Cornelius Smith Jr. gives a career-best performance as Five Days At Memorial is a gut-wrenching look at one of the biggest disasters of our generation.
This review of the Apple TV+ series Five Days at Memorial season 1 does not contain spoilers.
When I first turned on Five Days at Memorial, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the series. You have this story of one of the most traumatic times in this generation and having to unpack it all and understand the things we are about to watch are real wasn’t an easy pill to swallow.
Five Days at Memorial is a miniseries based on the 2013 book written by Sheri Frink, Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital. The show was written and directed by John Ridley and Carlton Cuse. It stars Vera Farmiga, Adepero Oduye, and Cornelius Smith Jr.
When this series begins, John Ridley’s execution with the pilot is out of this world. You are engulfed in this insane chaos of this hospital as they are preparing for yet another huge hurricane. Now the magnitude of what was ahead wasn’t present yet, but seeing everyone dot their eyes and cross their T’s brought that level of intrigue for what was ahead. Ridley and Cuse never let up from the pilot to those final moments of the credits rolling.
It’s interesting to watch a series like this because you know some of it will be “Hollywood-ized” to bring that extra drama. However, you look between those blurred lines and see a real story of a real hospital with real doctors, and it becomes downright terrifying. At any given moment, this could happen again, and hundreds of lives could be altered forever. Cuse and Ridley knew what they had story-wise and were able to capitalize on it by using it to play with the audience’s emotions.
I could rant and rave about the incredible writing, but I would be crazy, not to mention the acting in this series. Honestly, there isn’t a bad performance in this entire show. It starts at the top with Vera Farmiga, who delivers some incredible work in the back half of these episodes. That said, Cornelius Smith Jr. gives the best performance of his career in the series. He stands out with this fierce sense of vulnerability while delivering some genuine raw emotional moments. I was blown away by his work.
My biggest concern for the overall series was that it would overstay its welcome with eight episodes and it did not do that one bit. Each episode has a rhythm and a reason within its story-telling that you are latched onto what is ahead.
Overall, you are not going to want to miss this series. Apple TV+ continues to deliver on a different level from these streaming platforms. Five Days At Memorial is easily one of the best series of 2022, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this in the conversation next Emmy season.
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