Brain Dump: The Collection, Shots Fired, Switched at Birth

Time for a brain dump: scattered thoughts about random TV shows. These things made an impression lately. I was bored by high fashion, impressed by a gritty look at American policing, and sad to see an old favorite say goodbye. Continue reading “Brain Dump: The Collection, Shots Fired, Switched at Birth”

Brain Dump: Supergirl & The Flash, American Crime, Taken, Shots Fired

This and that about a few TV shows: a brain dump. This week I’m thinking about musical crossovers, hidden slavery in America, the ratio of Beals to violence, and the criminal justice system. Continue reading “Brain Dump: Supergirl & The Flash, American Crime, Taken, Shots Fired”

Brain Dump: The Women of the New Fall TV Series

A brain dump is a series of short thoughts on a variety of subjects. Today’s topic is the women of the new TV series for fall 2015.

Supergirl

Still of David Harewood, Chyler Leigh and Melissa Benoist in Supergirl

I’m happy to see a short hair cut on Chyler Leigh in Supergirl. The trend toward super long hair like Melissa Benoist is wearing in the show has gone on too long. Let’s cut that hair, ladies. I know, this has nothing to do with the show, but I’m sick of long hair.

First, Melissa Benoist is fabulous as our newest super hero. She’s fresh and enthusiastic and naive and so damn cute. Super heroes are not supposed to be cute, but I’m voting to let this one be cute while she’s growing into her powers. She can be serious and adult later.

Secondly, Laura Benanti who is playing both Kara’s kind mother and evil aunt is killing it!

Finally, I was fearful from the previews that Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) would be a horrible, overwrought caricature. Refreshingly, Flockhart is playing her as a close to  normal human.

Blindspot

Ashley Johnson and Jaime Alexander in Blindspot

Jaimie Alexander is starring in Blindspot and doing a fantastic job at it. However Ashley Johnson as the geeky Patterson has stolen my attention because of her relationship with her boyfriend David (Joe Dinicol). Patterson took home photos of all of Jane Doe’s tattoos and worked to decode the meaning of them with David’s help. It’s a huge security violation for her to do this and implies she might not be as smart as she should be when it comes to real life. I also worry that David is just with her because he’s a spy who is only there to see the tattoos.

This week her security lapse was discovered by the boss, Mayfair (Marianne Jean-Baptiste). Patterson wasn’t fired, but she broke up with David. We’ll see how that works out in future episodes.

Code Black

Still of Marcia Gay Harden and Luis Guzmán in Code Black

Who needs another medical show, right? Code Black turns out to be pulse pounding, crisis mode emergency room medicine. Everything is urgent and frantic. Amid all this chaos is Marcia Gay Harden as Dr. Leanne Rorish who is calm and kind and dedicated to teaching her charges how to save lives. She’s the eye of a hurricane. She’s grieving the loss of her family while guiding the life savers she’s training.

Dr. Rorish is one of the most powerful and vulnerable characters to come along in a while. And she is flanked by several other interesting female characters. I’m digging Code Black.

Quantico

Still of Priyanka Chopra, Brian J. Smith, Johanna Braddy and Yasmine Al Massri in Quantico

At first it looked like Quantico was mainly a vehicle for Priyanka Chopra, but it’s turned out to be a true ensemble show with moments for many female characters including those played by Johanna Braddy, Yasmine Al Massri (who plays twins Orphan Black style), and Aunjanue Ellis. The male characters on the show are equally well done. The plot of this series is as complicated as How to Get Away with Murder. There are plenty of twists and turns and surprises to egg you along.

What are your thoughts about the women of the new fall TV shows?

Brain Dump: Characters We Love to Hate

A brain dump is a series of short thoughts on this and that. Today I have a theme: characters we love to hate.

American Crime

The cast of American Crime. Photo © 2014 American Broadcasting Companies
Some of the cast of American Crime. Photo © 2014 American Broadcasting Companies

I have not discovered one likeable character in American Crime. Every person in the story – from the cops to the victims to the families to the criminals – is truly fucked up. I can admire the acting. I can say, “Wow, Felicity Huffman (or Timothy Hutton or Caitlin Gerard or Richard Cabral) is doing a fantastic acting job.” Huffman’s character in particular is the most distasteful person. I cannot bring myself to like her.

Since this drama is a reflection on the American legal system, on American racial (in)justice, and on American family values it makes sense that there isn’t much to like. But, dang, I wish there was some little thread to hold on to.

Nashville

Hayden Panettiere in Nashville
Hayden Panettiere in Nashville

Well, they haven’t dubbed her “The Queen of Mean” for nothing on Nashville. Hayden Panettiere as Juliette Barnes has never been a sweetheart, but pregnancy and motherhood have turned her into a complete shrew. Why Avery (Jonathan Jackson) loves her is beyond understanding. Why her employees put up with her is a mystery. That Rayna (Connie Britton) maintains Juliette on her record label is amazing. Hayden Panettiere deserves much credit for being so convincing as a super-bitch season after season.

Scandal

Joe Morton in Scandal. Image © 2014 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
Joe Morton in Scandal. Image © 2014 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

Everyone in Scandal has questionable ethics. It’s the ends, not the means, that count on Scandal. Let’s face it, neither of Olivia Pope’s (Kerry Washington) parents are good role models. The people who work for her are truly scary. But Joe Morton as Rowan Pope has always been the worst of the worst.

Lately on the show Olivia has needed a white hat, a good guy. As Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) said in Orphan Black, she’s hoping for one good person in a corrupt world. Olivia’s having trouble finding even one good person. She’s turned on her dad, hoping to see him jailed for his multitude of crimes, but he’s so powerful he may either kill or destroy everything in Olivia’s world if she persists.

I’d hate to see Rowan Pope eliminated from this show. Joe Morton is outstanding in the part. But once in a while, even in the putrid world of Washington politics, don’t the good guys win? Or are there no good guys in Washington politics?

Brain Dump: House of Cards, Empire, The Americans, The Fosters

It’s a brain dump day. Just a little bit of one thing or another in disconnected ramblings.

House of Cards

Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in House of Cards
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in House of Cards

When Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) finally has all the power in the world in his hands, he becomes a tyrant and a bigger ass than he ever was. And when Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) has a chance, she chooses to do the right thing. Unlike dear Frank.

House of Cards is more about the relationship between Frank and Claire than it is about political intrigue and power. Season 3 really brings that home, especially the final moments.

Favorite scenes: 1. When Claire shamed the Russian President on Russian TV. 2. When Frank caused Jesus to go all to pieces. 3. When Claire – aw, shucks, that’s too big of a spoiler to share.

Empire

Taraji P. Henson and Terrance Howard in Empire
Taraji P. Henson and Terrance Howard in Empire

I’m surprised by how much I’m enjoying Empire. I know I’m a sucker for any show with music, but I thought this one would be different because I don’t enjoy rap. I get tired of all those male voices in rap. But the music on this show is good, with only an occasional bit of rap and with plenty of women performers in the mix.

I’m also into the characters and the drama. Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyons and Terrance Howard as Lucious Lyons show off outstanding acting chops in every episode, with the rest of the cast doing just as well. I’m happy it keeps climbing in the ratings, because that means it will probably be back for another season.

The Americans

Holly Taylor in The Americans
Holly Taylor in The Americans

In The Americans, Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) have agonized all season over when (or if) to explain to their oldest child Paige (Holly Taylor) that they are Russian spies. Phillip doesn’t want to. Elizabeth wants to but can’t bring herself to do it. It underscores everything that happens this season from what they do as spies to how they relate to each other and their daughter. It’s fascinating to watch their lives and all their assumptions kind of unravel over this issue.

The Fosters

Cierra Ramirez in The Fosters
Cierra Ramirez in The Fosters

I think we need more geeky young women on TV as role models. Well, we got one. Cierra Ramirez as Mariana on The Fosters turns out to be quite the hacker. I love Mariana the geek! More geeky girls, please.

 

Brain Dump: State of Affairs, Ghostbusters, After the Wedding, Five Days

It’s a brain dump day. Random stuff falls from my head in bits and pieces.

State of Affairs

Courtney B. Vance and Alfre Woodard in State of Affairs
Courtney B. Vance and Alfre Woodard in State of Affairs

Why do men married to powerful women always get portrayed in the media as whiney, needy irritations? A powerful man probably didn’t get where he is without a good spouse behind him. Why should a powerful woman get where she is without a good spouse behind her? Enough with this whiney-husband-of-a-woman-in-power trope. Come on State of Affairs, you can do better.

Ghostbusters

Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy
Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy

All female Ghostbusters. Yes! To the men who had the nerve to say that this ruins Ghostbusters for them, I say, “Sod off, you dozy pillocks!” Oops, I’ve been watching too many British dramas.

After the Wedding

Sidse Babett Knudsen and Mads Mikkelsen in After the Wedding
Sidse Babett Knudsen and Mads Mikkelsen in After the Wedding

I watched After the Wedding on Netflix. The original title is Efter brylluppet. I enjoyed it very much. It’s an interesting plot and well acted. The film is in a mix of Danish, Swedish, Hindi and English. Part of it takes place in India, part in Denmark. The main character is played by Mads Mikkelsen, but I decided to watch it because of the wonderful Sidse Babett Knudsen. If you enjoy foreign films, you may like this one. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year in 2007.

Five Days

Posters for 2 seasons of Five Days

Thanks to A Celtic-Dragon’s Blog for turning me on to Five Days. This British mystery series, written by Gwyneth Hughes, had a season in 2007 and another in 2010. Each series is 5 separate days from a police case. There are wonderful actors: Penelope Wilton, David Oyelowo, Janet McTeer, Hugh Bonneville, Suranne Jones, Anne Reid, Nina Sosanya and many others. I didn’t find anywhere that you can stream it, but Five Days, series 1 is available from Amazon on DVD.

Brain Dump: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, The Good Wife, Covert Affairs, Person of Interest

A brain dump about this and that. Join in with a comment.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Gugu Mbatha-Raw in and action scene from  Undercovers
Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Undercovers

Why do articles about Belle or Beyond the Lights refer to Gugu Mbatha-Raw as a “newcomer?” Are people blind? Or just blind to black faces? She was the star of the TV series Undercovers in 2010. She was in Larry Crowne in 2011. She was in Touch in 2012. She has, in fact, been acting in parts on our TVs since 2005. If so many media critics and reviewers haven’t noticed her before now, maybe they should get their vision checked.

The Good Wife

Cary and Kalinda
Cary and Kalinda

Whew, Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) is putting herself in so much jeopardy to keep Cary (Matt Czuchry) out of jail. Every time Kalinda does anything I wonder if this is foreshadowing the way they plan to write her out of the show. The rate she’s going, she could end up in jail herself.

Covert Affairs

Piper Perabo in Covert Affairs

I’m sad to hear that Covert Affairs was canceled by USA. This is a great show with fantastic female parts including Piper Perabo and Kari Matchett as CIA operatives. Personally, I think their ratings fell because they kept the show on Thursday night. The number of quality shows competing for eyeballs on Thursday is through the roof. I’ve been watching 3 or 4 of them on Friday and Saturday, the slate is so full on Thursdays. If they base eyeball counts on live views and not delayed views, their numbers look bad. But that doesn’t mean the fans gave up on the show.

Sarah Shahi Leaving Person of Interest – For Now

Shaw and Root kissing
Shaw finally plants one on Root – right before she sacrifices herself.

Shaw (Sarah Shahi) and Root (Amy Acker) actually kissed on Person of Interest this week. All it took for Shaw to give Root the kiss she’s been wanting was for Shaw to: A) want to save Root, and B) need an excuse to make a grand sacrifice so she could be gone from Person of Interest.

Why be gone? Sarah Shahi is pregnant and needs to leave the show – at least for now. She’s having twins! The decision to end Sarah’s current involvement in the show in this way is explained by executive producers Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plageman in an EW article.

Extra has an interview with Sarah and the cast about her exit.

Brain Dump: A Wife’s Nightmare, Annie, On My Way, Into the Woods

It’s time for a brain dump. My brain is teeming with thoughts about this and that – mostly movies I watched over the holidays. Short thoughts. Thoughts so short that combining them into one post seems like a grand idea.

A Wife’s Nightmare

Jennifer Beals in "A Wife's Nightmare"
Jennifer Beals

A Wife’s Nightmare gave us a Jennifer Beals who was unsure, compliant, nervous, and worried. The gaslighting part of the story was a new acting challenge for Jennifer Beals and she did it very well. I was happy she found her way to some backbone by the end of the story, however. Jennifer Beals is always a pleasure to watch.

Annie

dancing and singing on a rooftop
Rose Byrne and Quvenzhané Wallis in Annie

Annie is a wonderful update to the familiar story. The new songs were perfect contemporary music. The cast was excellent, particularly Quvenzhané Wallis. Hat tips to older versions of the story were well done.

I had the pleasure of going to the movie with a friend and her two grandchildren who danced in their seats and sang along. Afterwards they agreed that the movie was really good. These two biracial youngsters – ages 3 and 6 – wanted their hair freshly washed for the movie so it would look like “Annie hair.” The importance they placed on looking like Annie reminded me again how critical it is that we see someone who looks like ourselves represented on screens as smart, successful, talented, and worthwhile human beings.

On My Way

Catherine Deneuve and Nemo Schiffman in On My Way
Catherine Deneuve and Nemo Schiffman in On My Way

On My Way (French title Elle s’en va) is a French film with English subtitles I found on Netflix. Catherine Deneuve is the star, which is what caught my interest. It has 4 stars on Netflix, always a good indicator it’s worth watching. Catherine Deneuve is 71; she’s put on some weight. But whatever it was she had – she’s still got it. She’s still got ALL of it.

Into the Woods

Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods
Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods

When you start with talent like Stephen Sondheim and Rob Marshall, add in a screenplay by James Lapine, and cast fantastic people like Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt as the players – well, you end up with something utterly brilliant. That is all I have to say: brilliant.

Annie photo ©Sony Pictures. Into the Woods photo ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.