Deep, dark, funny, and reflective is the TNT television show Public Morals. It airs on Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m. My wife kept telling me to watch it so finally I did. I’m really a tough TV audience—which is not to say that I don’t watch a fair amount of it with lukewarm results. I’ll often watch “bad TV” just to see what people are tripping on. It’s like watching a sociological experiment, much of it discouraging.
But Public Morals wasn’t discouraging. Even before I picked up on the story line, I was immediately struck with the writing and acting. I'm no gangster, you’ll be glad to know, but I've known more than a few questionable people and I’m quite sure some of them were. And I sometimes used to hang out in the Hell’s Kitchen area during the 60s era and quite well remember what it was like, colorful and exciting, seedy and disreputable, abject to great heights. It was a place of contradiction, those contradictions being well displayed in the TV show Public Morals.
I kind of related to PM too b/c a while back I almost got jammed up in one of those "Westie" Hell's Kitchen Irish mob places where a guy like Richie Kane (he’s a character in the show played by Aaron Dean Eisenberg) came in and called out the restaurant-bar manager or owner and scared the shit out of everyone. I got out of there in a hurry, didn't even want to know what was going on. Public Morals made me remember that. I like the way the show feels, real people, nice people, flawed people.
I'm big on realism. For me, there’s too little realistic material on TV and way too much fantasy. Everything's about gadgets & technology, and avoidance of reality. Not so with Public Morals. It’s a big plus that the Public Morals actors all seem to know what that New York thing is/was about. I don't normally gush about TV programs but I have a strong feeling about PM and urge you to watch it if only for my sake.
I try to write myself so I know how hard it is to do something creative without falling into rubber stamped formulas. I was just very impressed with the way Ed Burns put the whole thing together—writing, directing, acting, casting. It's very hard to do just one of those things and he's done them all.
He found all these great down to earth actors with some keystone figures like Brian Doheny playing the Irish first generation who worked their way up to power and influence. I never watch the “extras” that come with the On Demand versions but I watched nearly all of the short interviews with Burns. He was so honest and without pretension, as were the actors who shouted out to me on Twitter (to my great surprise and delight).
.Have to say the sets are great, so are the period idiosyncrasies, costuming, graphics. Watch it if you want to see that great old pre-hipster good bad old New York complete with the hookers on Times Square we used to try to talk to when we were kids.
The individual scenes flow nicely and are knit together well. I like the way everyone has one attitude or another. There's a lot of ironic humor in the writing, too; it’s brilliant writing. Alright, this is TMI, I know. Too bad I'm not some kind of big deal critic, right?
Just watch it, okay. I’m telling you. And repent your sins, for chrissakes!