From a writing perspective, one of the upshots of creating a science fiction and fantasy narrative is that the number of stories one can tell is nearly endless. However, that does not mean that the reader or viewer is entertained.
The pilot of the new NBC series, Debris, premiered last night. MI6 agent Finola Jones (Riann Steele) and CIA agent Brian Beneventi (Jonathan Tucker) have been tasked with answering questions about an alien space craft and its effects on human beings.
If I was generous, I would give this program an A for effort. The show tries to live up to the trailer and the genre. But it was nothing more than background noise. Whatever story hook the created is non-existent. Though I did finish watching the pilot, there was nothing that inspired me into continuing on with further episodes.
We can learn a lot about a specific group of people and their culture by their food. Without stepping into a lecture hall, we receive a history lesson, learn about their traditions, and hopefully begin to see them beyond the stereotypes.
So far, I enjoyed both programs. Tucci approach to his family’s native land is that of love, respect, and curiosity. Like many Americans whose family came from elsewhere, he uses food to introduce viewers to an Italy that only the locals know. Instead of lionizing Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln: Divided We Stand introduces the viewer to the man behind the myths.
When one thinks of the Western genre, the image of shootouts, cowboys, Indians, and a mass expanse of untamed wilderness. Most of the main characters are men. If there are any women, they are either the sweetheart/love interest of the hero, a prostitute wearing next to nothing, or an extra in the background.
The 2017 limited Netflix series, Godless, takes these tropes and fleshes them out. In the American West of the 1880’s, the town of La Belle, New Mexico has lost most of it’s men in a mining accident. The women are in charge, taking the places of their fathers, husbands, and brothers. Alice Fletcher (Michelle Dockery) is a widow living on the outskirts of town with her son and mother-in-law. In the middle of the night, she shoots an intruder. Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell) is a former follower of Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels), a criminal with a very long rap sheet.
When Frank discovers that Roy is in La Belle, it will be up to the women to defend their home from Frank and his murderous gang.
After watching only a couple of episodes, I have been hooked. I love that instead of being limited in scope, the female characters have finally been given their due. Strengthened by their mutual loss, the women come together to take a stand. From a writing standpoint, I also very much appreciate the equality between the men and women in terms of the spotlight. Each is given a turn to shine without sacrificing who they are and what they believe.
*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.
*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series The Jeffersons. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.
There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. The American dream is the ability to pull yourself and your family up by your bootstraps. But as we all know, that dream still does not apply to everyone. On The Jeffersons, the patriarch of the family, George Jefferson is not exactly humble.
Descending from sharecroppers, and growing in poverty during the Depression, George became a business owner. Opening a chain of dry cleaners, he was able to move his wife Louise (Isabel Sanford) and son Lionel (played by both Damon Evans and Mike Evans) from Harlem to Queens and then finally to the Upper East Side of Manhattan. There are some in his shoes who would be unassuming and appreciative. But not George.
Like his former neighbor, Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor), George is arrogant, full of it, and has certain ideas about certain people. Though underneath it all he is a loving and supportive husband and father, that is not the impression one gets upon meeting him for the first time. He takes pleasure in riling up his neighbors, Tom and Helen Willis (Franklin Cover and Roxie Roker), and their maid Florence Johnston (Marla Gibbs). His schemes to bring in more money usually ended up in failure, to be replaced with a new idea.
To sum it up: George Jefferson should be proud of his success. In his time, what he was able to achieve is nothing to sneeze at. But there is a thin line between pride and arrogance. That being said, the reason that audiences have loved this character for nearly fifty years is the duality of being a good spouse and parent and having a large ego. Balancing both aspects, George appeals to the audience in a way that not only breaks boundaries but reveals the human side to what could easily be a dislikable man.
It has been said that experience is the best teacher. It is only through doing and making mistakes that we become better at whatever we are trying to do.
From the outside, the process of flipping a house looks simple. You buy a rundown property, fix it up, and re-sell it for a profit. But just because it looks simple does not mean it is simple. Flipping Virgins aired on HGTV from 2006-2012. Hosted by Egypt Sherrod, each episode follows those who are new to business of house flipping. Guided by Sherrod, the subjects will choose the property, renovate it (with the expected complications along the way), and hope that it is sold.
I like this show. Though it is reality television, it is a nice change from the other shows in this genre in which the experts go through the same process.
Satire is a beautiful thing. But it can also cross the line.
During the Weekend Update portion of last weekend’s Saturday Night Live, anchor Michael Che made a joke about Israel. To say that it did not go over well is an understatement.
The question I have to ask, is it satire or antisemitism?
I get that it was a joke. Weekend Update is not your serious local weeknight news. It is supposed to be funny and perhaps bordering on not exactly being 100% politically correct.
That being said, I can’t help but agree that it did have a slightly anti-Semitic undertone. My people have been persecuted and murdered because of the lies that have been told about us.
Unlike other countries (ahem, United States) on which the the rollout of the vaccine programs have been unnecessarily complicated or messy, the Israeli government got their shit together. As of February 4th, US News & World Report put out a story that all Israelis over the age of sixteen were able to get the vaccine. The important word in this headline is all. There was no mention of any specific group that was either pushed to the head of the line or denied access because of their religious or cultural background.
I’ve been a fan of SNL for more than twenty years, this program is usually the highlight of my weekend. I can usually laugh at anything. But this joke, I cannot and will never be able to laugh at.
I would love to say that every marriage is a perfect vision of happily ever after. But we all know that some marriages are complicated, to say the least.
The new Netflix mini-series, Behind Her Eyes, based on the book of the same name by Sarah Pinborough, premiered last week. Louise (Simona Brown) is a single, divorced mother who works at a psychiatry office three days a week. She was supposed to have a girls night out with a friend at a local bar. But when her friend does not show up, she starts up a conversation with David (Tom Bateman). What starts with a brief flirtation ends with a kiss. But before it can go any further, he makes his excuses and walks away.
The next day, David and Louise meet up again. The sizzling attraction from the night before has not dissipated. But he is her new boss, making any relationship other than a profession one impossible. He is also married to Adele (Eve Hewson), who has a complicated past. Then Louise and Adele bump into each other and become friends. Though David and Adele project the image of a picture perfect marriage, their relationship is not so perfect.
I’ve only seen the first two episodes. I also have yet to read the book. But so far, I am enjoying this not so simple love triangle with three characters, who each in their own way, are damaged.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Behind Her Eyes is available for streaming on Netflix.
The game of politics has always been a sticky one. The question I have to ask, is when push comes to shove, do those in the halls of power serve themselves or the voters who hired them?
The big political news of the week is that Ted Cruz decided that it was a good time to take a vacation in Mexico while his fellow Texans are trying their best to survive a snow storm that has knocked out power, heat, and water.
. “Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business,”
What is the purpose of the federal government, if not to step in when a storm of this magnitude creates such destruction in its wake? People are burning their furniture and bundling up in as many clothes or blankets as humanly possible to stay warm.
I don’t know who these men are trying to impress. It’s as if they care more about themselves or their careers than their constituents. But considering the party’s track record over the last few years, I expect nothing less.
P.S. While the Texas GOP does nothing, both AOC and Beto O’Rourke have stepped up to help. It doesn’t take a genius to see who is putting their money where their mouth is and who isn’t.
*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.
*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. When we meet Uwe & Claudia Rossler (Johannes Zeiler and Claudia Mayer) in World on Fire, their introduction comes by way of their neighbor, Nancy Campbell (Helen Hunt). They have two children, Klaus and Hilda. While Klaus is away fighting for his country, his parents deal with an internal battle at home. Hilda is living with a medical condition, that if known to the authorities, would put her life in danger. They decide to hide their daughter’s illness and ignore what they are hearing about children being killed for having physical and mental special needs.
Uwe is a business owner who is under constant pressure to fall in line with the regime. Acting against his own conscious and the need to protect his daughter, he reluctantly joins the Nazi party. Then life forces Uwe and Claudia to deal with a fork in the road. Somehow, it gets out that their daughter is sick. Claudia makes the devastation decision to kill herself and Hilda, leaving a heartbroken husband behind. When Uwe kills one of his employees who is an avid supporter of the government, he turns to Nancy to hide the body.
To sum it up: Change only comes when we feel uncomfortable. Comfort creates complacency, for better or for worse. Uwe and Claudia are initially comfortable, safe in the knowledge that as heterosexual Christians, they will be left to live in peace. It is only when they are uncomfortable that they make certain decisions that will forever change the course of their lives.
Which is why they are memorable characters.
This will be my last Character review post for World on Fire. The next group of characters I will be writing about are…come back next week and find out.
This hobby blog is dedicated to movie nerdom, nostalgia, and the occasional escape. In the late 90s, I worked at Blockbuster Video where they let me take home two free movies a day. I caught up on the classics and wrote movie reviews for Denver 'burbs newspapers and magazines. Today, I continue to revisit the old and discover the new on the screen. Comments and dialogue are highly encouraged. This year, I'm excited to collaborate with other writers via SLICETHELIFE, in which we will share our movie genre favorites in our 2021 Movie Draft!