Sarah Lancashire in Rose and Maloney

I became a dedicated Sarah Lancashire devotee as I watched Last Tango in Halifax. Being an American who rarely gets to see British TV unless it’s broadcast on PBS, I had never heard of her before.

It’s surprisingly difficult to learn anything about British actors in America. Europeans don’t have much interest in filling out information for IMDB.com and places like Wikipedia are sketchy at best. When I saw that Sarah Lancashire was in a series called Rose and Maloney, I looked for it on Netflix and Amazon Prime but couldn’t find it. A couple of days ago, I discovered that YouTube runs full episodes of the series via All3Media and other kind souls who’ve shared.

Sarah Lancashire as Rose Linden in season 1
Sarah Lancashire as Rose Linden in season 1

The series, which premiered in 2002, is uneven: storylines get mysteriously dropped, the characters change in inexplicable ways. It feels like they tried the first two episodes (which amount to season 1), got some positive response, and did a bit of a makeover in season 2 and 3 to try to keep things going. Rose in particular gets a bit of a redo – new hair, a different look with jeans and checkered shirts rolled up to the elbows, and slightly less drunkenness and fewer diabetic meltdowns.

Sarah Lancashine and Phil Davis and Rose and Maloney
Sarah Lancashine and Phil Davis and Rose and Maloney

Sarah Lancashire is devastatingly real as Rose in every episode.Rose and Maloney (Phil Davis plays Maloney) work for a fictional agency called CJRA, which reviews cases to make sure that justice was served. Sarah Lancashire as Rose Linden is a hard-drinking, smoking, cursing, rule-breaking investigator with relentless doggedness when it comes to finding truth and justice. She’s diabetic, messy, brilliant, and unafraid. Even though the series itself is inconsistent, Sarah Lancashire is devastatingly real as Rose in every episode.

Phil Davis is the perfect suit-and-tie establishment foil to her excess.Maloney’s a straight and narrow kind of guy who can’t believe some of the stunts Rose pulls, but who admires her skills in finding the truth about the cases they review. Phil Davis is the perfect suit-and-tie establishment foil to her excess.

Here’s the complete first episode. If you like the characters here, you’ll enjoy the remainder of the series.

Rose changes a lot in season 2 and 3. Her appearance changes, the boyfriend in prison somehow vanishes from her mind. Her boss changes from a man she shags on his desk late at night to a woman she drives crazy with her rebelliousness. The woman playing her mother changes. Nevertheless, Rose still is the same basic person with her snarky attitude and her determination to find the truth about her cases.

There are some delightful guest stars, Anthony Stewart Head and Eamonn Walker being two examples.

I’m never exactly sure what on-screen chemistry is other than good acting, but whatever it is, these two have it.Anne Reid joins the cast as Rose’s mother in a couple of episodes. Seeing Anne Reid and Sarah Lancashire as mother and daughter in Rose and Maloney makes it obvious why they were cast together again in Last Tango in Halifax. Their chemistry, honed to razor sharpness in Last Tango in Halifax, is perfectly complementary. I’m never exactly sure what on-screen chemistry is other than good acting, but whatever it is, these two have it. Maybe they vibrate at the same frequency.

Here are links to the other episodes of Rose and Maloney on YouTube. I don’t know if this is every episode, but it’s every episode on YouTube. Have a binge watching party with Sarah Lancashire!

Trailer for Philomena

Philomena is a tale about an Irish woman searching for the son she was forced to give up. It stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan and will open in late November in theaters.

In a month full of superhero releases, Philomena is one bright spot of a human-sized story about a real woman and her lifelong quest to find her son. If you’ve been thinking of scheduling a movie into your time off for Thanksgiving weekend but don’t want to see Thor or some other violent fantasy hunk bash people, Philomena looks like a wonderful choice.

Philomena poster
Philomena poster

If you go, please share your reactions.

Lost Girl Season 3 Pre Show

Spend 45 minutes with Jay Firestone, Lost Girl producer, and the main cast of Lost Girl as they talk about what to expect in season 3.

The video was made after season 3 was shot, but before it was released, so we didn’t know about Tamsin. Present in this interview were Anna Silk, Zoie Palmer, Rick Howland, K.C. Collins, Ksenia Solo and Kris Holden-Ried.

I think this only appeared on Showcase, I don’t think it was shown on SyFy.

Season 3 is over now, but this video was new to me and I enjoyed it immensely. I hope you do, too.

As far as I know Showcase has not released a similar season 4 pre show, but if I find one, I’ll bring it to your attention.

Lost Girl: Season Three will be available on DVD and Blu-Ray soon at Amazon. The trailer for the DVD set promises an hour of footage unseen in the show plus material from Comic Con.

Bomb Girls the Movie: It’s a Go

Bomb Girls was a Canadian series, canceled after 2 seasons. It was a WWII story about women who worked in a bomb factory called Victory Munitions. It ran in Canada on Global TV and in the U.S. on Reelz. It’s  available on Netflix.

The show had a huge and enthusiastic following. After it was cancelled, a #savebombgirls campaign started on social media, especially Twitter, lobbying for a movie. The campaign worked!

Here’s a report from The Star, Bomb Girls return with TV movie.

The original cast, including Jodi Balfour, Charlotte Hegele, Ali Liebert and Canadian Screen Award-winning actress Meg Tilly, are all back for the movie, which is set in spring 1943. The workers at Victory Munitions are tasked with making newly developed sonar equipment, but there may be a saboteur in their midst.

To celebrate the upcoming TV movie, I decided to rewatch the entire series on Netflix. I am up to season 2, episode 6, “Where There’s Smoke,” which is the episode these screen shots came from since that’s what I was about to watch when I started writing this post.

The series focuses mainly on a few of the many women who work at Victory Munitions. They are led by Meg Tilly as Lorna Corbett. Meg Tilly so seldom appears in movies or on TV, and she is so wonderful when she does. It’s worth watching this series just to see her in action.

Meg Tilly as Lorna
Meg Tilly as Lorna

Lorna has grown children – played by Natasha Greenblatt and Brett Dier – and a husband crippled by his service in “the great war,” WWI. The husband is wonderfully played by Peter Outerbridge. Brett Dier does a great job as the son, a tail gunner home from the war to go on a Victory Bond tour as a hero, but he suffers from what we now call PTSD.

Lorna comforts Gladys
Lorna comforts Gladys. Look at the perfect set.

Lorna is the “floor matron” and mother hen to all the young women who come away from their former lives to work in the bomb factory.

Part of the story deals with the fear and ostracism of Italian and German Canadians who were sent to camps as soon as Canada entered the war. Lorna’s character is involved with trying to get a particular Italian, Marco (Antonio Cupo) fired from the bomb factory as a security risk. Marco is a handsome Italian and is a temptation to Lorna as well as several other women in the story. I don’t want to give you any spoilers about Marco, but he is important to many storylines in Bomb Girls.

The theme of prejudice and bigotry appears in other ways in Bomb Girls, with German POW’s, Italian internment camps, Japanese-American soldiers, and an Indian doctor that Lorna’s daughter falls in love with.

Jodi Balfour as Gladys
Jodi Balfour as Gladys

Jodi Balfour plays the rich Gladys Witham. Her parents own Witham Foods, an important supplier of rations to the soldiers. Gladys is engaged to an American (Sebastian Pigott) who her father (James McGowan) is bringing into the company. When America, enters the war, Gladys’ fella enlists.

Gladys is a rebel and wants to work in the factory, on the floor, making bombs. She does this, although it causes a lot of family conflict. She becomes friends with the other girls who work on the floor. She also rebels against the sexual standards of the day in ways that her parents think “could ruin her.” She rebels against her parents view of the war as a great opportunity to make huge profits. If one member of the cast could fill the role of what modern women were set to become after the war, Gladys would fit the bill.

Tahmoh Penikett joins the cast as factory security head toward the end of season 2 and gets Gladys involved in security. This storyline apparently continues in the movie, because Tahmoh Penikett is in the movie and the mention of saboteurs would fit his and Gladys’ part of the story.

Charlotte Hegele as Kate
Charlotte Hegele as Kate

Charlotte Hegele is Kate, a runaway from her oppressive and abusive father. She’s using an assumed name and trying to find a new life. She’s a wonderful singer and performs a number of songs as the stories unfold.

A singing trio
A singing trio

One of the times Kate performs, she’s part of a trio doing a jingle for Victory Munitions. In those days, women’s trios all sounded like The Andrews Sisters, but Kate also sings jazz, religious songs, and ballads.

Kate spends a lot of time hiding her real identity and name, a habit which causes her problems when she finds a steady boyfriend.

Charlotte Hegele as Kate and Ali Liebert as Betty
Charlotte Hegele as Kate and Ali Liebert as Betty

Kate and Betty (Ali Liebert) live in the same rooming house, work the same shift at the factory, and soon become fast friends. Betty’s feelings for Kate run to love, not friendship. Kate is not able to return Betty’s feelings in the way Betty wishes she would, which causes some conflict between them. Even so, Betty is very protective of Kate and helps her escape from her father for good.

Rachel Wilson as Teresa
Rachel Wilson as Teresa

One of Betty’s ploys to try to fit in at the factory was to have a boyfriend – a very unsatisfactory relationship for her. About midway through season 2, episode 6 to be exact, Betty meets a soldier named Teresa (Rachel Wilson) who makes it plain very quickly that she understands Betty’s sexual inclinations and shares them.

Ali Liebert as Betty and Rachel Wilson as Teresa
Ali Liebert as Betty and Rachel Wilson as Teresa

When Betty is with Teresa, she finally has her first sexual experience that feels right to her. Betty is what might have been called “a tough cookie” in the 40s, yet she is complex and vulnerable in surprising ways.

Anastasia Phillips as Vera
Anastasia Phillips as Vera

Anastasia Phillips as Vera is the final major female character in the story. She is injured while working the line and has a terrible scar.

Vera and Lorna working together
Vera and Lorna working together

The scar affects Vera’s self-esteem in interesting ways – it brings her near suicide, but she comes out of it.  She uses sex to help heal herself on the inside as the scar heals on the outside. In her job at the factory, it turns out she’s really smart and capable and she ends up bringing all sorts of good ideas to Victory Munitions. Vera is the kind of woman who probably went on to run a business of her own after the war.

Themes of friendship and feminism permeate the stories in Bomb Girls. All of the women in Bomb Girls teach each other lessons and offer each other strength. They also teach their male bosses, boyfriends, and families exactly how vital and important women are to the war effort. It was an exciting time for women in Canada and everywhere, and their stories explain how women’s early steps into feminism and the workplace happened.

Rosie O’Donnell does a turn as a newspaper reporter who inspired Lorna to ask for raises for herself and the girls, making equal pay another theme in the series.

Gladys on the phone
Gladys on the phone, properly dressed in a hat

You may not be old enough to remember how things looked and sounded in the 40s, but I am. The details in Bomb Girls in costuming and sets and props and music and radio broadcasts and magazines and every other way are perfect. And all those women’s hats! It’s a complete treat to watch just for the way it looks and sounds.

If you haven’t watched this series about women’s lives during a pivotal period of history, I think you’ll enjoy checking it out.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Final Trailer

This is the final trailer for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which stars Jennifer Lawrence. The film opens in the U.S. on November 22.

Are you planning to go see this film in a theater?

Joss Whedon: He’s Our Man!

Angel, Spike, Xander, Mal Reynolds, Jayne, Dr. Horrible, Victor, Topher Brink, Tony Stark, Agent Coulson. Great characters. I enjoy them all. One thing they have in common is that they are some of the on-screen characters under the guiding mind of Joss Whedon. He uses some great characters in his stories – at least half of them are men.

I don’t care about any of those guys. Why? Because everybody writes great male characters for film and TV.

Joss Whedon does something that everybody else doesn’t always do. He writes great female character, too. Speaking as a woman, I can testify to the fact that women are desperate to see great female characters on their various screens. When someone like Joss Whedon gives us that with brilliant consistency, women notice. I pay homage to him today.

Here’s a little treat in the form of a few of the women Joss Whedon invented for the screen, with Joss’s fuzzy and warm face right in the middle. I’m not going to name characters and shows to match up with the faces below. If you don’t already know those facts, you need to embark on a study of Joss Whedon’s filmography immediately.

Whedon Women

I love you, Joss, and every woman you ever created.

Whedon on Whedon Women

This is an old speech, from 2006 and Equality Now, but I know Joss Whedon still gets the same question everywhere he goes. It’s worth listening to his answer one more time.

Joss is right. Instead of asking him why he’s doing it right, we should start asking everyone else why they’re doing it wrong.

A full transcript of this speech is available.

Update

The tweet is referring to this event:

On 4 November, Equality Now will honor award-winning writer, director, producer and Advisory Board member, Joss Whedon, for his work on gender equality at an event in Beverly Hills, California. Chaired by Board member Gloria Steinem and hosted by Paul Reiser.

Joss Whedon’s photo featured above ©Gage Skidmore.

Last Tango in Halifax might be Last Tango in Santa Fe

The Guardian tells us that Diane Keaton plans US remake of BBC’s Last Tango in Halifax. It will air on HBO. Sally Wainwright, the creator of the show, says she will be a producer of the American version but will not have a huge role in the production.

I know I have lots of feelings about this news, and I’m sure the dedicated Last Tango fans do, too.

First, where would it be set? I just made up the part about Santa Fe. It’s a cool place, there are ranches surrounding it, and a lot of films get made in New Mexico. It might be a sensible location for a series that needs both urban and rural settings along with great scenery. Diane Keaton has not asked for my opinion in this matter, however.

Who would be in it? Would Diane Keaton play Celia? She’s 67. What American actresses are in their 70s? Shirley MacLaine, Barbra Streisand, Faye Dunaway, Jane Fonda, Ellen Burstyn, Olympia Dukakis, Julie Christie, Candice Bergen are a few possible names. So we have talent in that age category, but American women don’t look their age. That’s a bit of a problem. Do we want to see anyone who doesn’t look as genuine Anne Reid in the role?

Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi in Last Tango in Halifax
Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi in Last Tango in Halifax

There are simply tons of older men to choose from for Alan. Robert DeNiro, Robert Redford, Harrison Ford, Peter Coyote and dozens more. But I so like Derek Jacobi’s sweet and loving Alan. Some swaggering American who is used to waving a gun around just doesn’t feel right. And 70 year-old American men still fancy themselves leading men who should be snaring women 30 and 40 years younger than themselves. That’s a bit of a problem, too. As for the feckless John, Tony Gardner was perfection in this part. Who could equal that?

What about Caroline and Gillian and Kate? Remember my dream actress pairing of Ashley Judd and Jennifer Beals? Think they’d make a good Caroline and Kate? Other actresses in their 40s abound, include Sandra Bullock, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Garner, Renée Zellweger and lots more. But I’m sort of convinced that Sarah Lancashire is irreplaceable as Caroline. Nicola Walker in her jeans and Converse sneakers brings such nuance and subtlety to Gillian.

Casting is a challenge. Adapting the dialog and locations will be a challenge as well. Diane Keaton has taken on a huge task to make this wonderful story American. I wish her well, and I wish her great luck finding the right people to do the writing and casting and create the sets.

I’m really attached to Last Tango in Halifax. Even so, Diane Keaton is trustworthy, in my opinion. If anyone can make a love story about older adults shine, it should be Diane Keaton. Who knows, I may love the American version of this tale of second chances as much as I do the British one.

When I get attached to a show, like the Millennium series in Swedish (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest) I feel a vague dread at the arrival of American versions. Then I go see it (of course) and I like it on it’s own merit. It isn’t the same as the original, but it still has the characters and the story and I end up enjoying both versions. I’m ready to see what happens to this lovely British tale of second chances. Go, Diane!

One extra good piece of good news from The Guardian post is,

The second series of Last Tango In Halifax, one of BBC1’s biggest-rating new shows of 2012, launches next month and a third is planned.

A big hurrah for season 3.

Diane Keaton image © 2003 Columbia Pictures

No, You Silly, They Aren’t Clones, They’re Septuplets

Tatiana Maslany got so much attention for her amazing work in Orphan Black. The series Orphan Black received rave reviews. Orphan Black looks and smells like success and money. How you gonna jump on the Orphan Black bandwagon?

Here’s how.

Noomi Rapace is set to play 7 different sisters in What Happened to Monday? The premise of this dystopian sci fi future world is that overpopulation has limited the number of children allowed per family to one.

There are the rules, and then there are 7 baby girls. Seems we have septuplets on our hands. They are hidden away and only allowed to be seen one at a time.

Noomie Rapace as Lisbeth Salandar
Noomie Rapace as Lisbeth Salandar

The What Happened to Monday? director is Tommy Wirkola of Hansel and Gretel. Rapace played Lisbeth Salander in the Millennium series films – the original Swedish versions, not the American one – of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. She has also been in several American productions.

There’s more good news for the 7 sisters in What Happened to Monday? They were originally supposed to be 7 brothers, and Wirkola decided Rapace was perfect for the part. So, maybe they are cloning the clones, but they have a good star and what could be a good idea.

Noomi Rapace image ©Iker Arbildi.