Watch This: Trailer for Custody with Viola Davis

Lifetime TV’s Custody premiers March 4th. It has an outstanding cast including Viola Davis as a NYC family court judge, Hayden Panettiere as a lawyer, and Catalina Sandino Moreno as a mom who may lose her kids. Continue reading “Watch This: Trailer for Custody with Viola Davis”

Two Momentous Cast Members Join Nashville on CMT

Moving Nashville to CMT brought out even more of the bold in this country music series. Stars Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere will be joined by Jen Richards and Rhiannon Giddens for the 5th season beginning Jan. 5, 2017. Continue reading “Two Momentous Cast Members Join Nashville on CMT”

Watch This: Nashville Teaser from CMT

I was thrilled when Nashville found a new network so it could carry on for a 5th season. I’ve been a fan of this show from the first – dragged in by a love of Connie Britton, and held in by the other great characters and the music. Continue reading “Watch This: Nashville Teaser from CMT”

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?

Nashville: Hayden Panettiere Evolves in a Good Way

Last night’s episode of Nashville, “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right” finally showed the very long evolution of Juliette Barnes, played by Hayden Panettiere, in a light that makes her a more likable character.

For a long while, Juliette Barnes has been the antagonist, the bad girl we love to hate. At the same time, we’ve peered into her troubled and broken life, her drug-addicted mother, her penchant for choosing the wrong men, her desire to achieve success with her music. The way she’s dealt with all those issues hasn’t always endeared her to us.

The precipitating plot that drove this evolution of Juliette Barnes went like this. She said something that was video edited to put her in a bad light. The video went viral and her fans, her label, and everyone else turned against her. Concerts were cancelled, CD sales tanked. She was maligned by bad media.

In the midst of this media storm, she is inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. Her label insists that she use her moment on the stage accepting her award to apologize to everyone on the planet for being a terrible person.

Instead she writes a new song with Deacon (Charles Esten) that tells everyone on the planet they can shove it.

It’s a move that could wreck her career. As soon as she walks off the stage her label drops her. People with the power to move products decide to deny her shelf space in stores. Nevertheless, it was a great move from my point of view.

In past episodes, Juliette has struggled to be independent, to make the kind of music she wants, to direct her own life and career. She hasn’t done it well. She made a lot of bad decisions and alienated a lot of people. In all her efforts to grow up and take control of her own destiny she’s mis-stepped and manipulated in all the wrong ways.

Her statement with the song did two things. It proved her talent. It told everyone they had to take her as she is, that she had to be what she is and not something manufactured. Her refusal to cave to the demands of her label ultimately set her free. As far as picking the right man, she’s still working on that one, but a character can’t solve ALL her problems in one episode.

Her character arc can develop now in new, more positive ways.

Kudos to Hayden Panettiere for her willingness to play that character we all love to hate for two seasons. Kudos to writer Callie Khouri for the way she’s slowly moved Juliette being into a better, stronger person.

Photo by Mark Levine – © 2013 American Broadcasting Companies

3 Top Shows From the Fall TV Season

What if you picked the top 3 shows from the fall season that you were the most excited about, the most eager to see, and most wanted to recommend and talk about? That’s the question I asked myself. Here is my answer.

Last Tango in Halifax

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

Choice number 1, and an all time favorite, is Last Tango in Halifax. This BBC series was shown in the U.S. on PBS.org, where you can still watch all six episodes of season 1.

Last Tango in Halifax is built around Alan (Derek Jacobi) and Celia (Anne Reid). They were in love as teens, and probably should have married but did not because of an interesting plot twist. Sixty years later they find each other again via Facebook. They realize they are still in love and decide to get married. Their story by itself is warm and wonderful and a real treat.

We get more story than just an adventurous Alan and Celia from Last Tango in Halifax, however. The children and grandchildren of these two charming, Facebook using elders get into the mix.

Celia’s daughter Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) is headmistress of a school. She’s brilliant and snotty and sarcastic and positively luminous. Her husband of 18 years (Tony Gardner) recently ran off with another woman. In his absence, Caroline began a relationship with another teacher at her school, a woman named Kate (Nina Sosanya). When the series opens, Caroline has yet to tell anyone in her family that she’s seeing a woman. Her coming out affects each person differently and causes mayhem in several episodes. Caroline, her two sons, and Celia live in a big house with a cottage for Celia. As the season begins, Caroline’s husband arrives and wants to come back home.

Alan’s daughter Gillian (Nicola Walker) is a farmer in Halifax. She’s been a widow for 10 years and runs the farm on her own. Alan and Gillian’s teen aged son live on the farm with her. She builds rock walls, drives tractors, replaces clutches and generally is the perfect self-sufficient woman. Well, except for her habit of choosing inappropriate sex partners like 20 year old boy toys of questionable character who are already engaged to someone else. Gillian’s sexual choices cause mayhem in every episode.

The love stories of this extended group of northern England’s most engaging characters are riveting and often run parallel as everyone in both families gets a second chance at love. The best part? They are already filming season 2.

Nashville

Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere in Nashville
Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere in Nashville. Image from ABC TV.

Give me music and I’ll love you. My favorite episode of Grey’s Anatomy? The musical one. My favorite episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? The musical one. I love Glee and Smash (is that even still on?) and I love Nashville.

I’m also pretty darn big on Connie Britton, and she’s the star of this drama, playing country music legend Rayna Jaymes. Connie Britton isn’t a great singer, but she’s good enough. Hayden Panettiere (who is a very good singer) plays Juliette Barnes, a young country star who is trying to unseat Rayna from her throne as the queen of country. There is plenty of  musical talent on this show from many other characters. A special favorite is Clare Bowen, who plays Scarlett O’Connor, and possesses a wonderful voice. Lots of guys with guitars and big hats fill out the singing contingent. Rayna’s family is into politics so there’s political drama along with all the music industry goings-on. Rayna and Juliette both have rather messy love lives, further adding to the weekly drama.

I love the music, I love the characters (even Juliette, who we are supposed to hate) and I love the soapy melodrama of Nashville.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast.
Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast. Image ABC TV

I am so not the target demographic for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I love it anyway. I mostly love it because it reflects Joss Whedon’s sensibility about what makes a good story. That means that the gender balance is perfection, the women are as powerful and smart as the men and no concept is too ridiculous a stretch of science fiction to entertain.

I happen to believe that we need more geeky female role models for young girls (who are part of the target demographic for this show). Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a female jet pilot warrior commando, a female scientist, and a female hacker. Role models everywhere.

These are the 3 shows I get the most excited about seeing each week from this year’s fall TV season. What are your three?

NOTE: This post was syndicated on BlogHer.com.

New TV season shows I can’t wait to see

The summer shows are fun and I love quite a few of them, but I’m eager for the new seasons of some old favorites. Here’s what I’m looking forward to. What about you?

Lost Girl

Season 4 can’t get here soon enough for me. It airs first in Canada on Showcase beginning in November. Then there’s an agonizing wait for the U.S. showings on SyFy. At the end of season 3, Bo was off somewhere unknown meeting her father – maybe. Dyson and Tamsin disappeared in a puff of black smoke when their truck went over a cliff. Lauren was in a science lab creating Fae from humans and nobody knew where she went after everyone else escaped. Kenzi was driving a hot car with Bruce beside her. Trick had gone to Scotland with his lady love. And where the heck was Hale? Obviously the beginning of season 4 requires explaining where everyone has been and how they all get back together.

Guest stars that have been mentioned for season 4 include George Takei (from Star Trek), Mia Kirshner (from The L Word), and Ali Liebert (from Bomb Girls). If the guest stars are any indication, things should be fun on Lost Girl.

Here’s a bit of a teaser for season 4. Lost Girl season 4 is currently filming in Toronto.

House of Cards

House of Cards was Netflix first attempt at original programming and it was superb! (I can’t wait for season 2 of Netflix’s other great series, Orange is the New Black, either.) House of Cards won’t show up until sometime in the spring of 2014, but it is definitely worth the wait if it maintains the quality it had in season 1.

This political drama felt completely real. Or if not real, at least valid and true. Stars Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, and Kate Mara were especially good, but the cast was large and there were many compelling performances.

Netflix released this trailer for season 2, which is currently filming in the Baltimore area.

Nashville

Nashville season 2 begins in September 25 on ABC, less than a month away. I love anything with singing (Glee, Smash, Nashville – I’ll watch ’em all.) People we don’t normally think of as musicians are leading the cast of this show and doing a really fine job as Nashville singing stars: Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere, and Charles Esten in particular. Clare Bowen is my favorite in terms of singing. She plays Scarlett, a folky type who reminds me of Emmy Lou Harris.

A theme of the show has been the conflict between young and old country music, personified by Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton. They get forced together in ways they don’t want and are very different. Both have confused personal lives and troubled love lives. A troubled love life leads to the finale of season 1, which was a disastrous car wreck.

I don’t know if you were a fan of Friday Night Lights (if you weren’t, you should have been) but there is just something completely wonderful about Connie Britton. She’s fabulous. I’m so glad we get to see her in another great series – with SINGING.

Here’s a teaser for season 2.

Grey’s Anatomy

Season 10. Can you believe it? We’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy since Shonda Rhimes only had one show on TV. They announced recently that Sandra Oh is leaving the show. What will Meredith do without her person?

The new season begins in September with a 2 part opening episode. At the end of season 9, Arizona and Callie were in danger of breaking up, Richard was possibly electrocuted, Meredith was pregnant – the usual Grey’s drama. Over the years Grey’s has had its wins and losses, people have come and gone, story lines have succeeded and failed. But it’s always been engaging and I keep going back.

I couldn’t find an actual preview video for season 10, but three of the cast members do talk about season 10 in this video.

The Good Wife

I say that I want to see the new season of The Good Wife with some trepidation. Season 4 wasn’t good. They lost their way a bit. There were fabulous guest stars, but those guest stars got too much of the screen time, there were too many court room scenes, Kalinda’s (Archie Panjabi) story was just dropped, and Alicia (Julianna Margulies) can’t figure out what the holy hell she’s doing. I think Alicia is fascinating in her own guarded and self-contained way. However, the queen of self-contained and guarded is Kalinda. She is the most interesting character in The Good Wife. If we don’t see more of her in season 5, I think it’s going to be the end for me and The Good Wife.

When season 4 ended, Alicia was leaving Lockhart Gardner to start a new firm with Cary. That will add some drama to the relationships we already have going on the show. We don’t know where Kalinda will end up – I sincerely hope it’s with Alicia and Cary, but there haven’t been any clues.

The new season starts in September. Here’s a teaser. It seems to acknowledge that the show went off the rails a bit in season 4 with its claims to be back.

Scandal

Scandal, like House of Cards, has a ring of truth about politics and Washington that makes it fascinating. This Shonda Rhimes series begins in September with season 3.

I could talk about Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn and the other excellent cast members. They deserve the attention. Instead, I want to make a big fuss over Guillermo Díaz.

Guillermo Díaz has been around a while. You may remember him from Mercy or Weeds. There are currently 78 titles on his filmography page at IMDB, so I know you’ve seen him before in more than one thing. But the job he’s doing as Huck on Scandal is phenomenally outstanding. He should have had an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor, but he didn’t get one. As a defender of justice I’m here to announce that Guillermo Díaz is doing amazing work on Scandal and he should get a million awards for acting.

Now that I’m finished with my Guillermo Díaz rant, I can get back to the bigger picture on Scandal, which is the steely and powerful Olivia Pope and her Machiavellian schemes to control situations for people in Washington who screw up, including the President. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.

This promo video is more about Kerry Washington’s Emmy nom than season 3, but it’s the only thing available right now.

I haven’t even mentioned The Walking Dead or How I Met Your Mother, which is on its last season, or Elementary, or Castle or a whole lot of other good shows. Which of your favorites are you most eager to see?

Guillermo Diaz image from The Jasmine Brand.