You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘Game of Silence’

David Lyons, Michael Raymond-James, Larenz Tate, Bre Blair, Claire Van Der Boom, Deidrie Henry, Conor O’Farrell, Demetrius Grosse

Adapted from a Turkish series, “Game of Silence” tiptoes around the events that set the story in motion, setting up an elaborate revenge plot with an overabundance of twists, many of which don’t hold up to close scrutiny. In that regard, this serialized NBC drama — tonally similar to the program it replaces, “Shades of Blue” — is sort of an anti-binge proposition, where it’s easier to get drawn into the episodes if the viewing is spread out enough to overlook some of the absurdities.

The premise starts promisingly enough, and in a way, brings to mind “Stephen King’s It,” where a group of young teenage friends are brought together by a terrible ordeal, only to be forced to reassemble once they’re grown up. Here, it’s an accident that results in a quartet of 13-year-old boys being locked up in a juvenile facility, where they’re preyed upon by those in charge.

Exactly what happened goes largely unsaid, but the implication is clear long before the word “rape” is ever used. Flash forward a quarter-century to the present, and Jackson Brooks (David Lyons) has established a successful career for himself, working as an attorney in a corporate law firm and engaged to one of his colleagues (Claire Van Der Boom). Yet a chance encounter drags him back into what happened years ago, and the lives of his friends, including pals Shawn (Larenz Tate), Boots (Derek Phillips) and Gil (Michael Raymond-James), who is now involved with Jessie (Bre Blair), the girl who had been a young Jackson’s first love.

The chance to strike back against the warden (Conor O’Farrell) — now a well-established politician seeking higher office — guards and other inmates who abused them would, frankly, seem to be fraught with drama, along with the pain and anguish that the men have labored to keep buried. Yet the series (adapted by David Hudgins, working with “CSI” alum Carole Mendelsohn) further complicates its mix of flashbacks with events that transpired between the two pertinent time frames, as well as an elaborate corruption/drug plot.

As a consequence, the key players are forced to become a kind of “Mission: Impossible” squad, with Jessie volunteering to infiltrate the warden’s campaign and Jackson having to constantly excuse himself from meetings to deal with this flood of contamination from the past. Despite a fine job casting the show — including the principals’ youthful alter egos — the story becomes less convincing as the layers and collateral damage pile up over the nine episodes previewed (with only the finale withheld).

Granted, NBC deserves credit for rolling the dice on some of these more ambitious dramas after its turn toward procedurals, and seeking to compete in a serialized universe that, at least qualitatively, has become a staple of cable. Lacking the presence of “Blue’s” Jennifer Lopez to help garner sampling, the network also wisely pushed back the premiere to give the program an airing behind “The Voice” in advance of taking over “Blue’s” Thursday berth.

In terms of hooking viewers, the pilot puts a reasonably good first foot forward. Yet however much the network might yearn to emulate the success of another series with “Game of” in the title, “Silence” isn’t golden enough to occupy that exalted seat.

TV Review: 'Game of Silence'

(Series; NBC, Tues. April 12, 10 p.m.)

Production: Filmed in Atlanta by Sony Pictures Television and Universal Television.

Crew: Executive producers,Carol Mendelsohn, David Hudgins, Julie Weitz, Tariq Jalil, Timur Savci, Deran Sarafian, Niels Arden Oplev; co-executive producers, Wendy West, Tom Mularz, Christopher Fife; supervising producer, Jerome Hairston; producer, Jean Higgins; director, Oplev; writer, Hudgins; based on the Turkish television series titled “Suskunlar,” produced by Tims Prods.; camera, Eric Kress; production designer, Gae Buckley; editors, Timothy A. Good, Rich Fox; casting, Carol Kritzer, Mark Fincannon. 60 MIN.

Cast: David Lyons, Michael Raymond-James, Larenz Tate, Bre Blair, Claire Van Der Boom, Deidrie Henry, Conor O’Farrell, Demetrius Grosse

More TV

  • NEW YORK, NY – JUNE, 24:

    LGBTQ Stars Honored at Variety’s Power of Pride Celebration

    New York City felt the full power of pride on Monday, as Variety celebrated its inaugural issue devoted to the annual recognition of LGBTQ people worldwide. At an intimate gathering at lower east side Manhattan hotel The Orchid, rooftop bar Mr. Purple hosted Variety’s cover stars and luminaries for cocktails and the unveiling of the [...]

  • WWE

    WWE and PP Sports Extend China Partnership

    WWE and PP Sports have signed a new multi-year agreement that will keep WWE programming airing live in Mandarin in China. In the past three years of the partnership, PP Sports has delivered more than 300 episodes of WWE programming. PP Sports will offer, “Raw,” “Smackdown, and the WWE Network as a subscription VOD service [...]

  • Billy Eichner Power of Pride Variety

    Billy Eichner on Taylor Swift's 'Calm Down' Backlash

    When Taylor Swift released her “You Need to Calm Down” music video, it seemed like every member of the LGBTQ in Hollywood was included — except for Billy Eichner. “I’m still not gay enough for Taylor Swift — or too gay — I don’t know what it is,” Eichner joked at Variety’s Power of Pride [...]


    TV News Roundup: 'Highwire Live in Times Square' Tops Sunday Night Ratings

    In today’s TV news roundup, ABC’s “Highwire Live in Times Square” tops Sunday night ratings, and “Total Bellas” has been renewed for a fifth season. DATES FX will air the special event “Peabody Presents: Stories of the Year” on July 7. The program will showcase the issues honored at the 78th Annual Peabody Awards Ceremony [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Scream' Series Moves From MTV to VH1 for July Debut

    The long-gestating third season of the “Scream” series is finally debuting–but not on its original network. Variety has confirmed that the series will air on VH1 instead of MTV as originally planned. “Scream” will debut on VH1 on July 8 and air two one-hour episodes back-to-back for three straight nights. The third season of the [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Video of Jussie Smollett With Rope Around His Neck Released by Chicago Police

    The Chicago Police Department released new surveillance footage and files in regards to the Jussie Smollett hoax case on Monday, including one that shows the “Empire” actor shortly after the alleged attack. In one of the videos, police body-cam footage shows authorities entering Smollett’s Chicago apartment, led by his manager, Frank Gatson. Smollett is found [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content