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'Nightwatch' review: Alive with the sounds of a dangerous city

Dennis Schorr, Jr., Chief Terence Morris and CPTN

Dennis Schorr, Jr., Chief Terence Morris and CPTN Jerome Baudy star in A&E's new original series, "Nightwatch." Credit: TNS / Richard Knapp

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Darkness shrouds many deeds, or in the words of New Orleans emergency medical service worker Holly: "If you're gonna shoot somebody, you're gonna do it at night; stab someone, do it at night; hide a body, at night. A lot of skeevy things happen at night." This unscripted series set in New Orleans, from Dick Wolf, is essentially the real-life counterpart to Wolf series like "Chicago P.D." or "Chicago Fire." It follows New Orleans cops, EMS workers and firefighters in those long, unquiet hours from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. Holly and Gavin's first call -- a multiple gunshot victim.

MY SAY While the name on the front of this new series reads "Dick Wolf," the even-more-important names arrive at the back -- producers Rasha Drachkovitch, overseer of prolific unscripted production house 44 Blue, and Robyn Younie. These two really know what they're doing, and have done it for many years, in shows like "Boston's Finest," "L.A. Gang Unit" and "Detroit SWAT."

The basic formula: If you follow the people in the trenches, and follow them long enough, you follow the real money, so to speak. From mountains of footage ultimately emerge the voices, characters, style and humanity of the protagonists. That's exactly what happens here.

"Nightwatch" isn't merely well produced, with clean, striking visuals and a sharp clarity in which even shadows seem to come into focus, but it's also alive with the sounds of a beautiful, vital and (most often in the dead of the night) dangerous city.

We learn only the first names of the cops, firefighters and EMS workers featured here, but somehow that almost feels like it's enough. Their brief, sharp, professional interactions with total strangers -- most of whom are either in shock or near death -- tell you all you need to know about them, and strongly indicate that New Orleans is very lucky to be in their capable hands.


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