Fresh off the release early this year of Glassthe last movie in his unbreakable trilogy, director M. Night Shyamalan is back with an intriguing new series for Apple TV+. Servant can best be described as a psychological thriller with supernatural undertones, about young parents who hire a nanny to care for their newborn baby. But the nanny — and the baby — aren’t quite what they seem.
Frankly, it’s a surprising move for Shyamalan, who doesn’t normally work for television. Of course he directed the pilot episode of a limited series Quirky Pines in 2015, but he has said he doesn’t like the tight shooting schedule required for TV. “The great thing about the format is that it’s character-driven,” he told audiences at New York Comic-Con last month when the first teaser debuted. “But the amount of content you have to deliver for the amount of time and resources, the math just doesn’t work – that’s why we can count on any show that’s run with the same quality from start to finish.”
Series creator Tony Basgallop convinced him otherwise. It helped that ServantThe series’ 10 episodes are 30 minutes each and set in one location (the grieving couple’s home), giving the series a “playful quality,” Shyamalan said. Like much of his work, the series is set and filmed in Philadelphia, with Shyamalan editing in his own home.
According to the official synopsis, “Servant follows a Philadelphia couple grieving after an unspeakable tragedy that causes a rift in their marriage and opens the door for a mysterious force to enter their home.” Toby Kebbell and Lauren Ambrose play Sean and Dorothy Turner, who struggle with the loss. of their baby, Jericho. Sean agrees to try “edge therapy” – using a doll as a replacement for their dead baby as they process their grief. But it seems Dorothy is beginning to believe that the doll is actually her baby. when she decides to hire a complete stranger named Leanne Grayson (Nell Tiger Free) as a nanny, things start to get really weird, in fine Shyamalan way.
The trailer opens with Leanne’s arrival at chez Turner to care for what we might initially assume is a normal baby. Dorothy considers Leanne a godsend; Sean thinks she’s a little weird. ‘Is she cool with everything? Does she know the situation?’ Sean’s buddy Julian (Rupert Grint) asks. And we see Sean looming over the crib before picking up “baby” Jericho by the legs and letting the doll dangle in the air. First, Sean telling Leanne it’s okay to put the doll down when Dorothy isn’t home. But Leanne also seems to have accepted Dorothy’s delusions, which Sean finds understandably disturbing. The final voiceover asks ominously, “Do you know who welcomed you into your home?”
We don’t get much in the way of a mysterious supernatural force in the trailer, but the cinematography looks spectacular. And there’s evidence that something wasn’t right about the Turner baby’s death. Shyamalan said in NYCC that he has mapped out 60 episodes, or six seasons over six years, for Servant† I’m not convinced this is a strong enough premise to last more than one or two seasons, but the director is known for his unusual concepts and ingenious twists. If anyone could flesh it out for six seasons, it would be Shyamalan.
Servant premieres on Apple TV+ on November 28, 2019.
List of picture by YouTube/Apple TV+