Category Archives: TV Review

Throwback Thursday-The Ernest Green Story (1993)

To be the first in anything is to become a hero. It is also a difficult journey that tests the strongest among us. Ernest Green is a part of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African-American students who were chosen to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is also the first African-American student to graduate from  the school in 1958.

In 1993, his story was told in The Ernest Green Story.  Morris Chestnut played the title role in the television movie.

I feel like this is one of those movies we should all see, regardless of race or ethnicity. America in 2018 is not the same America of the late 1950’s. But we are also, not so far away from the period. If nothing else, this film is not only a reminder of how far we have come, it is also a reminder that the battle for civil rights and true equality still needs to be fought.

I recommend it.

 

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Throwback Thursday-One Day At A Time (1975-1984)

In the 1970’s, the world was changing. Women were starting to throw off the chains that kept their foremothers in literal slavery and were blazing new paths of their own making. Just as he did with his previous series, show runner Norman Lear looked to the changing culture to add to his list of hit shows.

In 1975, One Day At A Time premiered. On the air for nine years, the premise of the show centered around Anne Romano (Bonnie Franklin), a single divorced mother raising her teenage daughters by herself. Julie (Mackenzie Phillips) is the drama queen. Barbara (Valerie Bertinelli) is the tomboy. The man in their lives is Dwayne F. Schneider (Pat Harrington Jr.), their building’s super who becomes one of the family.

For it’s time, One Day At A Time was quite progressive. It was and still is very funny. It was also a show where the lead characters were mostly female and not dependent on the male characters to define who they were. Beloved by television audiences, it was one of the staples of the television schedule while it was on the air.

I recommend it.

 

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We’ll Meet Again Review

There are two types of people we meet in our lives. One type is a blip on the radar, we don’t think twice when they are gone. The other type is the person who influence in our life is so so ingrained in our psyches that we never forget them.

On Tuesday, PBS aired their new show: We’ll Meet Again. Hosted by veteran journalist and anchor, Ann Curry, the focus of the show is to reunite the subjects with someone whom they have not seen in a very long time.  The subjects of the pilot were two adults whose childhoods were overshadowed by World War II. In California, a young girl of Japanese-American descent is forced into the internment camps with her family simply because her parents immigrated from Japan a generation before. She wants to reunite with the school friend who only saw her friend and did not see color.

A young Jewish boy is living in Shanghai, with his parents. They are refugees from Nazi Germany. He becomes close with his father’s business partner and his business partner’s wife. They have a daughter and emigrate to Australia after the war. He wants to reunite with their daughter, who was a baby at the end of the war.

If nothing else, this show speaks to the our shared humanity. It is also a reminder that friendships and emotional connections can last a lifetime, even when our lives shift and we begin to move away from the people we were once close to.

I recommend it.

We’ll Meet Again airs Tuesday Nights at 8PM on PBS. 

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Throwback Thursday-That’s My Bush! (2001)

One of the hallmarks of a true democracy is the ability to openly satirize those in power without fear of persecution. From my perspective, political satire is the best way to relieve stress, especially when the stress comes from the halls of power.

In 2001, the creators of South Park decided to add another show to their satirical television empire: That’s My Bush!.  The show was a sitcom-y view (complete with a pre-recorded laugh track) of then President George W. Bush (Timothy Bottoms), his wife Laura Bush (Carrie Quinn Dolan), his Presidency and the staff who worked in the White House.

Though the show was on the air for only one season, it was incredibly funny. Unfortunately, it was one of those shows that was not given the time to gain an audience and last beyond the initial episodes that the network agreed to.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Victoria Series 2 Episode 1 Review

Queen Victoria has the rare distinction of being one of the few female rulers in human history. Last year, the television series Victoria (based on the book of the same name by Daisy Goodwin, who is also the series’ show runner ) hit our small screens.

Last night, the second series of Victoria premiered on PBS. The second series starts a month after the first series ended. Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) is a new mother and has been on resting since giving birth. Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) has stepped into his wife’s shoes while she recovers from bringing their daughter into the world. But Victoria is eager to get back to work and like many mothers, has to find the life/work balance that is sometimes akin to walking on a tightrope. While Victoria is trying to balance family life, her marriage and her job, Albert is trying to find his own identity outside of his marriage.

I really enjoyed last night’s episode. Not just because creator and writer Daisy Goodwin brings these real life people into our modern lives, but also because Victoria and Albert’s marriage seems so ordinary, despite their extraordinary status in society.  Like any married couple, they love each other, but they disagree quite fiercely. I also very much appreciated that Victoria’s dilemma is quite modern. She is working in a man’s world, but at the same time, she is a wife and a new mother. Any woman trying to maintain the same delicate balance will tell you that it is not easy.

I recommend it.

Victoria airs at 9PM on Sunday nights on PBS. 

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Flashback Friday-Hercules (Miniseries)- (2005)

The myth of Hercules is one for the ages. The son of Zeus, the king of the gods and Alcmene, a mortal woman, his legendary strength and journey has become a symbol for facing the challenges in our own lives.

In the 2005 miniseries, Hercules, Paul Telfer plays the title role. Accused of killing his sons, he must go on a journey and face a number of obstacles before his name and reputation can be cleared.

Based on the myth of the Labours Of Hercules, the miniseries takes the viewer on a journey as Hercules not only completes his labours, but also grows up along the way.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Flashback Friday- Malibu Shores (1996)

The cross class divide is a story as old as humanity itself. The question, then begs, when a writer uses this very basic story as the skeleton of their narrative, is there enough to flesh out the story or is the writer relying on stereotypes?

In the short lives series Malibu Shores (1996), Zack Morrison (Tony Lucca) from the wrong sides of the tracks meets rich girl Chloe Walker (Keri Russell), it seems like a match made in heaven. But only to them, that is. Everyone else around them thinks that this relationship is a bad idea. Then Zack’s school is destroyed in an earthquake and he, along with the rest of his classmates, are forced to transfer to Chloe’s high school. The forced mingling between the two groups does not go over well.

Producer Aaron Spelling tried to replicate the success of his mega hit Beverly Hills 90210 with Malibu Shores. 90210, this show is not. It lasted only one season and was cancelled due to poor ratings.  While I give the creative team an A for effort, this show, unfortunately, was not very good.

Do I recommend it? No.

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Throwback Thursday-A Call To Remember (Television Movie)-1997

Life is complicated, that is a fact.

In the 1997 television movie, A Call To Remember, Paula and David Tobias (Blythe Danner and Joe Mantegna) are middle-aged Holocaust survivors just living their lives and going about their business.  But while they are still trying to keep back with the demons of their past, they are also dealing with the reality that their eldest son Jake (David Lascher) may go off to fight in Vietnam.

After the war, many Holocaust survivors returned to normal lives. Marriage, kids, jobs, etc. But the trauma, both physical and emotional that they experienced never left them. What I really appreciate about this movie is not only the normal relationships between the main characters, but also how resilient they are in spite of everything that they experienced.

I recommend it.

 

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Throwback Thursday- Lucy (Television Movie)-2003

I Love Lucy is one of those television shows. We have all seen (and laughed hysterically) at least one episode. But the image of the happy television marriage of the Ricardo’s was not the exact truth of the lives of the then IRL married actors who played them, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

The 2003 television movie, Lucy, stars Rachel York as Lucille Ball and Danny Pino as Desi Arnaz. Taking the audience behind the camera to the real lives of actors who would become television icons, the movie tells the story of their stormy marriage and the television show they would create to keep their marriage and their family from falling apart.

As biopics go, this one is not bad. While some biopics try to gloss over the negative traits of their subjects, this one doesn’t. What I like about this movie and the characterization of Lucy and Desi, is that it is simply the story of a couple trying to make their marriage work. Regardless of our marital states, we can all relate to trying to make our relationships work, whether it is with a significant other, a parent, a friend, etc.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

 

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Throwback Thursday-Wit (Television Movie)-2001

Cancer has a unique way of forcing us to re-asses our lives.

In 2001, the Margaret Edson play Wit, was adapted for television. Starring Emma Thompson as Dr. Vivian Bearing, an English professor diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer and Audra McDonald, one of Dr. Bearing’s nurses, the play is a unique and eye-opening take on how life changes when we battle cancer.

Sometimes, when the focus of a narrative is a character battling cancer, sometimes the writer(s) had a tendency to go overboard on the sadness or the what if thoughts that the character or their loved ones might be entertaining. But the writers found a way to balance the reality of battling cancer with humor and a sarcastic bite that helps to lighten the mood and help the audience release some of the emotional tension coming from the story.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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