Smokey nightclubs, meetings in the dark, dangerous dames, and gritty gangsters that you shouldn’t turn your back to; this is the setting of the L.A during the 1940’s, a time that is welcoming back war heroes and creating the underworld. The world of Mob City is based on the book L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City , a collection of real-life accounts of L.A during one of its most violent times, and creator Frank Darabont is able to enhance it by taking the struggles of the 40’s and making it bitter to taste. Mob City is a set during the early struggle of the L.A Police against the Mob, leading the Police is William H. Parker (played by Neal McDonough) a by the books chief of police looking to clean up the city one mobster at a time. On the opposite end, Bugsy Siegel (played by Edward Burns) and his gang are muscling over L.A’s illegal trades and eliminating anyone that stands in their way. Caught in the middle of all this is Joe Teague (Jon Bernthal), a former marine that has ties to both sides, but loyalty to only himself.
I got the chance to watch the first two episodes of Mob City and the show grabbed my attention, bought it a drink and offered me a deal. I am a sucker for a good noir story (Give me troubled characters and some situations that can’t be solved with words and I am hooked) and Mob City is a crime drama is not a simple cops and robbers tale. The first episodes introduces Joe Teagan, a marine turned cop, that has previously quietly observed the early rise of the mob in L.A until he encounters the comedian Hecky Nash, and Hecky hires Joe to be a part time guard since Hecky has some incriminating evidence against mob boss Bugsy Siegel. Joe is stuck helping both the police’s newly created mob squad and his former war companion turned mob fixer Ned Stax (played by Milo Ventimiglia), who has requested Joe assistance in this matter. Joe’s involvement in the crackdown of the L.A crime network has both sides bidding for support, and every man has a price.
Now, I don’t want to spoil much of the finer details since the only parts that haven’t been historically spoiled depend on Joe’s decisions (Bugsy Seigell will be alive and kicking for most of the series, he still has Las Vegas to create!) Factual events with key characters setting up the story, but it’s how characters like Joe, Hecky, and Ned that truly reflect the struggles of the times. Joe is a tragic hero with limited options, and his friends and enemies will force Joe to be involved with the Mob squad and Bugsy’s gang. Hecky Nash is looking for an easy payoff that will lead him a life outside the mob’s control, no matter what the cost. Ned Stax is the man that knows every man has a price, and he will exploit it to rise in the ranks of Bugsy’s gang. Frank Darabont has a decent amount of shocks and violence to keep the show fast paced and the characters intriguing for you to have a love-hate relationship with (You will find someone to angrily cheer for by the second episode).
I highly recommend watching the series if you enjoyed the tension of the first season of The Walking Dead and wished to see something similar in tone (And better dressed). Or, you might already be a fan of the series if you were are a fan of other mobster stories such as “The Untouchables“, “Once Upon a Time in America“, “Bugsy“, “Mob Squad” and the video game “L.A Noire“. Mob City does a fine job in continuing the allure of the rough times of L.A struggle with corruption and greedy. Pour a shift drink, dim the lights and watch how people fighting for L.A’s underworld changed America.