Dark Winds Season One – Review

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Dark-Star-TV-Review

By Sarah Morgan

Let’s face it, you can barely turn on the TV these days without a crime drama popping up. They’re hugely popular, but some are in danger of becoming a little bit samey, with producers seemingly running out of ideas.–

Indeed, it takes a lot to devise something truly original that stands out from the crowd, so the makers of Dark Winds deserve a massive pat on the back.

Dark-Star-TV-ReviewOriginally broadcast by the channel Alibi in the UK, the first season is being made available on Blu-ray and introduces viewers to Joe Leaphorn, a Native American cop policing the Navajo Nation during the 1970s. If the character sounds familiar, maybe you’ve read the books by Tony Hillerman on which they’re based, or seen one of the previous TV movies inspired by the stories.

“Audicious heist”

The programme begins in suitably nail-biting fashion by depicting an audacious heist – a helicopter lands in the middle of a street, blocking the path of a security van.

The gunmen aboard then rob the truck, killing its two guards before making their airborne escape. While the FBI begins its investigation, it’s the death, apparently by fright, of a young woman, and the brutal murder of an elder in a motel that grabs Leaphorn’s attention – could the two events be linked in some way?

Meanwhile, rookie officer Jim Chee arrives to take up his post as Leaphorn’s new deputy. However, it soon becomes clear there’s more to him than meets the eye…

Throw into the mix a larger-than-life car dealer, a Mormon family inadvertently caught up in the trouble, Native American magic and a pregnant teenager with a mother so scary she could freeze your blood, and you have one of the most original shows I’ve seen for a long time.

What’s more, it all takes place against the backdrop of Monument Valley, an amazing, awe-inspiring place I’ve visited and that always looks stunning, whether in real life or on screen.

Dark-Star-TV-Review

“Steely performance”

Zahn McClarnon delivers a steely performance as Leaphorn, a man trying his best to straddle two worlds – that of his ancestors, and of the white man. He receives excellent support from Kiowa Gordon as Chee and Jessica Matten as Leaphorn’s surrogate daughter/right-hand woman Bernadette, while Noah Emmerich, who memorably played an FBI agent in The Americans, also appears as another member of the profession, this time a rather slimy one with a sideline in casual racism.

Robert Redford apparently optioned Hillerman’s novels in the 1980s, and is among the series’ executive producers, alongside Game of Thrones author George RR Martin – a mark of quality if ever there was one. What’s particularly clever about this take is that it manages to convey some of the issues faced by Native Americans without ever making its viewers feel as if they’re being preached at – it educates while entertaining. And if you enjoy it, the really great news is that a second season has already been made while a third is in production.

‘Dark Winds’ Season One is on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital now

Performances9
Direction7
Screenplay8
Originality8
Special Effects6
7.6
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