Crime show procedural shows have been around almost as long as television, from the early years of Dragnet to current CBS staples like NCIS and Criminal Minds. But with a plethora of Law and Order reruns that clog up entire channels at a time, it's hard for shows which want to follow the comfort TV formula, yet stand out, to break the mold. That's why we need Season 2 of The Night Of, the HBO show which aired last summer (June of 2016) and is up for several Emmys nominations this fall.
The Night Of starred actor John Turturro as lawyer John Stone, representing Nasir "Naz" Khan, played by Riz Ahmed (who would go on a few months later to have his breakout role in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.) The role of Stone originally was supposed to be played by James Gandolfini, who died before production started. Based on the BBC series Criminal Justice, which only aired a single season, it was one of HBO's most critically acclaimed shows of the last year.
Ahmed's character, Khan, was a college student accused of murder of a woman named Andrea. And while the show worked very hard to keep from using all those slight of hand tricks audiences know so well from Law and Order and others, the real hook was that it never really let us know if Khan was as innocent as he claimed, or if he really did it.
And, spoiler alert, that in turn affected the jury who Khan was tried in front of. Despite Khan's only somewhat convincing argument on the stand that he didn't *think* he did it. Despite all the other twists and turns, and a near call of mistrial due to the improper behavior of Khan's other lawyer Chandra (played by Amara Karan), in the end, we wound up with a show that gave us no concrete answers. There was no comfort that the bad guys were definitely going to jail or that the good guys were exonerated, which is how these series are supposed to function.
Instead, in true to live form, the jury deadlocked, and Khan went home, with no real sense of conclusion, especially now that he's so distant from his real family, and had formed a new one in prison. It was one of the gutsiest endings to a show all year.
True to form, the Emmys have given the show, which was submitted as a "Limited Series," no less than ten nominations, including best actor nods for both Turturro and Ahmed.
With that kind of response, and those kinds of reviews, one would think HBO would be chomping at the bit to get a second season into production, and challenge the crime procedural format again. Heck, the end of the first season sees Stone heading to meet his next client, giving everyone an easy in for another round, and a semi-anthology format to follow, with Stone as the connecting character.
And yet, there's nothing currently on the horizon for a The Night Of Season 2. Why not? Back when the first season ended in 2016, The Hollywood Reporter had an interview with the executive producer Steven Zaillian, who seemed to suggest there would be a next one.
We're thinking about it and if we come up with something we all feel is worthy of doing, we'll do it. This was designed as a stand-alone piece. … That being said, there are ways of certainly kind of taking what it feels like and what it's about and doing another season on another subject.
So what happened? Why did HBO let this fall by the wayside? Let's hope that a few rounds of Emmy gold this month perhaps put the show back on HBO's radar and bring us another season next year.