Friday, April 3, 2020

REVIEW: 'Home Before Dark' - Hilde Stumbles Onto a Crime After Moving to a Small Town in 'Magic Hour'

AppleTV+'s Home Before Dark - Episode 1.01 "Magic Hour"

Young reporter Hilde Lisko and her family are settling into their new life in a small town - until a shocking event changes everything.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of AppleTV+'s Home Before Dark.

"Magic Hour" was written by Dana Fox & Dara Resnik and directed by Jon M. Chu

Hilde Lisko makes waves the first day after her family moves from Brooklyn to a small town in the Pacific Northwest. She makes a damning accusation of murder in a town where no one can easily believe that such a crime could occur. And yes, the audience could question if she has enough evidence to make that claim or if it is responsible for her to release that suspicion to the public. But she is also a 9-year-old girl with an affinity towards journalism. Her parents support her no matter what even though they too are terrified of what danger she could get into. She has more freedom in this town than she did in the big city. She comments right away that it may not be as safe as an environment where there are crowds of people packed tightly together. Secrets can be long buried in a town like this. She is set to unearth one of them. One that seems to have traumatized her father to this day and cast a long shadow over how this community views the central family. Hilde has an earnest and aspirational ideal of what the truth means and why it is important. The show goes for that sweeping moment where she stands up against the bullies at her school and earns the support of a crowd. It doesn't last long. She is still a kid in a world conditioned to dismiss her as being weird and abnormal. The show is probably a little too heavy handed in that regard as well. It makes things blatant on the surface about how Hilde is a stand-in for all women trying to make their way in their professional lives. She has a passion and will pursue it no matter what. She may be too skeptical and suspicious of everyone around her. But the story also proves that she is right to believe that the people of this town are hiding something. There is something off and eerie about a woman having a yard sale but no one is shopping at it. Hilde can make that connection. The people who engage with her are inspired by what they see. But they also run the risk of dismissing it as her being too much like her father. Her dogged pursuit of the truth is what seemingly defined his life and led to the family having to leave New York. The details of which are vague too. Hilde believes her father was fired but the parents keep talking about the family returning to the city in a few months. This is only a temporary move. Hilde may still make the most of it. She quickly becomes engaged with the community and seeks out answers as to what happened to this friend from her father's past. People are quick to write her off and close their doors in her face. They feel a freedom to do so because she's a child who can't be taken seriously as a journalist. She's a nuisance instead of a valuable source who can offer a unique perspective. She absolutely has that. This premiere works well enough because Brooklynn Prince is instantly captivating and commanding in the lead role. She takes the viewer on Hilde's journey. It may just be the latest season-long mystery show. Each network is trying to produce one of those right now with its own unique hook to it. This project offers a child as the lead investigator for the audience. She is our entry point into this world. It makes it rousing when she wins over some support and uncovers clues that point to even bigger secrets looming throughout this world. But it's also a clear cut metaphor for how much the world wants to dismiss brilliant women while easily getting away with lies in an age of misinformation. Hilde fights for the truth. She upholds that optimism. That needs to remain the central quality in order for the earnestness to win out in the end. The impulse may be too tempting to go dark and drab the deeper she goes to uncover the truth about one woman's murder and a cold case involving a child's disappearance. Things are just being set up right now in a way that lays things out a little too clearly without a whole lot of nuance to them. A person is introduced only through a basic role and why the audience should see them as an ally or be suspicious of what they could do to Hilde's journey. Complexity is necessary in order to elevate the material further.