Review: In the Valley of Elah

In the Valley of Elah from 2007 is a searing condemnation of the war in Iraq. The story is a mystery about a father and a cop who investigate the son’s murder just outside a mythical Army base in New Mexico.  Continue reading “Review: In the Valley of Elah”

Quantico: The First 8 Minutes Offers a Look at Priyanka Chopra, an Exciting New Star

I’ve been ready to watch Quantico from the first preview because of the interesting lead actress, Priyanka Chopra, playing Alex Parrish. Now that ABC released a teaser showing the first 8 minutes, I’m even more sure I’m going to love this show. It’s about a class of recruits heading for the FBI Academy to learn to be agents.

The series begins on ABC on September 27. Star Priyanka Chopra is a former Miss World, a huge Hindi films success in her home country, and winner of a National Film Award — the equivalent of an Oscar — for Best Actress. She can sing, too. She lived in the U.S. with an aunt during her high school days, and recorded music at that time.

Quantico is Chopra’s first step into the American market as an actress. I predict great success for her here. She’s gorgeous, she’s talented – she’s a winner. She told The New York Times, “After being in movies for 13 years in India, I’m suddenly a debutante all over again. I’m scared and nervous — petrified, actually.”

Female FBI recruits played by Johanna Braddy, Yasmine Al Massri, and Priyanka Chopra
Female FBI recruits played by Johanna Braddy, Yasmine Al Massri, and Priyanka Chopra

She’s not the only thing Quantico has going for it. I’m sure you noticed other interesting characters in that 8 minute clip. Jake McLaughlin plays Ryan who never learned how to shave, Yasmine Al Massri is Nimah, Johanna Braddy is Shelby, Tate Ellington is Simon, Graham Rogers is Caleb, Anabelle Acosta is Nathalie, and Aunjanue Ellis is Miranda Shaw, one of the FBI trainers on the stage. Brian J. Smith is in this clip, but it looks like he doesn’t make it past the first episode, if IMDB has the correct information the number of episodes in which each actor appears.

ABC wanted Priyanka Chopra for something. They didn’t know what, exactly, but were willing to keep trying until they found the right show for her. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Chopra said ABC sent her 26 scripts before she picked Quantico. She didn’t want to be in a box labeled “Indian.” She commented, “ABC was sure they would find the right fit for me, and I think Quantico is. It’s me as an actor. Alex wasn’t written for someone with my ethnicity, but I am Indian in the show, so I’ve been rooted with my culture in the show, but that’s not what the show is about.” Chopra describes her character on the show as a female Jason Borne, smart and tough, but also feminine.

The series doesn’t waste a second getting Alex into hot water. She’s the FBI trainee suspected of masterminding the biggest attack on New York since September 11. I’m already rooting for her to get herself out of this mess, Jason Borne style.

A diverse cast, several leading parts for women, a high stakes story promising lots of action: all that adds up to an appealing season for Quantico. Will you be watching?

[Note: This post was syndicated at BlogHer in a slightly different form.]

Trailers for New TV Series with Women Leads

There are a number of TV shows being announced now. Some star women in leading roles, some have more than one woman out in front, and some even boast women of a color other than white. Let’s have a look at them.

Supergirl

Supergirl begins this fall on CBS. We’ve been given a rather lengthy first look at the series. We may be able to skip ahead to the second episode, this trailer tells so much. As a bonus, if we start the season with episode 2, the whole wardrobe problem will be solved.

Melissa Benoist is Supergirl. Chyler Leigh plays her sister Alex. Mehcad Brooks is Jimmy (sorry, James) Olsen. Calista Flockhart plays Supergirl’s boss. The boss is some kind of horrible parody on every bitchy boss ever imagined by a male writer since the beginning of the Planet Krypton. (Really, fellas, can’t anyone do better than that?)

I’ve mentioned Supergirl a couple of times previously on this blog, if you want more in depth details check out Big Casting News for Supergirl and Brain Dump: Supergirl, Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Blacklist.

So here she is, the female superhero we’ve long awaited. If I were inclined to mangle famous poems, I might say,

so much depends
upon

a red skirt
with cape

glazed with pop
culture

beside the endless
patriarchy.

The Catch

Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers are behind The Catch, which was created by Jennifer Schuur. This is a thriller centered on the brilliant Alice Martin (Mireille Enos). She’s a fraud investigator who’s about to be the victim of fraud herself. It sounds like a season long hunt for the bad guy, mixed in with other cases.

The Catch also stars Alimi Ballard as Evan, Damon Dayoub, Jay Hayden, Jacky Ido, Bethany Joy Lenz, Rose Rollins and Elvy Yost. Props to The Catch – although the star is white, there is ample diversity in the rest of the cast.

Although Mareille Enos is capable of super intense acting, I’m most looking forward to seeing Rose Rollins on my TV again.

Quantico

I think Quantico is going to take the lead on diversity. The main character is played by Priyanka Chopra, an award winning veteran of a number of Indian films. Aunjanue Ellis also has top billing on this FBI story. The plot centers around a number of recruits at the FBI training center in Quantico. Jake McLaughlin plays Ryan Booth.

Of all the previews shown in this post, I like this one the best simply because of the diversity issue. But why is there only one show like this? (I’ll mention Proof later, it helps.)

Blindspot

Blindspot is going to be one of those season long searches for the truth like Blacklist or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. It’s about a woman who “wakes up” with no memory of her past life. She’s completely covered with fresh tattoos.

Jaimie Alexander stars as Jane Doe, with Ashley Johnson and Sullivan Stapleton backing her up in this tale about a vast international conspiracy.

Heartbreaker

Heartbreaker is a medical drama starring Melissa George. Other doctors surrounding the brilliant heart surgeon are played by Dave Annable, Don Hany, Shelley Conn and D.L. Hughley.

Jill Gordon and Amy Brenneman are among the producers for Heartbreaker.

Angel from Hell

Angel from Hell starts on CBS this fall. Jane Lynch looks happy about it, judging from her Twitter feed.

The show will be on Thursday evenings, a tough slot for any show of interest to women, especially a half hour comedy. It stars Jane Lynch, Maggie Lawson, Kevin Pollak and Kyle Bornheimer. Other information is a little skimpy at this point, but the only names I can find for writers and directors are male names.

Angel from Hell doesn’t premier until November, so there will be plenty of time to fill in the details.

I love that wild hair on Jane Lynch. Perfect.

Elsewhere on Old Ain’t Dead

There are other female-led series I’ve talked about before on the blog. If you missed those posts, here they are.

I don’t think this is a complete list of the new shows with female leads, but it gives you some female-led shows to consider for your next few months of TV watching.

The Diversity Countdown

Looking just at the starring role in these women’s series, how do we stack up on diversity?

We have

  • Melissa Benoist
  • Mireille Enos
  • Priyanka Chopra
  • Jaimie Alexander
  • Melissa George
  • Jane Lynch
  • Jennifer Beals
  • Dark Matter names the men first, so I’m not listing anyone from it
  • Emma Ishta

I’d say that is a less than outstanding rundown if you’re counting diversity points.

It’s not that I don’t want Melissa Benoist or Jaimie Alexander or the other white women on the list to have great parts. I do. Lots of great parts. I also want lots of great parts for the rest of the female human race.