The Sinner is your not typical crime show and that’s on purpose. It’s not typical because they tell you whodunit right at the start. The information the lead detective (Bill Pullman) needs to uncover is why; why did an ordinary woman commit an unspeakable and surprising crime, seemingly with no motive or rationale?
It’s a clever twist on the genre. Many crime shows of the modern era have become lazy and formulaic: there’s a crime; a bad guy; trouble; triumph! Show over. But The Sinner is different, and should it succeed (and by all accounts it is), it’s likely to spawn clones eager to benefit from its success.
While our friends in the United States have already enjoyed the first four episodes, we fans north of the border are getting our first glimpse at the show tonight, with its Canadian premiere happening this evening at 10 (ET/PT) on Showcase.
The Sinner both stars, and is executive produced by Jessica Biel, whose production company developed the show based on the novel of the same name by novelist Petra Hammesfahr.
The show looks to be charged with a raw and emotional performance from Biel, who certainly plays against type here. Her performance is far removed from many of the characters she’s played in the past and if she was looking for a role from which to catapult her career in a new direction, The Sinner looks to be an excellent platform.
Some credit is due Bill Pullman as well, seen in his first lead role in some time. He offers depth and a grizzled gravitas to small town Detective Harry Ambrose who becomes obsessed with uncovering the motive for Cora Tannetti’s (Jessica Biel) horrifying crime.
It would be easy for an actor of less than Pullman’s caliber to play Ambrose as one-note, perhaps angry or confused. But Pullman infuses Ambrose with sensitivity and wisdom; with awe, and understanding. Pullman hasn’t had the opportunity to play such juicy roles of late, and the way he seems to revel in the complexity of Ambrose proves to be a revelation.
Hopefully The Sinner proves a catalyst for better roles to come.
And while the content of the show seems unlikely to offer a path to a sequel, it hasn’t been ruled out, with underlying whydunit premise remaining in tact, with a new crime and victim. It could prove another winner for the USA Network and Showcase.
The Sinner is an anthology series so it is eight episodes long and the story is self-contained, so all the loose ends will be tied up by the end.
If you enjoy crime dramas, it would definitely be worth watching The Sinner premiere tonight to see how you enjoy the premise, overall.
The Sinner premieres tonight, August 21/2017, at 10 pm (ET/PT) on Showcase in Canada.