  (Aure Atika) the mistress of Freddie Hamid. (David Avery) The Hamid family is very rich and Freddie is an arms dealer.  After Sophie is murdered, Pine overhears Hamid talking to British businessman and philanthropist, Richard Onslow Roper. (Hugh Laurie) Four years later, while working in Zermatt, Switzerland, Pine runs into Roper again.  This time he finds some of Roper’s used SIM cards and calls Angela Burr, (Olivia Colman) at the British Foreign Office.  Later, Pine and Burr meet, and Angela asks Jonathan to spy on Roper, and get evidence of his arms dealing.  Does Pine do it?

The pacing of the episode is slow, but the acting is first rate.  Hidddleston is superb as a suave ex-Iraqi war vet turned hotel night manager. Hugh Laurie is also very good as the smarmy super-rich businessman/philanthropist.  The writers try to spice up the script with some sex and nudity, which is troubling, but the acting saves the script.

Episode 2:

Roper is having dinner with his girlfriend, Jed (Elizabeth Debicki) and his son, Daniel (Noah Jupe) in Majorca Spain, when Albanian kidnapers break in and take Daniel.  The Albanians are stopped by Pine using an alias, Thomas Quince, and working as a sous chef.  It’s a ruse hatched by Burr, and Roper’s right hand man Corky, (Tom Hollander) is suspicious.  Does Roper let Pine into his inner circle?

Again the backstory about Pine’s alias is a little slow in developing, but there are some nice touches, although I still don’t like the ‘sex as a substitute for plot’ writing, this episode ends in a cliffhanger and the next episode should be exciting. Hiddleston gets to play tough guy in this one.  Laurie plays this episode a little too trusting.  I don’t think the writers gave him enough material to work with, they should have made Laurie’s character much more complex and conniving.  Laurie is a great actor and deserves better material than he’s getting so far. Tom Hollander adds some life to this episode as Corky, Roper’s confidante.

Episode 3: 

At a party in Madrid, Roper’s lawyer, Juan Apostol’s (Antonio De La Torre) daughter Elena’s (Tabita Cerezo) apparent suicide is making Apostol re-think his allegiance to Roper. After grilling Pine for a while, Roper welcomes Pine into his inner circle.  Pine wastes no time in planting the seeds of doubt about Corky to Roper and ingratiating himself to Jed. Does Pine find incriminating evidence on Roper’s weapons dealing, and can he get the evidence back to Angela Burr while being watched by Roper’s henchmen?

The script seems to make everything a bit too easy for Pine, after a light grilling, Roper accepts who he is, and that’s all the tension in this episode.  The women cry on Pine’s shoulder, Roper’s kid likes Pine more than he likes Roper, and all of Roper’s henchmen have issues that are easy to exploit and blackmail.  And Roper is blissfully unaware of what’s going on around him.  There’s some sexual tension between Pine and Jed, but no spy tension between Pine and Roper, hopefully that will come.

Episode 4:

Roper gives Pine a front company, new clothes, and a new identity, and flies him off to Istanbul to make an arms deal, much to Corky’s chagrin.  Angela tries to get information from Apostol.  Pine and Jed share a kiss, but can he trust her?  Is the British government involved in the arms deal business, Angela gets a clue, and intends to follow the lead to its conclusion.

Finally, the viewer gets to see what goes on behind the façade of Roper’s conventional businesses, and things start to get exciting.  The story took a long time to get here, but it is finally starting to pay off.  There’s also a backstory about Angela that makes her character a lot more interesting and explains her dogged pursuit of Roper.  Laurie is still lurking in the background, but hopefully that will change soon.   Hiddleston has had all the fun so far.

Episode 5:

Roper asks Pine if he knows who leaked his arms shipment documents to Angela Burr.  Pine suggests Corky or Sandy, but denies involvement himself.  Roper and Pine arrive in Turkey with the arms to put on a demonstration for a perspective buyer, but Pine leaks more details to Angela through a cab driver and she’s tracking the arms to Syria.  Can she get permission from her old boss Rex to inspect the shipment before the shipment gets to Syria?

This episode has some exciting moments and some badly written moments. I still say the writers should have given Roper more of an edge.  No arms dealer would have dealt with a leak inside his organization like Roper did.  There was one twist that I didn’t see coming, and it keeps the cliffhanging aspect of the show alive until the finale.

Episode 6:

Angela Burr is chastised by the Permanent Secretary, and her department is defunded.  Pine calls Burr’s cell phone and conveys to Angela that he is in Egypt where an arms sale is going to transpire.  With nowhere else to go, Angela and Joel Steadman follow Pine to Egypt.  Pine sees Freddie Hamid, who he holds responsible for Sophie’s death.  Will Pine exact his revenge on Freddie?  Will Pine stop the shipment?

I liked the setup to this miniseries, but I still think the Roper character should have been given much more of an edge, he never gets his hands dirty, his goons always take care of the heavy lifting.  Laurie tried to make Roper interesting, but he was just written too blandly. Hiddleston really got all the best scenes in the script by far.

I still say, that despite all the flaws in the writing, The Night Manager is worth watching.  Hugh Laurie makes the most of his underdeveloped character.  Hiddleston gets to play action hero, love interest, and spy all rolled into one, and made the most of it. Elizabeth Debicki is a Barbie doll, with no acting skills whatsoever. Olivia Colman grew on me as Angela, the overworked, haggard, earnest, bureaucrat, trying to stop an arms deal abroad and corruption at home. Tom Hollander is the biggest surprise  as Corky, he’s the only one who figures out what Pine is up to and tries repeatedly to warn Roper, to no avail.  Hollander is funny, sadistic, and oddly sympathetic as Corky.    It’s a great all-around performance. The acting makes The Night Manager much better than it should be, given an often poorly written script, and many plot holes.

The Night Manager:  Manages to be good, despite some poor writing.

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