This summer’s best television viewing has come with “The Night Of” (HBO, 9 p.m.) the terrific adaptation of a British series written by Peter Moffat, “Criminal Justice,” that came into its own with a very particular look at the city of New York and its criminal justice system through the case of a Muslim-American arrested for the murder of a young woman.
After seven remarkable episodes, it comes to a conclusion tonight with a two hour finale.
Seven years in the making, in part because James Gandolfini, who was to have starred, died after the remarkable pilot was shot; “The Night Of” thrived from the screenwriting of Richard Price, the novelist who previously worked on “The Wire.”
At the TV Critics Association’s summer press tour last month in Beverly Hills, I asked Price how his detailed, nuanced approach differed from his previous work.
“Well, this is a unique situation since it was based on a British series,” Price said. “It was not made out of whole cloth. It was to Americanize the story and to go into much greater detail about the legal system. The original was four hours. This is eight hours.”
In that, he said, “it’s an inherited starter yeast,” he said. “It’s not like, you know, just put it in a microwave, hit 60 seconds, and serve.”
Shelving the cooking metaphor, he said, “ It’s the antithesis of ‘Law & Order.’ That’s all I can tell you.”
When I asked what he created to fill up the extra four hours, he said, “It was basically the little small chips of life, going through a gauntlet like that, that expands to show a whole universe.”
“It was a painful process,” Price said. “It was not speed chess.”
There has been no big announcement for an addition season of “The Night Of” but executive producer Steven Zallian says “This was designed as a standalone piece. That being said, there are ways of certainly taking what it feels like and what it’s about and doing another season on another subject. So we’re talking about it.”
“I think all the characters are beautifully written,” said John Turturro, who plays the excema-plagued defense attorney John Stone. “iI was a wonderful collaboration with Steve and Richard, and, you know, I’d certainly be open to exploring it further. But I just thought it was a beautifully written piece, full of nuance. And I get to work with a great group of actors.”