Weekly Review: Shot in the Dark (season 1)

When night falls on the streets of Los Angeles, teams of videographers known as stringers make their living capturing footage of the crimes, fires, and accidents that occur, selling them to the morning news.

As soon as I saw this series available on Netflix streaming, I knew I had to watch it. I hadn’t seen any promotion for it at all. A simple plot description sufficed. My journey into this show was an interesting one. I became very invested very quickly. As someone who is in the filmmaking business, the overall struggle of these stringers left an impact on me.

I’ve been recommending it at every chance I get. If you were a fan of the film Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, then this reality series will be right up your alley. It follows the same profession that was shown in the film, and it still has all of the same moral implications. It just shows more real life scenarios with real people.

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I will definitely admit that due to the overall dark nature of the show, the writer in me kept looking for a plot. Something would be said that sounded like foreshadowing to me, and I was just waiting for that foreshadowed event to come to pass. It never does though because it’s a reality series, not a narrative series. This doesn’t prevent Shot in the Dark from being an immersive and entertaining experience though.

The first season of this series consists of 8 episodes. It follows three different groups of stringers. The first, and arguably the main focus of the show, is RMG News. This company predominantly consists of three brothers as they struggle to keep up with the competitive stringing business. RMG is in active competition with OnScene.Tv and LoudLabs LLC, and these two companies have a history between them that causes additional conflict.

Personal drama is no new occurrence in reality television, but what sets Shot in the Dark apart from other instances is its subject matter. Whether it’s personal conflicts, trauma from a decently traumatic job, struggling to pay the bills with an unpredictable job or the competition of a media business, this series has a bit of it all. It’s almost like a true crime series in a lot of its subject matter, but it doesn’t focus on the crimes. It focuses on the profession that we pretend doesn’t exist because it’s not nice to think about.

On top of that, the cinematography is pretty brilliant. There are several uses of beautiful cityscapes captured by drone. Those shots contrast with the more gritty shots of crime, accidents, fires, and the like. I thought it was a poetic way to show a city that never truly sleeps. Other than that, it was just pretty nice to look at.

For me, the competition of the job itself was the most compelling part of the series. There are business tactics being done that are hurtful to other companies, tactics that end up benefitting the news media instead of the stringers out doing the leg work.

I rooted for one company over another, getting completely caught up in the stories of the night. I looked forward to seeing which company got the hits and which company didn’t. I got mad. I got excited. Like I said earlier, it was a journey.

There will definitely be times throughout the series that the ethics of the job will spark some discussion. It’s murky. Where do you draw the line when you’re recording something like that? The series does sometimes touch on the morality of it all, depending on what stringer is speaking. There were certainly moments where I stopped and thought about what I would do in a similar situation.

If you’re interested in seeing a reality series that features the same type of profession as seen in the critically acclaimed Nightcrawler, then I would definitely recommend watching Shot in the Dark. Even if that wasn’t your thing, this series could be an interesting experience for you. I’d recommend giving it a shot.

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