In a sense, it’s hard to watch ‘The Crowded Room’ without thinking in some way about another recent Apple TV+ drama like ‘City on Fire’. Or at least it happened to me when I put on this new series of cut between the criminal and the psychological of the platform.
Curiously, both coincide in wanting unravel the mystery surrounding its young protagonist after a crime. Both puzzles are made up of glimpses of a past filled with disappointment and trauma. Of course, here there is a fairly large distance between the two protagonists and between the tones of both series. The one starring Tom Holland is decidedly sadder and more sentimental.
The young Marvelite star stars in a miniseries of ten episodes as Danny Sullivan who, awaiting trial for a shooting in the middle of Manhattan, is interrogated by Rya (Amanda Seyfried), who tries to win the boy’s trust little by little by scratching what is behind the (quite subjective) story of his life.
For some reason, from Apple TV + he has decided to consider an important detail about the protagonist of the miniseries as a spoiler, while at the same time, he says out loud that it is inspired by literary true crime ‘The Minds of Billy Mulligan‘ by Daniel Keyes. A case that also has its own documentary, for example, this one on Netflix called ‘Internal Monsters: The 24 Faces of Billy Mulligan’. They have basically changed the name and, it seems, the nature of their crimes.
In fact, this is what really interested me in the series, beyond the actors involved in it (I also declare myself a fan of Emmy Rossum, as well as Holland and Seyfried). We are with a good premisequite interesting, and that could become a good psychological thriller or, much more specifically, about the mind of crime.
However, what on paper is very powerful is spoiled by purely production decisions. What weighs down ‘The Crowded Room’ the most is its long duration since one notices, practically from the beginning, that many adventures have to be done to fill ten episodes with something that is barely meager enough for six, being generous.
A problem that also comes from a script by Akiva Goldsman (who has been involved with the Star Trek series for years) with much less to tell than he thinks in which his story unfolds over a rather slow fire. Although there are a couple of those turns that make you think about everything you’ve seen so far, the feeling that all the footage gives is that of going around the same circuit.
Which is not to say that it lacks interest. Seyfried’s character seems to me to be the best of ‘The Crowded Room’ and she manages to make the viewer an accomplice so that we can join the pieces of information that we are given. Also the series casts a compassionate and even warm look towards the protagonist and his life in which, curiously, it displays some two-dimensional secondaries (probably to reinforce the point of view of the protagonist).
But those slight glimmers of virtue are not enough. In short, I think the biggest flaw in ‘The Crowded Room’ it’s your lack of direction, drifting without a clear purpose, without a true story to tell, through ten episodes. A new disappointment in the Apple TV + catalog.
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