In the Dark is a bamboozling hodgepodge of ideas, most of which wouldn’t have been good on their own, let alone all together.
This recap of the In the Dark Season Premiere contains spoilers.
The premise of In the Dark sounds like a joke — and not a particularly good one, either. In it, Perry Mattfeld plays Murphy Mason, a blind, alcoholic nymphomaniac with a cute guide dog who becomes an amateur sleuth because a teenage friend of hers, Tyson (Thamela Mpumlwana), may or may not have been murdered.
She can’t be sure, obviously, since she’s blind and therefore doesn’t know what he looks like. But when she found a body in his favorite alley and felt its face, it sure did feel like Tyson’s face, which she’d only felt once before. I honestly can’t believe I’m writing this down.
In the Dark, which is a dramedy on the CW, shouldn’t be confused with In Darkness, which was a thriller starring Natalie Dormer, also about a blind woman who got herself embroiled in criminal trouble. Mainstream media clearly has a thing for sexy blind women and similar titles, which to be honest doesn’t surprise me at this point. That movie had a solid premise but jumped the shark by the end; In the Dark has a wacky premise seemingly birthed from a writer’s room trying their hardest to outdo one another, and seems to have jumped the shark before it even began.
Anyway, details. Murphy, having lost her sight as a teenager, is a perpetually moody gadabout who sort-of works for her parents’ (Kathleen York and Derek Webster) guide dog training school but cares much more about getting drunk and laid by a series of men whom **** has made kinky enough to want sex with a blind woman. (This is said aloud.) She’s a proud loner but maintains cautious relationships with her own dog, Pretzel, even though she seems irritated by him, which is unacceptable, her live-in bestie Jess (Brooke Markham), and the aforementioned Tyson, who sold drugs at the behest of his older cousin Darnell (Keston John) and once saved her life.
But, as mentioned, Tyson might be dead. Murphy is convinced he is, but the police (represented almost entirely by Rich Sommer as a good-hearted copper with a conveniently newly-blind daughter played by a winning Calle Walton) have a hard time believing it, so in the absence of any official support she begins to conduct an investigation on her own. This is predictably hampered by the fact she’s (a) blind and (b) has no idea what she’s doing and (c) can’t stop getting drunk and having sex with random men.
In the Dark was written by Corinne Kingsbury, who also worked on the wildly uneven CBS sitcom Fam, and you have to wonder why nobody told her this was ridiculous. There are so many weird elements jockeying for focus and such an absence of any cohesive throughline or point that the whole thing feels like a random collection of throwaway ideas all bundled together. Almost all of the show’s humor comes at the expense of Murphy’s blindness (not in a cruel way, just an easy one) and virtually none of it lands, but the attempts at real drama are even worse because they’re undercut by the entire running time having been spent building up Murphy as a contemptuous sexpot nomad and the relatively unknown Perry Mattfeld isn’t good enough to sell any deeper aspects of the character. Any scenes at the dog training school with Murphy’s parents and her awful co-worker Felix (Morgan Krantz) feel like a not-very-good sitcom until you remember there’s a murder-mystery attached. The whole thing’s a mess.
You could slice In the Dark in any direction and come away with a workable (if not necessarily good) idea for a TV show, but all taken together it’s a bamboozling effort that is quite impressively bad. Honestly, though, I have absolutely no idea where the show intends on going, which I suppose might be reason enough to tune in. Ironically, you might not be able to believe your eyes.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.