Helix: Coming to SyFy in January

SyFy is a favorite channel. I’ve loved Eureka, Warehouse 13, Defiance, Continuum, and Lost Girl. I even watch Haven sometimes, although it isn’t nearly as good as the other shows I mentioned.

Helix, a show coming in the new year, looks like it may be another favorite. Here’s the trailer.

Here are some things it has going for it.

  • Stories about the CDC and mysterious viral outbreaks always interest me.
  • Billy Campbell is playing the lead character. I like him. This is important because I tend to watch shows with female lead characters. When I entertain thoughts of watching a male led story, the guy better be someone I can tolerate.
  • There are plenty of women characters in the story, including a newly announced part for Jeri Ryan.
  • The show is partly the work of Ron Moore, who worked on Battlestar Gallactica in all its incarnations and on Carnivàle, a show I enjoyed for the weirdness.

I have a friend who won’t watch anything sci fi. She’s perfect except for this one defect. Personally, I love the weird stuff.

Are you interested? There are a bunch of clips from the show at SyFy.com. Check it out and let me know if you think you’ll be watching.

Season 2 of Last Tango in Halifax begins on BBC One

If you are in the U.K., you can see Last Tango in Halifax season 2 now. Here’s the trailer for season 2.

For those of us in the U.S., here are some nice resources for interviews, image galleries and other goodies related to season 2. It will have to be enough to get us through the waiting. Crossing my fingers that PBS brings Last Tango in Halifax to our side of the Atlantic very soon.

Fans React to Eli’s Hot Crush on The Good Wife

On this week’s episode of The Good Wife, America Ferrera returned as a guest. Eli goes all twitterpated over her. It’s sweet and charming. It’s nice to see Alan Cumming get to break out of his straight-and-serious-suit persona and go a little googly-eyed over a smart and beautiful woman. He’s normally surrounded by smart and beautiful women, but he merely snarls at them. America Ferrera is Eli’s kryptonite.

Alan Cumming and America Ferrera seemed to enjoy the episode as much as the fans.

Josh Charles nabbed an amazing photo (and used a nice filter on it) of them when they were chatting.

Fan Reaction to the Pairing

Fans, me among them, loved this unlikely pair. Here are some sample tweets about the show.

I hope we see more of these two in the coming weeks. They are delightful.

America Ferrera in The Good Wife image © 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Scandal gets Epic with Everything’s Coming Up Mellie

In many ways, the “Everything’s Coming Up Mellie” episode of Scandal belongs to Bellamy Young. The title is a big clue (duh). We see Mellie in new ways, learn some important backstory, and Bellamy Young enjoys an opportunity to stretch beyond her usual boundaries.

Quinn’s (Katie Lowes) story is important to the overall arc of this week’s Scandal as well. I’ll mostly recap what these two do and leave out some other bits of the episode in the process.

As the episode begins, Mellie is trying to redeem her image in the public’s mind after ratting out her cheating husband on live TV. She’s showing a female reporter around the White House, acting cheerful and bright and happy and supportive of her man.

Bellamy Young as Mellie and Tony Goldwyn as Fitz.
Bellamy Young as Mellie and Tony Goldwyn as Fitz.

Flashback to California 15 years ago. Mellie and Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) in bed, in love. A man yells at them to come downstairs.

Barry Bostwick as the elder Fitzgerald Grant
Barry Bostwick as the elder Fitzgerald Grant

The man is Fitz’s father, Fitzgerald Grant II (AKA Jerry) played with horrible, dissolute intensity by Barry Bostwick.

Mellie and the elder Grant want Fitz to run for Congress. We learn how much of what Fitz has achieved is because of Mellie’s ambition. Mellie made him what he is with sheer force of will, and with Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry), whom Mellie and Fitz meet for the first time here. We knew about Mellie and Cyrus (with Olivia) deciding to cheat on vote counts to win the Presidential election, but now we are seeing where it all began with Mellie and Cyrus.

Jeffy Perry as Cyrus
Jeff Perry as Cyrus looks over the future candidate and declares him tall

Young Cyrus has a full head of hair, a beard, a wife of the female variety, and a chart of California on a tripod that he uses to explain how Fitz will win the state.

Cut to Quinn at the shooting range with Leo (Paul Adelstein). She’s finally starting to hit the target. She’s also getting sexually interested in Leo. Quinn has been attracted to the dark side of Huck (Guillermo Díaz) for some time, and handling a gun is part of her journey into some other place which we haven’t seen yet.

Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope
Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope

At Olivia’s, the special phone rings. The one connected to the POTUS. She ignores it, then runs back to answer. She lets Fitz know how angry she is. She discovered (in a previous episode) that he was the Navy pilot who shot down the plane her mother died in. (We got a tiny glimpse of Olivia’s mother in a flashback in an earlier episode. She was played by Khandi Alexander, whose name appears in the credits for this episode. Will she be in another flashback?) Olivia also discovered that her father (Joe Morton) gave the order for the plane to be shot down. Olivia has been digging into this whole mess for a couple of episodes and is not happy about any of it. Fitz begs her to leave it alone for her own safety.

At the office, Olivia tells the gladiators that their new client is her mother, and pastes a photo of her on their case wall.

Mellie is showing the reporter paintings in the White House, bringing up a discussion of the Grant political dynasty, leading us into another flashback of 15 years ago in California. Cyrus wants Fitz to run on his record as a war hero. Fitz says running on his military experience is off limits.

the pilot
The pilot

At Olivia’s office the conversation is about the plane getting shot down and her father’s role in it. That’s when she pastes a photo of the plane’s pilot up on the case wall. It’s the POTUS.

Guillermo Díaz as Huck and Katie Lowes as Quinn
Guillermo Díaz as Huck and Katie Lowes as Quinn

Quinn follows Huck (Guillermo Díaz) into his office and says she is interested in what he does “for the right reasons.” He’s been trying to keep her from going into his particular rabbit hole full of hell but she keeps pressing.

The gladiators discover two important things. Someone was taken off the flight at the last minute. They are tracking down the gate agent. Fitzgerald Grant II was the head of the congressional committee investigating the plane crash. First Olivia’s dad and now Fitz’s Daddy dearest were in on the whole thing.

In California, 15 years ago. We learn that Fitz joined the Navy in perhaps the only independent decision of his entire life. His father berates him, belittles him and generally shows us what an ass a father can be. They talk about shooting down the plane and his father says he owns Fitz because he covered up the shooting down of the plane. Fitz doesn’t want to run on his war record because of this incident.

Quinn is spying on Leo while he spies on someone. He catches her at it, kisses her, and says she should give him a call. She’s hooked.

Mellie realizes Fitz isn't there for the reporter
Mellie realizes Fitz isn’t there for the reporter

Mellie takes the reporter into the Oval Office to show her how the baby and his daddy say goodnight. Fitz isn’t there. Flashback to 15 years ago. Cyrus is leaving the Grant house because he doesn’t do family drama. Mellie begs him to stay. Cyrus says that if Fitz is going to be governor, he is Mellie’s full time job. She promises to make him ready to work. This is it, the moment when Mellie gives up her own life in order to make her man President.

Mellie’s in Cyrus’ office. She is livid because Fitz didn’t show up for the good night baby scene with the reporter. Cyrus doesn’t know if he will show up tomorrow for an interview.

The gladiators find out the name of the man they took off the plane.

Leo calls Quinn and asks her what she’s doing tomorrow night. She smiles.

In California 15 years ago, the elder Grant is ranting to Mellie about how he’s a decent father. He talks about the flight Fitz shot down. He says there was a dirty bomb on board, Fitz was stationed in Iceland and he shot it down. If it had reached its target it would have taken out half of London. Mellie says everyone died, but the elder Grant explains what would have happened if the plane reached London. Then he sits down next to Mellie and says, “Good God, you’re a beautiful woman.”

rape
It’s rape, you ass.

He grabs her, she objects, says no, pushes back. He says, “You know you want it.” He rapes her.

Back to now, Mellie waits for Fitz in the Oval Office.

I am tired of doing everything myself.
I am tired of doing everything myself

Mellie gives Fitz hell, tells him she’s tired of doing everything herself, they are supposed to be partners, talks about her sacrifices. He treats her like shit and all she’s ever done is fight for him. She says he doesn’t have to love her but he needs to be her friend and show up for her. It’s a long, powerful scene for Bellamy Young. When she finishes this, we flash back to moments post-rape, when she came into the bedroom where Fitz was waiting in bed. She wanted a shower desperately but Fitz made her lay down beside him. She hid her emotions from him, hid what had happened, and endured his whining. Fitz says, just once he wishes his father would apologize and be on his side.

In the present, Mellie is surprised when Fitz shows up for an interview with the reporter. The reporter asks Mellie why she went on live TV to talk about her husband’s affair and says many Americans think she’s insane. Mellie can’t give the reporter a good comeback.

Fitz takes responsibility
Fitz takes responsibility

Fitz takes over the interview and says, “I had the affair, I should bear the responsibility. I made the mistake. Don’t blame Mellie for what I did.” Wow, he did step up. Mellie is a bit amazed but grateful.

Leo and Quinn are in a car, watching a security guy on the ground floor of a high rise office. Leo shows her a syringe and asks her if she wants to give the security guy enough of a shot to put him to sleep and then disable the security cameras. She says yes. They get it on right there in the front seat. Afterwards, Quinn enters the high rise, stabs the guy with the syringe. Blood pours out of his mouth and he drops dead. She panics, touches him, gets blood on her hands, and runs out.

Back to 15 years ago, Mellie uses the rape to force the elder Grant to apologize to Fitz and tell him what he needs to hear in order to get him to run for Governor. He does it.

Jake (Scott Foley), who is working for Olivia now, shows up outside the high rise. Police are everywhere and they are carrying out a body. Seems the guy Quinn was tricked into killing is the guy the gladiators were looking for to learn more about the flight Fitz shot down.

Quinn’s in an alley trying to call Huck. Leo appears, shows her video of her committing the murder, and says, “You belong to B-16 now. Welcome to Wonderland.” Quinn is now trapped in the same hell as Huck, plus she killed the only clue Olivia had to the case. Damn.

Olivia’s father strides through a jail, enters a cell. Interspersed with this, we see Fitz examine intel that lets him figure out that the guy who ordered the plane to be shot down is Olivia’s father and that one of the passengers was Olivia’s mother. In the jail, Olivia’s father sits down and says, “Our daughter’s been asking about you.”

Khandi Alexander as Maya Lewis
Khandi Alexander as Maya Lewis

Olivia’s mother turns over on her cot and looks at him.

Fifteen years ago in the governor’s race: Mellie is thanking everyone who worked on the campaign for being so much help. She tells Fitz she’s pregnant, he kisses her and says, “You know if it’s a boy, he’ll make us name it Jerry.”

Who's the daddy?
Who’s the daddy?

Mellie’s expression is enough to make us wonder if the elder Grant is the father of the child. Oh, oh.

Watch the Trailer for The Invisible Woman

Coming in December, The Invisible Woman stars Ralph Fiennes as Charles Dickens. Fiennes also directed the film. The title character is Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones), a young actress whom Dickens met at the height of his fame and had a secret affair with. The costume drama also stars Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Hollander, Michelle Fairley and Joanna Scanlan. It opens on Christmas Day.

The film is based on The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens by Claire Tomalin.

Does it look good to you?

Judi Dench Fights R Rating in M’s Persona – Updated

Judi Dench is not happy about the R rating Philomena received in the U.S. The rating was the result of a couple of utterances of the word fuck. According to Variety,

Harvey Weinstein geared up for a familiar ratings fight, appearing on “CBS This Morning” to announce that he and Philomena star Judi Dench are “in a battle” with the MPAA, since the drama was rated R, unjustly in many observers’ opinions, for using the F-word twice. Mr. W. gave the morning show the first look at a brief video with Dench as her M character from the James Bond series — with the M helping spell out the word “Philomena.” The 23-second spot is a teaser for an upcoming Funny or Die video.

I want to see Philomena, and I want to see the rest of this Funny or Die video! What a tease.

Updated!

Funny or Die has released more of the video. Here you go:

Watch the Trailer

Watch the trailer for Philomena here. It’s a film that looks perfectly wonderful with no violence, gun battles, overt sex or any other taboo you might worry about for younger kids, unless you’ve somehow managed to protect them from ever hearing the F-word uttered.

Updated Again. It worked!

The fight to get the rating lowered in the U.S. to PG-13 was won. Go see this great movie with your kids.

 

Watch the Trailer for Winter’s Tale

Winter’s Tale is coming on Valentine’s Day 2014. This generation jumping love story stars Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt, Eva Marie Saint and Russell Crowe.

If you go in for magical realism, true love despite all odds, the battles of good and evil, and a heart throbby Colin Farrell, this movie will make your Valentine’s Day perfect.

Winter's Tale Poster
Winter’s Tale Poster

Are you a sucker for a good love story? I am. Think you’ll go see this movie?

Lisa Kudrow Kicks Butt in Scandal

The last couple of weeks Lisa Kudrow has been on Scandal. She plays Congresswoman Josephine Marcus who wants to run for President. Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) is helping with her image and her PR.

Their first hurdle was a child the Congresswoman had at age 15. That child, played by Sally Pressman from Army Wives is now 30 years old and thinks she’s the Congresswoman’s sister. Olivia is impressed by Congresswoman Marcus when she owns up to the birth on TV – even though she doesn’t reveal who the child is on TV.

Other hurdles involve the Congresswoman’s basic honesty and her desire not to accept big money contributions with all the strings that come attached to such contributions. Also, Olivia isn’t quite sure the Congresswoman is tough enough to get through a campaign.

Olivia gets the Congresswoman a TV interview with James Novak (Dan Bucatinsky), which is where this scene comes in.

I love so many things about this. I love every word that comes out of Lisa Kudrow’s mouth and the perfect way she delivers the lines. I love the look on Kerry Washington’s face as she listens. I love Shonda Rhimes for writing this and finding such an effective way to say it to the world. I love the way the sister/daughter character thinks she needs to shut the Congresswoman up and I love the way Darby Stanchfield’s character Abby says, “Don’t you dare.”

We may have a woman running for President in 2016. When that woman ran for the nomination in 2008, she faced sexism much more overt than what we saw in this scene from Scandal. That’s another reason why I love this scene. It isn’t about the big gender gaffes that get everyone’s attention. It’s points out the subtle sexism that is so insidious. It points out the quiet sexism that nobody rails against in The New York Times, that nobody editorializes about it in Salon. It’s about the framing: the lovely home, the feminine props with the iced tea – the subtle sexism escapes our overt notice but influences our worldview. It’s about the language: the Cinderella story wording – the subtle sexism doesn’t raise any red flags, but silently shapes our worldview.

Even the title of this clip, “Josi loses her temper on TV,” is sexist. I don’t know who titled it, but it’s not the title anyone would put on a clip like this if a man were pointing out inequality.

Congresswoman Josephine Marcus kicked butt. Lisa Kudrow kicked butt. I speak for every woman on the planet when I say, kick a lot more butt, Congresswoman. Can I vote for a fictional Congresswoman? I sure want to.

A big thank you to Shonda Rhimes for Congresswoman Josephine Marcus and a storyline on Scandal about gender in politics.

As an aside, the Congresswoman created in Scandal reminds me of the truly outstanding political role model in the Danish series Borgen. Once again, I recommend Borgen for your viewing pleasure.

That Wasn’t an Earthquake

That was the impact of 500 million lesbians all over the globe fainting at the sight of this tweet.

Some selfies attract more attention than others, ya know.

 

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!