‘Brother’s Keeper’ sets up exciting conflicts for the rest of this outstanding season.
“But in the end, you know, you are who you are.” – Carol Johnson
Let us now sing the praises of Margo Martindale. As matriarch of the Bennett clan, the weed queen of Harlan County, and all-around badass, her presence has dominated this season of “Justified”. Mags Bennett is interested in maintaining only the thinnest veneer of a down-home folksy exterior; most everyone, particularly her sons, know and (justifiably) fear the actual terrifying woman in their midst. Tonight, her nefarious plans were finally laid bare, and she teamed up with the slippery Boyd to achieve them. Martindale commands the screen at all times, whether she is tenderly brushing the hair of the child whose father she recently poisoned or coldly threatening Carol Johnson in order to get her big payday from Black Pike Coal (“Now, sit your bony ass down and listen to my counteroffer, while there’s still pieces of you big enough to find.”).
Yes, Mags certainly had her day of triumph, before the agonizing double whammy of losing her youngest son and her foster daughter. The scene in Coover and Dickie’s trashy trailer was a suspenseful and gripping set piece and moving as well, as Loretta sobbed out that she always knew deep inside that they killed her daddy. It was another instance of excellent build-up of character; the kind of slow-burn plot building that feels satisfying on many different levels. Of course, it’s a relief that Raylan saved the day, but I am going to miss Brad William Henke’s sly baby Bennett, his mother’s damaged creation.
Even though Raylan had another “justified” shooting, rescuing Loretta and revealing the body of her father in the mine shaft, this seems certain to escalate the inevitable showdown between himself and the Bennetts, and perhaps put him in even more hot water with Art. And who knows what Boyd’s real angle is in all of this? The last time we saw him talking to Arlo and Helen, they were most definitely opposed to selling, and we haven’t seen them change their minds. Does he really have the lease to their land? Does he want to take over the drug trade in Harlan (besides pot apparently, as strictly instructed)? Does he have something else up his sleeve and will he end up on the side of the good guys once again? He certainly seems very jolly, clogging up a storm with ever-more affectionate Ava on the dance floor. Stay tuned.
- Raylan resisted the not inconsiderable charms of Carol for a second time. However, I imagine Winona better turn up soon; he’s only human after all.
- All of the local color at Mags’ “whoop-dee-doo” was enjoyable, including the story of Raylan’s dancing cousin Heinz (“claimed to know 57 dance steps that no one else had ever done before”).
- If Mags Bennett is calling you “sugar”, “honey”, or another such endearment, please know you are about to get righteously screwed over about something.
Alec Baldwin claims the NBC hit will end when his contract expires in 2012
‘War’ brings the F/X series to a satisfying conclusion.
For a few moments, during the very first scene, it was easy to glimpse the great strengths and the missed opportunities in the only season of “Lights Out”. Patrick Leary is sleeping safely at home, surrounded by his loving family, ready to take on his rematch with Death Row Reynolds. But he is still tormented by nightmares of all the things he has done on his journey to this moment – from the street fight outside the restaurant to breaking his mother’s boyfriend’s hand – and the conflicts with his wife and daughter. As if sensing her father’s psychological turmoil, little Katie wakes from her own eerily prescient nightmare, wailing, “He hurt you! He wouldn’t stop; Mommy was crying.” Powerful stuff.
Unfortunately, all the detours with guest stars and subplots and visiting boozehound mothers lessened the impact of what could have been the heart of the series – the brutal and ugly world of boxing, and its slow, execrable, relentless toll on the physical and emotional well-being of the people in its orbit. Granted, that is a pretty depressing theme for a series, but all of the elements were there in the script and the cast, particularly the deep and expressive central performance by Holt McCallany. In the final episode, there were enough intriguing threads left to shape a strong second season. Alas, it was not to be.
But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a wealth of great moments in “War”, up to and including a rousing fight climax with the ostensibly happy ending of Lights regaining his heavyweight championship belt. It was confirmed that Morales did indeed throw the earlier fight and that, although Brennan may have set something shady up with Barry Word earlier, he was clearly after his own piece of the action by forming the “Justice League” of active and retired boxers (go here for a great summation of that back story from showrunner Warren Leight). There was a blatantly crooked referee, a sweet moment of pre-fight making out for Patrick and Theresa, and a touching scene in the confessional where Patrick accepted responsibility for all of his crimes and misdeeds, and sought God’s forgiveness. And then, after it is all over and just as all seems triumphant, Lights turns to Theresa in the hallway and asks, “Who won?”
What a bone-chilling but utterly believable moment. Because no matter who wins or loses, this is what happens to men who make their living enduring physical violence, who enter an 18-foot ring and submit to harsh and sometimes savage punishment for the entertainment of others. Good for “Lights Out” and F/X for telling the story of one flawed but decent man living in this world, even if it was only for one season. It was worth it.
'General Hospital' mystery, laughter and suspense hit the page
By Deanna Barnert
Special to MSN TV
While Spinelli and Diane were collaborating on their great manuscript on "General Hospital", Carolyn Hennesy (Diane) was busy penning a little ditty for those of us stuck in the real world, "The Secret Life of Damian Spinelli”. The new novel promises fresh tales about Port Charles faves from the Emmy-nominated actress who puts the cougar "Cougar Town". Hennesy is also the scribe behind the tween book series "Pandora", but she gives costar Bradford Anderson (Spinelli) credit for inspiring the mystery, laughter and suspense of “The Secret Life of Damian Spinelli”. Hennessy and Anderson dish on what to expect from this upbeat yet noir tale from Port Charles, which hits stores in hardcover and eBook formats April 5, 2011.
Giveaway: Email us with your favorite GH moment and enter to win a signed copy of the book!
MSN TV: April 1, 2011 was the show's 48th anniversary, so happy birthday!
Carolyn Hennesy: Thank you. It's not an April Fools' joke. We are 48.
Bradford Anderson: Funny, we don't feel a day over 21.
Carolyn Hennesy: Nor do we look it.
How's life in Port Charles treating you?
Carolyn Hennesy: We're groovy! There's some serious drama on the show these days. We just lost a little one, so everyone's affected. You don't want to be a child in Port Charles. You want to be born and somehow, you show up and you're 21.
Bradford Anderson: SORAS: Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome. Gotta go through that as soon as you're born.
What can we expect from the "The Secret Life of Damian Spinelli"?
Carolyn Hennesy: Thrills, chills, suspense and a whole lot of laughter.
So it's lighter than what we're watching on "General Hospital" these days?
Carolyn Hennesy: The sinking of the Titanic is lighter than what's going on in the air show, but yes, it's much lighter. There are moments of tenderness and poignancy. There's one or two tears shed along the way, but 95 percent of the book is a laugh riot rollercoaster.
Bradford Anderson: We should have released this book a couple weeks ago, so you could watch the sad air show, then read a chapter of the book and have a little levity, and then go back to the air show. It would have been a good reprieve.
Is "The Secret Life of Damian Spinelli" a nod to old school noir, like the teases we've seen on the show?
Carolyn Hennesy: It's not just a nod: it's a whole interpretive dance. When I was approached to write the book from Damian Spinelli's point of view, I was able to incorporate my intense love of film noir and noir fiction. Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Orson Wells -- you name it! That combines so well with Spinellis' alter ego, which is right out of "The Third Man" and "Key Largo". That was just a fortuitous blessing.
Were you given carte blanche to attack the book however you wanted?
Carolyn Hennesy: Yes. If they had something in mind, I didn't know about it. I came up with a concept, wrote up a few sample chapters and pitched it. Nobody said no, so I had a tremendous amount of freedom. Of course, the first person to read it once it was done was Bob Guza [head writer], who gave it his stamp of approval.
Were you nervous about giving your baby to that first reader?
Carolyn Hennesy: I felt I had done a good service to the characters. I was reverential, while at the same time being a little expansive, adventurous and fantastical with the characters. I was fairly confident and Bob's reaction just validated that. Of course he had some notes, but they were easy to incorporate and I had such fun writing the book, so I was beyond thrilled.
Spinelli is the narrator, but who is the hero of this novel?
Carolyn Hennesy: Need you ask?
Bradford Anderson: Of course he's the hero! Spinelli's the one who comes to Diane with the story and within each of the individual stories, he's the hero every time. (laughs)
Carolyn Hennesy: Which is as it should be! But we also discover even more heroic attributes of some of the favorite characters on the show, like Patrick Drake and Edward Quartermaine. Dante's life is put in peril and we also discover some wonderful things about Luke Spencer.
Bradford Anderson: Each individual character gets to shine, and that's what's going to be so fun for viewers of the show. They'll see their favorite characters in situations they might not see them in every day and see their mettle put to the test and come through victorious.
How much does the book coincide with "General Hospital" story?
Carolyn Hennesy: These are side stories. Diane is very skeptical as to whether or not they actually happened. In fact, throughout the course of the book, she simply doesn't believe, but at the end, she has a different opinion.
Carolyn, are you upset you have to share writing credit with Diane and Spinelli?
Carolyn Hennesy: I don't! (laughs) Yes, I wrote the book, but believe me, Bradford is the best inspiration anyone could have. All the credit does go to Bradford, because without Spinelli, there would not be this book.
With the book landing April 6, will we get to see more of you two on the show – especially Spinelli!
Bradford Anderson: That's an interesting question. There's tons of fodder in the book for story, if they think that fits into what they want to do with the show.
Carolyn Hennesy: If they decided to film even snippets of these stories, they have material for years.
Bradford Anderson: And ways to go forward with them, too... But thankfully, we're both still employed by "General Hospital and will be for a time to come!
With 'Law & Order: Los Angeles' set to relaunch, Wolf Films offers amazing sweepstakes
"Law & Order: Los Angeles" is set to return to NBC on Monday, April 11, at 9 p.m. ET/PT with a special two-hour premiere. This premiere marks a landmark in the the "Law & Order" franchise, in what is being touted as, "A single shot triggers a television event not seen in 20 years!"
Along with this re-boot, casting changes are afoot as Alfred Molina's character is set to move back into a Detective role and "Law & Order" veteran Alana de la Garza returns to the franchise in the same DDA role, in "Los Angeles."
To get you ready for this TV event, Wolf Films has an amazing sweepstakes running over the next week where you can enter to win a "Law & Order: Los Angeles" script that has been signed by the entire cast, in addition to a bunch of other "Law & Order" goodies.
'Pilot', 'The Cage': The first 48 hours of a fascinating new series from AMC
Oh, the perils of blogging about a show episode by episode. AMC’s superb and exciting new long-form police procedural “The Killing” stretches out one Pacific Northwest murder investigation over thirteen episodes set on thirteen different days, so each hour will be presenting a variety of clues, suspects, red herrings and ominous fake-outs on the way to finding Rosie Larsen’s killer. Although it is fun to follow along, it also makes any week-to-week speculation seem premature at best, wildly wrong-headed at worst. Luckily, there is plenty to generally discuss about the various elements of the characters and world of the show, and save the crime-solving theories for the bullet points.
The cops: As the reluctant lead investigator Sarah Linden, Mireille Enos is the stoic, still center of an increasingly lurid and grisly crime. She obviously possesses an almost preternatural ability to suss out important details on a crime scene (noting that the bloody sweater found in the park had been dry cleaned, ruling out any local crack-heads) and her cool professional attitude is contrasted sharply with her new partner/replacement Stephen Holder (played by Dutch actor Joel Kinnaman). Sarah has instant tact and empathy with the people they are interviewing, while Stephen’s history as an undercover narcotics officer causes him to hostilely grill everyone that crosses his path like a potential suspect. However, this background serves him well in the second episode, after he plays the seductive creep with two of Rosie’s classmates and gets to the actual scene of the crime in the dank basement of the high school. Sarah and Stephen’s relationship is sure to be rocky but so far, their contrasting styles are being played for intriguing drama rather than easy clichés.
The politicians: Since the body was found in a stolen car that was part of the campaign of mayoral candidate Darren Richmond (the agelessly handsome Billy Campbell), he and his staff are inexorably drawn into the investigation. Of course, they have secrets of their own, including a romantic relationship between Richmond and his campaign manager Gwen Eaton (Kristin Lehman). Currently, there seems to be zero connection between Rosie and the mayor’s race, but time will tell. Although, the governmental machinations are interesting, they pale a bit in comparison to the primal drama of the murder, and Richmond’s search for the source of a dangerous leak inside his inner circle seems more distracting than intriguing.
The victim’s family and friends: Here, the series is on much stronger ground. The fear, shock and grief resulting from a child’s death are universal emotions, and the powerful performances by Brent Sexton and Michelle Forbes as Stan and Mitch Larsen simply rip your heart out. Sitting on a windswept beach, telling their two young sons that their older sister was “in heaven” was an incredibly moving scene. Orbiting around the family unit are worried best friend Sterling (Kacey Rohl) and despicable rich kid boyfriend Jasper (Richard Harmon), who should probably be thrown in jail just for the crime of being an annoying grade-A jackass. Get on that, Holder.
- “The Killing” looks so much like British crime mini-series like “Wire in the Blood” and “Luther” that I keep expecting Helen Mirren to pop up as Deputy Chief Inspector Jane Tennison.
- The running plot of Sarah Linden’s imminent departure for her new home in Somona threatens to become an unintentionally amusing running gag. It gets a bit more ridiculous every time she explains to her fiancé that she skipped another flight to keep working on the case. Here’s hoping they put that detail to bed soon.
- OK, I get that Holder is trying to get information out of the two flirty soccer players, but is he allowed to actually give weed to teenagers? Will that decision come back to bite him later?
- The great state of Washington, home to so many of our favorite psychopaths.
- Suspect line-up: Richmond (seems squeaky-clean, probably related to the crime in some other way); Jasper (much too obvious, but most certainly lying about his involvement in the Halloween “after-party”); someone that works for Stan; idealistic young African-American school teacher with the Dreadlocks of Sensitivity; Betty Draper’s whiny little brother
"The Killing" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.
‘Fight Club’ meets ‘Ransom’ in the side-splitting ‘El Secuestro’
It’s turning out to be the season of character back-stories: Lana and her environmental terrorist lover, Woodhouse and his WWI fighter pilot lover, Cyril and his…father. So, this week we found out a little bit about Cheryl (which I guess they have decided is her name now). As well as being absolutely, no-holds-barred, awesomely insane, she is also the recently orphaned heiress to the Tunt railroad fortune. This fun information comes out after a group of brutal kidnappers mistake Pam for their intended target, and the ISIS gang has to head out to rescue their beloved HR rep from certain death. Except Pam is apparently the female equivalent of Tyler Durden and can more than hold her own with the abductors.
Everyone in the ensemble got a chance to shine, from the smallest throwaway lines (Sterling giggling “He got shot again!” as human target Ben lies bleeding out on the office floor) to ridiculous out-of-character moments (Sterling’s giddy off-camera excitement about Cheryl’s ocelot) to extended comic set-pieces (Cyril’s counter-kidnapping of Cheryl in order to get back the $3,700 she owes him and his subsequent humiliating phone-sex lies). And equal praise for the sound editing; several times, Malory was asked point-blank about saving Pam’s life, and her pauses before answering got longer and longer with increasingly hilarious results. In the end, we were spared the image of Pam “whupping $5,000 worth of her ass”. But would we really want to see that? As Lana would say, nope.
- “Mopeds are fun, but you don’t want your buddies to see you riding one.”
- “I only had ten beers.” “Fortys?” “No! Yes.”
- “She said she had to walk to work because there was a midget on the train.”
- “Yes, just keep shouting your own name!”
- “Thanks Pam! Way to drag out a kidnapping. Now I’m late again.”
- “Like a huge, sweatery, Lindbergh baby.”
- “The train dwarf was real and he looked at me with his dwarfy eyeballs!”
- “That’s the Roosevelt mansion!” “Total shitbox. They’re weird.”
- “Not you, Mr. Bloodmobile.”
- “Guess how many pygmies died cutting it down. Hint: six.”
- “Unless you include the funeral expenses for those pygmies. And I bet that sneaky little chief just dumped them all into one medium-sized hole.”
- “There’s half a billion dollars worth of Tunt sitting in that vault!”
- “Hope you kidnap the shit out of her.”
- “We look totally gay!” “I am gay.” “Well, I’m not!” “Then why are you wearing that turtleneck?”
- “Unless you want to chop off my fingertips and slice out my retinas. Aw, don’t be dicks.”
- “3,700 dollars.” “Wait a minute, how much?” “A million dollars. 50 million dollars.”
- “Does internet porn know you’re cheating on it?”
- “They’re not going to shoot you, Pam; their programming won’t allow it.” “What?” “Don’t ask.”
New romantic comedies not faring well on TV
By Mekeisha Madden Toby
Special to MSN TV
Anxiety is expected when a new show launches.
Producers, writers and cast members worry how critics will respond and if viewers will tune in.
But the concern seemed to double for the stars of “Happy Endings” Thursday evening in Culver City, Calif., when nearly all of the reporters who were supposed to attend the night’s junket at the Sony lot canceled at the last minute.
At one point, some publicists were emailing those who didn’t cancel and pleading with them to not back out. Others were asking members of the media if there was another event people had decided to attend.
One theory was that the weather was so nice – Los Angeles experienced record high temps reaching 92 degrees downtown and in the valley communities – many reporters decided to head to the beach instead.
Of course, that’s not what David Caspe, the creator and one of the show’s executive producers, theorized.
When he wasn’t bemoaning the taste of the mac ‘n’ cheese bites – cast members Adam Pally and Zachary Knighton quite enjoyed the crispy snacks – he was reading one of the sitcom’s early reviews on his iPhone.
And as you might’ve guessed, the review, from The Salt Lake Tribune’s Scott D. Pierce, wasn’t flattering.
“Pally pissed him off,” Caspe could be heard muttering. “That’s why he hates us. Thanks a lot Pally.”
Pally, whose comedic pedigree includes the celebrated New York improv group the Upright Citizens Brigade, is a bit of a ham.
He plays Max on “Happy Endings” the group’s “chubby’ and gay friend.
“Max is like the gay Joey, but he’s funny,” says Pally, comparing “Happy Endings” to that other once really successful show about a group of chums.
The comparison between the two shows isn’t that far off.
Like “Friends,” the ABC sitcom starts with a breakup. Instead of Rachel leaving her fiancé at the altar, we see Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) leave Dave (Knighton, best known for his role on “FlashForward”) on their wedding day.
After a lot of crying on Dave’s part, some outrageous high jinks and a lot hand wringing from their friends, Dave and Alex figure out a way to move on so everyone can stay friends.
"Seinfeld” it’s not but “Happy Endings” does have a lot of genuinely funny moments. A reference to “Point Break” and Lori Petty is one of the funniest.
Unfortunately, romantic comedies aren’t faring too well on TV these days and almost all of the ones that have rolled out recently – Fox’s “Traffic Light,” CBS’ “Mad Love” and “Perfect Couples” on NBC – will in all likelihood be canceled due to low ratings.
Then you have “Happy Endings.”
When it debuts 9:30 p.m. April 14, it will serve as little more than a place holder for “Cougar Town.”
But with a little luck and a real following, it could be so much more.
Cuthbert, who will always be known as Kim from “24,” says she was intimidated because all of her costars are funny and have comedic backgrounds. Rounding out the cast is Damon Wayans Jr., (“The Other Guys”), Casey Wilson (“Saturday Night Live”) and Eliza Coupe (“Scrubs”).
But Cuthbert holds her own. Like Courteney Cox did when “Friends” began, she has the most recognizable name but she also wants to prove she can be funny too. And she does.
For the sake of her and the others, hopefully the party was just a fluke and viewers will come around even if most critics don’t.
"Happy Endings" premieres Thursday, April 14, at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.