When life gives us lemons, we try to make lemonade. When we are single after years of being in a relationship, what looks like a dark path of unknowns may actually be an opportunity to grow in new and exciting ways.
After 8 years of playing Grace Adler on Will and Grace, Debra Messing completely stepped away the world of Will and Grace to play a new character: the eponymous title character in the 2007 miniseries, The Starter Wife. Molly Kagan (Messing) has been married to Hollywood mogul Kenny Kagan (Peter Jacobson) for a number of years. All is well in her world until Kenny divorces her. Molly has to face her new reality as a single woman with the help of her friends, Joan McAllister (Judy Davis), Cricket Stewart (Miranda Otto) and Rodney (Chris Diamantopoulos).
I remember enjoying this mini-series. It had humor, it had heart and it also spoke to the idea that new normals happen all the time. It’s just a matter of rolling with the punches and putting one foot in front of the other.
I recommend it.
For twenty years, Law And Order was a staple of the television schedule. With that success, the creative team decided to try a spin-off. That spin-off is Law And Order SVU (1999-Present).
While the original SVU was focused on a variety of crimes, this spin-off focuses solely on sexually related crimes. The current cast includes Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T, Kelli Giddish, Raul Esparza and Peter Scanavino.
I have been a fan of this show since the beginning. Like it’s predecessor, the show deals in the grey areas of life and fighting crime, especially when it comes to the cases that the characters deal with. I also very much appreciate the strong women on show, Lt. Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Detective Rollins (Kelli Giddish).
I absolutely recommend it.
The cop/courtroom drama has been around since the beginning of television. The question is, will the television program be the same dry procedural show that audiences have become so used to, or will there be a twist that keeps the audience engaged until the credits roll?
Law And Order was on the air for twenty years, between 1990 and 2010. Covering a multitude of crimes in New York City, the focus of the show was split evenly between the police who are investigating the crime and the prosecutors whose job it is to argue that the accused should be found guilty. Over the show’s 20 year history, the roster of actors who played the detectives and the prosecutors included the late Jerry Orbach, Sam Waterston, Jesse L. Martin and Elizabeth Rohm.
Law and Order is one of those television shows that everyone has watched at least once. It has multiple spin offs, an impressive list of guest stars and always leaves the audience to answer an ambitious, grey zone question that makes us think.
I recommend it.
There is nothing so wonderful (at least from my perspective) as settling down on a Sunday night and knowing that the programming on Masterpiece Theater/Mysteries will help with the realization that the weekend is over.
On Sunday night, not only did the first episode of the third season of Grantchester air, but also a new show premiered, My Mother And Other Strangers.
Grantchester picks up just a few months after series 2 ended. The bromance/murder solving duo of Vicar Sydney Chambers (James Norton) and Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green) are back together again. But while Sydney and Geordie deal with the crimes that are happening in and around Grantchester, Sydney has another thing on his plate: his relationship with Amanda Hopkins (Morven Christie). Amanda is heavily pregnant and in the midst of divorcing her husband. While they are happily ensconced in finally being together, the storm of Amanda’s soon to be ended marriage and impending motherhood creates more than one barrier to their own version of happily ever after.
My Mother And Other Strangers takes place in Northern Ireland during World War II. Rose and Michael Coyne (Hattie Morahan and Owen McDonnell) have a full life of kids, work and just being busy. The war has yet to intrude into their world. It comes in the form of American servicemen, Captain Dreyfuss (Aaron Staton) and Lieutenant Barnhill (Corey Cott). Captain Dreyfuss seems to be paying more attention to Rose than her husband while Lieutenant Barnhill is interested in 16-year-old Emma Coyne (Eileen O’Higgins). The story is narrated by an adult Francis (Rose and Michael’s son). Ciaran Hinds tells the story in voice over flashback as an adult while 10-year-old Francis is played by Michael Nevin.
I’ve enjoyed Grantchester since the first season. Cop procedural shows tend to get a little boring when the only thing that the audience sees is inside the squad room or investigating the scene of a crime. Grantchester adds to this bland story by making the characters human and allowing the audience to see the lives and struggles of the characters outside of work. I was attracted to My Mother And Other Strangers because of the cast and how compelling the series seemed based off the trailer. The problem is that it is a little boring and it has yet to completely hook me in.
Do I recommend them? I say yes to Grantchester and maybe to My Mother And Other Strangers.
We all know the end of Romeo and Juliet. The star-crossed lovers commit suicide and their families are held responsible for the bloodshed, the destruction and the loss of life.
In the new television series, Still Star Crossed, the violence, bloodshed and murder has continued in the wake of the double suicide of Romeo and Juliet. To restore peace, Prince Escalus (Sterling Sulieman) proposes a most unlikely and unwelcome solution: Rosalind Capulet (Lashana Lynch) marry Benvolio Montague (Wade Briggs). Neither are pleased with the match, especially Escalus, who has been in love Rosalind (and she with him) for years. But it must done, for the good of the city. The question is not only will the marriage take place, but can it heal the open and bloody wounds between the Capulets and the Montagues?
I am not a huge Shonda Rhimes fan, but I am a fan of Shakespeare and I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the pilot. It has everyone one expects from a Shakespeare play (or at least a decent adaptation of a Shakespeare play): violence, danger, romance, greed etc. I also very much appreciate the diversity of the cast. To see a rainbow of skin colors and ethnic backgrounds just adds another layer of authenticity and realism that already exists in not just Romeo and Juliet, but in all of Shakespeare’s plays.
I recommend it.
Still Star Crossed airs on ABC at 10 PM on Monday.
*Warning-This review contains minor spoilers. Read at your own risk if you have not seen it.
Dirty Dancing is one of those movies. It became an instant classic when it hit theaters in 1987. Everything about that movie is iconic. The music, the story, the characters, etc, are instantly recognizable.
It’s therefore no wonder that ABC rebooted the movie last night into a television movie musical with Abigail Breslin and Colt Prattes stepping into the very large shoes of Jennifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze.
It’s still the summer of 1963. Frances “Baby” Houseman is on vacation with her doctor father, Jake (Bruce Greenwood), homemaker mother, Marjorie (Debra Messing) and elder sister Lisa (Sarah Hyland) at a resort in the Catskills. About to go to college and enter the real world, Baby is full of hopes and dreams, but also sheltered from the world by her parents.
She becomes infatuated with Johnny Castle, one of the resort’s dance teachers and steps up to become his dance partner when his regular dance partner, Penny (Nicole Scherzinger) gets pregnant and goes to a less than reputable doctor to have an abortion. While their relationship starts off as merely dance partners, they soon become more than dance partners, but their differences may tear them apart.
I very much appreciated that certain narratives and characters were expanded from the original movie. In the original movie, Lisa is a stereotype and Mrs. Houseman is a background player. In this version, Lisa is a deeper character (i.e. she is convinced by Baby to read The Feminine Mystique and see her herself as more than a girl who just wants to get married). Like many women of her generation, Mrs. Houseman was told that they should get married and have families. While they have done this, there is an aching need for something more. I also appreciated that Abigail Breslin is not a size 2.
For the most part, the creative team stuck to the story and characters that the audience anticipated. But there was something missing, something that the movie has that the television version does not.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
Our strongest sense is sometimes not our sense of smell or taste, but our gut. When we have nothing else to guide us, our gut will.
In the 2000 television movie, The Courage To Love, Henriette Delille (Vanessa Williams) is a biracial woman living in 19th century New Orleans. While her parents are in love, they cannot marry due to the fact that her father is white and her mother is black. Dr. Gerard Gaultier (Gil Bellows), a Caucasian doctor from France proposes to Henriette and take her back to France, where there would be no opposition to their marriage. But Henriette is devoted to the Church and must choose between saying I do and joining the Church.
As interesting as this television movie is, it is a little heavy-handed. It comes out more preachy than entertaining while teaching.
Do I recommend it? I have to lean toward no.
Mary Ann Cotton has the notoriety of England’s first female serial killer. She is known to have killed at least two of her husbands, several of her children and a number of others. To this day, the exact number of the people she killed is a mystery.
The television movie Dark Angel told the story of Mary Ann as she begins to slide down the ladder toward murder and depravity. Airing last night on PBS, it starred Downton Abbey’s Joanne Froggatt as the main character. The audience meets Mary Ann when she is an ordinary wife and mother. Life has not been easy for her, but she has found a way to survive the hardships that have been thrown at her. But as she begins to lose her loved ones, something breaks in her, sending down a path that once tread upon, cannot be un-tread upon.
After watching Ms. Froggatt play Anna Bates for six seasons on Downton Abbey, it was refreshing to see her step into an entirely different role. Mary Ann is very much the underdog, both as a woman and a member of the lower class in Victorian era England. While on one hand, the audience can feel disgusted and horrified by her actions, in a certain light, we can almost sympathize with her. She lived in era when women, especially women from the lower classes were denied the right to an education and a career. Mary Ann did what she thought was right to survive, if a modern audience may not agree with her actions.
While my only criticism is that it went a little fast for me narrative wise (even for a 2 hour television movie), it was still enjoyable.
I recommend it.
Fairy tales often have what if quality to them.
The play, King Charles III, adds to the what if quality of the fairy tale. It is set in an alternative world where Queen Elizabeth II has died and Prince Charles has ascended to the throne. But his time as King is shaky and those closest to him begin to question if Charles can wear the crown.
Last night, PBS aired a television adaptation of the play. Several actors from the play returning to their stage roles; the late Tim Pigott-Smith (Charles), Margot Leicester (Camilla), Oliver Chris (William) and Richard Goulding (Harry). Stepping the roles for the first time were Charlotte Riley (Kate) and Jess (Tamara Lawrance).
While I did not see the play I found the television adaptation interesting. It was interesting because what’s behind closed doors is often more fascinating than the face that we put out for the world to see. Bringing the audience into a world that few of us will ever see added to the heightened drama and the suspense of what questioning if Charles could be successful as King Of England was the hook I needed.
I recommend it.
History can be an interesting subject for a fictional television drama. But for it to be done right, the characters must appeal to a modern audience and the narrative has to be more than dry facts coming out of a boring college history textbook.
Between 2012 and 2013, the BBC original drama Copper aired on Sunday nights. Detective Kevin Corcoran (Tom-Weston Jones) is an Irish immigrants who walks the streets of The Five Points in New York City during The Civil War. While working the beat of the dangerous Five Points, Detective Corcoran, known as Corky, does not limit himself to his neighborhood. His travels around the city include trips to the uptown residences of wealthy playboy Robert Morehouse (Kyle Schmid), society wife Elizabeth Haverford (Anastasia Griffith) and to the home of African-American Doctor Matthew Freeman (Ato Essandoh).
I was a fan of this show. I enjoyed the subtle history lesson with the compelling narrative and 3D characters. The problem is that BBC America did not feel the same and cancelled the show after the 2nd season.
Do I recommend it? Yes.