City Press review: iNumber Number
Johannesburg - Let’s call it the big people’s Skeem Saam. iNumber Number is a gritty crime drama filled with guns, sex workers, drugs and unrelenting angst. It would actually be better suited for a weekday time slot, rather than Sunday nights, because it might just sour your Sunday viewing experience. Confrontational TV isn’t popular with Sunday viewers, and it will be interesting to see if SABC1’s upcoming Tjovitjo will be discerningly different.
As the TV extension of the 2014 film of the same name, iNumber Number sees detectives Shoes (Presley Chweneyagae) and Chilli (Sdumo Mtshali) try to take down Jozi crime boss Mkoto (Mncedisi Shabangu). Stylised in muted browns and greys, the show could benefit from some moments for both character and viewer to just reflect on the fast-moving plot developments and consequences of the characters’ actions.
From the same heavy, crime drama cloth as SABC1’s Uzalo and e.tv’s Harvest both currently on air, iNumber Number’s addition makes it feel as if local television is in an all-out race to see who can “out-numb” viewers the most. Its unvarnished crime story depictions lack even the smallest bit of optimism.
Nothing is wrong with the character development, as good guys are gradually pulled to the dark side, but some quieter moments of introspection would help to deepen the understanding of what the main and supporting characters are actually feeling and the motivation behind some of their actions.
Something that wouldn’t matter to viewers, but is disappointing nevertheless, is how handicapped iNumber Number – with head writer Sean Steinberg – looks when it comes to black scriptwriters on a TV drama aimed at a black audience on a channel like Mzansi Magic. Were there really no more black TV writers available who were good enough for iNumber Number’s story team of Amanda Lane, Thishiwe Ziqubu, Gillian Breslin, Darrel Bristow-Bovey and Lerato Khanye? If South Africa wants to open up the industry, it should start behind the scenes and let in more authentic voices.
While it isn’t Hallmark-card entertainment, the show does broaden the scope of crime storytelling for television. You just might need to press pause after every 10 minutes to catch your breath before continuing.
Watch iNumber Number on on Sunday on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) at 20:00