Recommended: Broadchurch

Broadchurch is a small town on the coast of England. Broadchurch, a new series on BBC America, takes its name from that location. A young boy is murdered there at the opening of this excellent police drama.

Episode 1 aired last Wednesday, but you can watch it before episode 2 on this coming Wednesday. Stay tuned to find out where.

David Tennant in Broadchurch
David Tennant in Broadchurch

Two police officers investigate the murder. David Tennant from Doctor Who plays DI Hardy. Olivia Coleman is DS Ellie Miller. Their first interaction is unfriendly, since DI Hardy is new in town and new on the job. Ellie Miller, a long-time Broadchurch officer, thought the DI job was going to be hers.

Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan play the murdered boy’s parents. Broadchurch is a small community where everyone knows everyone else. At least they seem to. There are secrets. The death of the boy impacts everyone in the community. DS Ellie Miller and her son Tom were close to the family of the murdered boy. In episode 1 we begin to see some of the ripples within the community as the town tries to deal with the event and the search for a suspect intensifies.

When news of the murder is leaked on Twitter, a media circus comes to town which adds to the ensemble of characters and to the drama going on in the homes of the community members.

I was immediately hooked on the drama, the characters, and their many secrets. The relationships between the police officers, the townspeople and the journalists is compelling.

Season 1 contained 8 episodes, which were well received in the UK. A second season is scheduled, even though reports are that we learn the identity of the murderer at the end of episode 8.

If you missed the premier, BBC America has made the whole episode available on YouTube. You can also see the entire episode on BBC America. Episode 2 will air on Wednesday.

I recommend you watch the premier of this excellent police drama and check your local listings for the time you can catch the rest of the episodes on BBC America.

All images ©BBC America.

The Zombie Apocalypse Makes Metaphoric Sense

As a metaphor, the zombie apocalypse makes a lot of sense. I can say “Global warming is the zombie apocalypse,” and you get my metaphor. Pick your disaster – climate change, the rise of the 1%, nuclear war, genocide – whatever. Compare it to the zombie apocalypse and people understand that you are saying that your disaster represents the end of the world as we know it and that chaos will follow.

The Walking Dead is very clear, metaphorically speaking. A zombie apocalypse wiped out every human institution and every kind of infrastructure that holds society together. The humans who survive are struggling to cope. Every human trait from morality to greed to violence to self-preservation to self-sacrifice can be built into stories around this struggle to cope and survive.

Under the Dome: Huh?

Under the Dome
Under the Dome, ©CBS Entertainment

Under the Dome is not so clear for me. Is the dome the end of the world – the whole world – the way a zombie apocalypse would be? No, because there are people outside the dome who are living their normal lives. Yes, the people inside the dome are struggling to cope, but with what, exactly?

The story lines about morality and greed and violence and self-preservation and self-sacrifice are still there, but in a tiny microcosm of all humanity. We presume that if the dome were lifted, life would again resemble the rest of the world outside the dome.

The people under the dome seem to feel that the dome is a living creature with intent, godlike. Is the metaphor in Under the Dome something about religion or faith? What about the two teens who seem to be receiving messages from the dome and whose touch can turn it from dangerous to benign? Do they represent some sort of savior? Is the fact that the dome is an invisible barrier important?

I’m not saying I don’t enjoy Under the Dome. I watch it, I’m engaged in it, I like the characters. There’s plenty of suspense and drama. However, I haven’t decided yet what I think the dome represents. Have you?

Zombie image ©AMC The Walking Dead

The L Word Opening Credits (Season Two)

season two

The regular cast for season 2, in each episode:

  • Jennifer Beals: Bette Porter
  • Leisha Hailey: Alice Pieszecki
  • Laurel Holloman: Tina Kennard
  • Mia Kirshner: Jenny Schecter
  • Katherine Moennig: Shane McCutcheon
  • Pam Grier: Kit Porter
  • Rachel Shelley: Helena Peabody
  • Erin Daniels: Dana Fairbanks
  • Eric Mabius: Tim Haspeth
  • Sarah Shahi: Carmen de la Pica Morales

Take a good look at this season 2 poster. Was there some other actress as Carmen who dropped out and they brought in Sarah Shahi? Because that just doesn’t look right.

Everything you need to know about The L Word can be learned from the opening credits. I take you from the first moments up to the director credit and leave you there. What more do you need to know? Continue reading “The L Word Opening Credits (Season Two)”

The L Word vs. The Fosters: In the Hospital

2006. Seven years ago. That’s when season 3 of The L Word was filmed. Season 3 is when Dana (Erin Daniels) dies of breast cancer.

I cannot find a video with the particular scenes I want from The L Word in it, so I’ll try to paint the scene with words.

When Dana was admitted to the hospital, the only people the hospital officials would talk to were her parents (Susan Hogan and Michael Hogan). As for Dana’s current partner Lara (Lauren Lee Smith) and her ex-partner and friend Alice (Leisha Hailey) – they weren’t given any news and weren’t allowed to visit Dana. All this is spite of the fact that her friends brought Dana to the hospital and had to call her parents themselves to notify them that Dana was sick. When Dana’s parents arrived, they told both Lara and Alice to go home.

The unfairness being denied access to loved ones in the hospital was painted loud and clear in The L Word. I think the issue was one of the reasons the series creators decided to do a breast cancer story. Access to loved ones who are same sex partners during health crises has been a rallying cry in the last few years in the struggle to legalize same-sex marriage. It’s been heard.

Flash forward to 2013 and the show The Fosters. Stef (Terri Polo) gets shot. Her partner Lena (Sherri Saum) and their 5 kids are all at the hospital. So is Stef’s ex-husband (Danny Nucci).

Look what happens at about the 3:36 mark after Lena tells the ER doctor (Samantha Sloyan) that she’s Stef’s domestic partner.

Seven years between these two scenes.

We live in a different world today, do we not? Visibility on television plays a part in changing attitudes. Pop culture does matter.

Images: ABC Family

The New Doctor Who

Reaction began immediately on Twitter to the announcement that Peter Capaldi would be the 12th Doctor Who. It was the top trending topic.

I was hoping it would be a woman – I heard Helen Mirren said she would do it – but the choice they made seems to be a solid one.

I do love this tweet though – let Tatiana Maslany play all the characters on Doctor Who!

What’s your reaction to the announcement, Whovians?

Official Press Photo of Peter Capaldi via @DoctorWho_BBCA

Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts Together Again on The Fosters

From 1998 to 2002 a series called Any Day Now captured my devoted attention. It starred Annie Potts as Mary Elizabeth (M.E.) Sims and Lorraine Toussaint as Rene Jackson. The two grew up together in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960’s. Despite their difference in race and the upheavals and violence of the civil rights movement swirling all around them in Birmingham, they were best friends.

Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts
Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts

Years have passed since those childhood days, which we see in frequent flashbacks. M.E. has been in Birmingham the entire time and has a husband (Chris Mulkey) and kids. She’s a housewife and aspiring writer. Rene has been gone, working as an attorney in Washington. She returns to Birmingham after her father’s death and they strike up their old friendship.

Any Day Now was about friendship and marriage and family. It was set in a crucible of the civil rights movement. The reverberations of race and the struggle for equality that affected the two friends’ childhoods and continued into their adulthoods made for powerful storytelling. Even though there were heavy themes involved, the stories were told with warmth and understanding.

While I loved it for the characters and the stories, it’s safe to say that it was a groundbreaking story of civil rights and race relations.

These two actresses – Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts – worked together to weave stories with a message about equality and human rights. Any Day Now ended over 10 years ago.

This week on ABC Family’s new series The Fosters, these two actresses will be together again.

The Fosters is about a multi-ethnic family of foster and biological kids raised by two moms. The moms are Stef Foster (Teri Polo), a police officer, and Lena Adams (Sherri Saum), a school Vice Principal. ABC Family emphasizes the family relationships and downplays the two mom aspect of this show to present it as just another family.

Much as ABC Family doesn’t make the lesbian couple the focus of this family drama, there’s still the lesbian issue right in your face. And the race issue. Lena is bi-racial. Two of the adopted children are Hispanic. While I love it for the characters and the stories, it’s safe to say that it is a groundbreaking story of civil rights and race relations.

The Fosters Wedding
Sherri Saum and Terri Polo

Monday night on ABC Family, in the season 1 finale of The Fosters, Stef and Lena are getting married. Their parents will be in attendance. Their mothers will be played by Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts.

On the very day the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the wedding scenes in the series finale were filmed.

When the civil rights struggles began in the 60’s, no one knew how long the fight would last or how hard the battles would be. A movement that originated around justice for African Americans has grown to include women’s rights and gay rights and encompasses numerous social justice issues. It isn’t over. We still struggle, despite all our progress.

It’s a long and painful history of struggle and progress that I will remember when I see the wedding of two women on The Fosters. A history that is tangibly tied to the early struggles in Birmingham and the South by the presence of two women who worked on a show called Any Day Now. This episode of The Fosters represents much more than a modern love story. It represents 50 years of the fight for equality in America.

Bravo to ABC Family and The Fosters for pulling these threads together into this powerful television moment with two brilliant casting choices – Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts.

Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts images via Lifetime.

Update: This post was syndicated on BlogHer.com.

Must Watch Show: Switched at Birth Renewed for a 3rd Season

Switched at Birth on ABC Family is a terrific series. The announcement came this week that it’s renewed for a 3rd season. I originally watched because I’m a Marlee Matlin fan and like shows that feature sign language, but I quickly got caught up in the story and interested in the characters.

Daphne Toby Emmett Bay

The story involves Bay Kennish (Vanessa Marano) who should have been a Vasquez, and Daphne Vasquez (Katie Leclerc) who should have been a Kennish. Instead they got switched at birth and went home from the hospital with the wrong families. The story begins when the two girls are in high school and the truth is revealed to the families and the world at large because Bay does a science project involving DNA.

The Kennish family is wealthy and privileged.  D.W. Moffett plays John Kennish, the father. Lea Thompson is Kathryn Kennish, the mother. Lea Thompson and Katie Leclerc could be biologically related – they look that much alike. Lucas Grabeel is Toby Kennish, who is Daphne’s biological brother but regards Bay as his sister.

Constance Marie plays Regina Vasquez, who raised Daphne as a single mom. An alcoholic single mom. Single because Daphne’s father, Angelo, who we don’t meet into well into the series, took off. He’s played by Gilles Marini. He may have taken off because Daphne got sick and went deaf or because of issues around Regina’s drinking. Anyway, he was an absent father.

Associated with these characters from the start are Emmett (Sean Berdy) a deaf friend of Regina and Daphne’s and Emmett’s mother Melody (Marlee Matlin) who is also deaf.

A recurring conflict in the series is what happens when the deaf community comes up against the hearing community. When the Kennish family meet Daphne, they all learn some sign language. But there are conflicts around this culture clash in many episodes. In one episode the deaf students at the school that both Bay and Daphne attend stage a strike to try to keep the school from going 50% hearing / 50% deaf. Since Bay is hearing, this adds to the many conflicts between Bay and Daphne.

Incidentally, the school strike episode was almost completely done in sign, a first for any TV series.

Bay and Daphne face conflicts over boyfriends and schools. There are jealousies over access to parents and acceptance by parents both biological and by upbringing. The girls face their identity crises in completely different ways.

Everyone in both families consider the parents who raised each girl to be the parents. The parents with the last word, so to speak. The newly discovered birth parents are referred to as “biological” parents. Soon enough, however, both girls effectively have two sets of parents because they all live together in the Kennish compound, which includes a guest house.

Another recurring storyline of conflict involves who knew what and when. Turns out Regina knew early on that the babies had been switched and had been keeping an eye on Bay all along. Boy, was John Kennish mad when he found out that secret.

ABC Family put together a couple of videos that will help you see a little of this in action.

Beginners Guide to Switched at Birth, Part 1

Beginners Guide to Switched at Birth, Part 2

ABC Family can add this to its list of other series that look at the question of what makes a family, most notably The Fosters. In both The Fosters and Switched at Birth, there are themes around whether family is biology, or love, or some other combination of factors that mix with biology and love.

If you aren’t already a fan of Switched at Birth, I hope you’ll give your consideration. It’s worth it.

Season 2 Casting News for Orange is the New Black – Updated

The latest from Netflix about season 2 of Orange is the New Black is that Lorraine Toussaint was added to the cast as a prisoner named Vee. Lorraine Toussaint was a regular on Body of Proof, Friday Night Lights and Saving Grace, but I love her most of all from Any Day Now. Any Day Now was set in 1960’s Birmingham, Alabama during the height of the civil rights movement. If you haven’t seen it you should look it up and watch it.

Danielle Brooks

Netflix also announced that Danielle Brooks, who plays Taystee will be a regular. Danielle Brooks is fresh out of Julliard. Her career is off to a solid gold start with OITNB and Taystee.

Taryn Manning

Taryn Manning is promoted to being a cast regular as well. The announcement is a bit of a spoiler alert, since it means that Piper didn’t do as much damage to Pennsatucky at the end of Season 1 as we might have thought.

Update 2/1/2014

The news about casting for season 2 announced recently is that Lori Petty from Tank Girl has a part in Orange is the New Black. The name of her character and what part she’ll play in the show isn’t explained yet.

The L Word Opening Credits (Season One)

Everyone fast forwarded through the credits of The L Word because they didn’t like the theme song.

Big mistake.

You can learn everything you need to know about all 6 seasons, all 70 episodes, just by watching the opening credits. I’ve had it in my head for years that it would be fun to do recaps of The L Word using only what you see in the credits. Let the fun begin. Continue reading “The L Word Opening Credits (Season One)”

Do You Like The Walking Dead?

I got a note from someone the other day talking about some of their favorite shows. Many were shows I like. The Walking Dead was on her list, but I’ve never watched it. Look how popular it is as a graphic novel.

I love a good scifi show. I haven’t avoided this one because it’s about zombies. My issue with zombie movies is there are so few women. After learning about producer Gale Ann Hurd last weekend, and the women she makes sure to include in her productions, I’m thinking maybe I misjudged The Walking Dead. Did I?

I trust this woman’s judgement about good shows, so I’m wondering if you watch The Walking Dead? Why do you like it?

Should I start watching it?

Laurie Holden image from AMC.