Stephen Moyer’s new limited series, Shots Fired is due to premiere in less than a week on Wednesday, March 22, but some early reviews are coming out from critics about the show.
Overall Shots Fired seems to get good reviews for its courage and timely topic. We’ll be able to decide for ourselves about the show once we see it and will provide weekly episode reviews here.
One thing I will say about the series is that whatever reviews it gets, I applaud the creators and Stephen Moyer for their willingness to tackle a very multi-layered, timely and difficult topic.
Below are just “excerpts,” from some of the reviews below. To read the full reviews, click on each link above the text.
In an atmosphere that has seen the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Michael Brown among too many others over the past few years, Shots Fired creators Gina Prince-Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood and executive producer Brian Grazer are nothing if not ambitious in their aim to probe pivotal and timely issues of race, violence, the police, institutional prejudice, loss and the justice system. There are also eminently watchable lead performances by Love And Basketball alum Sanaa Lathan and Race star Stephan James as the mismatched investigator and prosecutor on the cases. Still, Shots Fired rips too much from the headlines to get stuck on the who-done-it track and strays from the more vital why-done-it — which is an opportunity missed.
The strength of the cast overrides some of the plot’s contrivances. Akino doesn’t stray very far from the cliché of the female TV cop whose personal life is a disaster — but Lathan makes her so fierce that you can overlook the writers’ lack of imagination. As the governor, Hunt is a toxic, briefcase Barbie. Jill Hennessy has her best role in years as Alicia Carr, the grieving mother of the dead college student. Veteran character actor Will Patton, who plays the town sheriff, can still make you squirm with a simple smile. The lesser-known cast members — from Wilds, Wise and especially Marqus Clae as Cory, the missing boy — give their characters a palpable yet understated empathy.
Fast-paced and trenchant, “Shots Fired” is a cynical snapshot of the American justice system in freefall.
‘Shots Fired’: The 10-Hour Event Series America Needs Right Now
Fox’s show ‘Shots Fired’ exposes the reality of the repercussions of the recent untimely and unjustified murders of innocent black men, women, and children across the nation.
Shots Fired is what America needs and has been waiting for since the untimely and unjustified deaths of African American women, boys, and men across the nation. This show is a 10-hour event mystery, that allows the viewers to take a hard look at the criminal justice system, due to the shootings of two victims set in Charlotte, North Carolina. This storyline will resonate not only with African Americans, but all Americans no matter what part of the country they reside.
Whether the deaths of those young men were in fact murder; whether a police department’s lone black cop can be effective when all of his colleagues are white; whether school reform can slow down the flow of mostly black men and women to (profitable) prisons; whether citizens want to truly examine the root causes of unrest and resistance in poor communities or just put a tight lid on anger: These are the kinds of questions “Shots Fired” examines with both clarity of purpose and respect for ambiguity.
Co-creator Gina Prince-Bythewood, who directed the first and eighth episodes, and her fellow directors also examine, with immediacy and a great deal of visceral force, what it’s like to be pulled over by the cops — and what that experience is like for the cops who face that potential danger every single day. “Shots Fired” doesn’t vilify cops, nor does it minimize the profound effect they can have on the lives of those they have sworn to serve and protect.
Fox has billed “Shots Fired” as a “limited series,” which isn’t necessarily a bad idea; the quest to tell a more-or-less complete story of race, justice and law enforcement in one fictional American town is part of what gives the drama a sense of forward momentum. But one hopes Prince-Bythewood and co-creator Reggie Rock Bythewood are not done making television. If “Shots Fired” were the first entry in a topical anthology series, that would be welcome news indeed.
A provocative conversation starter often buried in a very conventional Southern police potboiler, the event series Shots Fired had its world premiere on Wednesday (Jan. 25) at the Sundance Film Festival and will air on Fox starting on March 22.
Gina Prince-Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood’s drama is lifted by a number of great performances, particularly a nuanced central turn by Sanaa Lathan. But the elongation of a not-particularly-complex central mystery often pushes its active engagement with current events to the back burner in ways more frustrating than enlightening.
Sometimes Shots Fired articulates its points smartly and with pragmatism, but other times you’re stuck with characters saying things like “Liberals can be racist, too,” as if that weren’t already being illustrated everywhere. Perhaps there isn’t as much hand-holding as in ABC’s American Crime, but it’s also significantly less ideologically ambitious than John Ridley’s drama, which should come with footnotes.
Hinds shines even if Pastor Jenae is one of the characters most prone to announcing what the show’s themes are at any moment. If America Crime is a treatise delivery system that occasionally relies on plot to get from one idea to the next, Shots Fired plays too much as predictable plot delivery system that sometimes steamrolls over its bigger ideas. Still, in its passion and in several performances, there is much to admire here.