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”

Brain Dump: Thursday Nights on ABC

I haven’t done a brain dump in a while. My definition of a brain dump is sharing a few thoughts about several things at once. This time it’s Thursday night on ABC with Grey’s Anatomy, Notorious and How to Get Away with Murder on my mind. Continue reading “Brain Dump: Thursday Nights on ABC”

Review: Lila and Eve

Lila and Eve stars Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez. I wanted so much to absolutely love it because of the two stars. How often do you get to see a film with Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez as the lead characters? Or any women of color?

Despite the performances of the two leads, the film itself was on the weak side. I wanted it to be great. It wasn’t. Continue reading “Review: Lila and Eve”

Actors on Actors -UPDATED

Variety has created a series of conversations called “Actors on Actors” that are fascinating discussions between peers. Most of them are a man and a woman. I picked these three to include here because both the conversationalists are women, but don’t overlook the others at Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.

The women’s conversations are about art and craft and fame and the meaning of success.

 

 

UPDATE: Here’s another that just published with two women in conversation.

Brain Dump: The Good Wife, Madam Secretary, How to Get Away with Murder, The Walking Dead

It’s time for another brain dump. These are quick hits on this and that.

The Good Wife

Linda Lavin
Linda Lavin

Linda Lavin has been on The Good Wife lately. Her character is part of the plot line to put Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry) in jail. Lavin created a most particular character. She uses exacting quirks to make her character stand out in a show filled with peculiar and unusual characters. Kudos to Linda Lavin on her performance! It’s masterful.

Speaking of unusual characters, Carrie Preston’s marvelous character Elsbeth Tascioni is involved in a sex scene in the “Old Spice” episode of season 6. Elsbeth and Josh Perotti (Kyle MacLachlan) have sex on the desk in Elsbeth’s office. It’s a true bodice ripper in the trashy romance novel style. Delightful!

Archie Panjabi
Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma

Did you see the announcement that Archie Panjabi will be leaving The Good Wife at the end of season 6? Kalinda Sharma is my favorite part of The Good Wife. I’m sad about the announcement. On the other hand, Kalinda has never been used enough. My hope is Archie Panjabi will find her way to a show where she plays the lead! #GiveArchieHerOwnShow

Madam Secretary

Téa Leoni as Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord is wonderful. Leoni plays her as unflappably calm, grounded, brilliant, bold, funny, and a great reader of character. All the players around her are outstanding as well, particularly Bebe Neuwirth.

Much as I love Elizabeth McCord as a character, the stories aren’t always believably realistic. Like Buffy, McCord saves the world in every episode. She does it by defying the advice of all her advisers and the POTUS. As an American who feels the system is broken, it’s nice to root for someone who does everything outside the system. Rah, rah, Elizabeth McCord! It’s great TV, but if the Secretary of State could save the world all by herself, Hillary Clinton would have done it already.

I like how much Tim Daly gets to do in Madam Secretary. If this show had a male lead, the pretty wife would be tucked away in the background and used occasionally to show that the hero is straight. But Tim Daly as the husband isn’t tucked in the background, nor are McCord’s 3 children. Daly gets real plot lines of his own. Each child has an individual personality, too, they aren’t merely bodies crunching cereal around the breakfast table in the morning. This may be because of Tim Daly’s pull as a big name, or it may be because the chief writer on the show is a woman – Barbara Hall.

How to Get Away with Murder

I’m struggling with the non-linear style of storytelling on How to Get Away with Murder. It’s meant to build suspense – it is. It’s meant to keep you coming back – but at least in my case, it’s just irritating me. I’m still watching, so obviously I’m not irritated beyond the point of hanging around. But still.

Viola Davis in How To Get Away with Murder
Viola Davis in How To Get Away with Murder

I do want to mention how much I loved the scene in which Viola Davis removes her wig and all her make up. Then she turns to her husband and says, “Why is your penis on a dead girls phone?” BAM! BAM! What a pair of moments.

The Walking Dead

A tweet from Kate Moennig caught my eye. I think she’s referring to the cannibalism scenes.

I agree with Kate Moennig, the cannibals were extra gross. Actually, The Walking Dead is gross as a standard thing. In the same episode with the cannibals, “Four Walls and a Roof,” there was also a cowardly priest (Seth Gilliam). The priest locked himself in his church with a big supply of food and listened as his parishioners clawed at the door when the zombies came for dinner.

Between the cannibals and cowardly priest, I find more metaphoric fodder in the priest. Everything about The Walking Dead is a metaphor, of course. This one priest could stand in for every kind of horror and evil ever perpetrated in the name of religion. The Crusades, the notion that there’s no God but God, the Westboro Baptist Church, or dozens of other examples of evil done by religious leaders – pick your metaphor and make it work. Will Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the gang leave him alive when they move on?

How are we Feeling about How to Get Away with Murder?

We’ve seen 2 episodes of How to Get Away with Murder now. How are we feeling about it? I’ll share my reactions and I hope you’ll leave a comment to share what you think.

Viola Davis as Annalise Keating
Viola Davis as Annalise Keating

First, I want Viola Davis as Annalise Keating to carry this show to the top. I want another show with an African American lead actress to make it! Big time. Viola Davis is completely awesome – talented, brilliant, and way overdue to become a household favorite.

Aja Naomi King as Michaela Pratt
Aja Naomi King as Michaela Pratt

Second, I got attached to Aja Naomi King on Emily Owens, M.D. I loved seeing her again in Black Box and I’m still delighted by her in How to Get Away with Murder. She has the potential to be the lead on her own show one of these days, and I’m happily watching her progress until then.

Matt McGorry as Asher Millstone
Matt McGorry as Asher Millstone

Third, Matt McGorry managed to make his character on Orange is the New Black moderately likeable in a show where most of the men are assholes. I’m delighted to be watching him in something else as a different character.

Those are my fangirl reasons for liking How to Get Away with Murder. I do like other things about it.

I like the classroom scenes where Annalise Keating is a leader, in charge. I also like that we’ve seen her vulnerable and crying. I loved the vulnerability in episode 1. She was having a sexy extra-marital affair with a handsome hunk, so she’s not perfect.

On the other hand, in episode 2 I thought her vulnerability made her seem weak. She was jealous of her husband, then laid claim to him as a sexual conquest. At the same time she was clingy and whiny with the boyfriend. Her character seems wobbly and all over the place.

I like the diverse cast, both among the students and the other characters. There is gender balance and racial diversity. I like that one of the characters is gay – Conner (Jack Falahee). The way Annalise’s assistant Bonnie (Liza Wein) looks at her is a bit of mystery right now. She might be in love with Annalise or she might be in love with Annalise’s husband (Tom Verica). Either way, it’s interesting.

Unfortunately, there are some things I’m having trouble with.

I’m having trouble with the non-linear storytelling. The flash forward to the favorite 4 law students disposing of a body that seems to be Annalise’s husband. What the students are doing with the body is so illogical it seems like a game. The flash backs seem out of order themselves. When was Annalise whining outside the boyfriend’s house? When was Wes’ upstairs neighbor arrested? Where did the murdered girl found in the water tank fit in? I hope it all starts to make sense because right now I’m confused.

There’s confused in a good way. Why do all these women on Orphan Black look alike? I’m dying to know. Then there’s confused in a bad way. Under the Dome makes to sci-fi or religious sense. Why am I still watching?

I don’t want this show to lose me because I can’t follow the story line and get disgusted and quit. I really want this show to make it. I’m rooting for it. I’ll be there for episode 3 with my fingers crossed in hopes it begins to make more sense and I can begin to understand Annalise more clearly.

What have you thought of How to Get Away with Murder?

All photos: © 2014 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

Shondaland Thursday, AKA Rhimesday, is Coming Soon to Your TV

Let me count the ways that Thursday nights, AKA Rhimesday nights, are going to be amazing when the fall TV season begins.

  1. Shonda Rhimes
  2. Ellen Pompeo and Chandra Wilson and Sara Ramirez and Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew and more
  3. Kerry Washington
  4. Viola Davis

That’s 3 solid hours of women lead drama from Shondaland productions. That’s a night for television, my friends. May I celebrate the fact that two of those leading actresses are women of color? Yes!

What Shondaland will Cause on Rhimesday Nights

On Thursday nights real life will stop. The only things operating in the void will be televisions tuned to ABC and eleventy million tweets about every move on ABC for 3 solid hours.

Those fat cat white male dudes who run ABC and Twitter should be bowing before Shonda Rhimes. Bowing.

Here’s a little preview from Shondaland of where we might be going with Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder.

Watch This: Trailer for The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them releases in September. The film stars James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain in a love story with a twist. It’s told from different perspectives in three versions. There is his perspective, her perspective and their perspective, to create three totally different films. The films are directed and written by Ned Benson. It’s Benson’s directorial debut. A bold move for a debut.

The trailer shows how the Them version works, with slightly different versions of each event mashed together. The versions for him and her will be released about 6 weeks after the Them version. The story is about the couple played by McAvoy and Chastain, who are married, but their relationship is strained by a recent tragedy.

The film also stars Bill Hader, Viola Davis, and William Hurt.

Upcoming TV Series with Female Leads

New TV series in the works with women in the lead or co-lead roles look very good. Some start as soon as summer, some are scheduled for fall.

Starting in June on TNT is Murder in the First, which stars Teye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson. Kathleen Robertson may not continue throughout the series as lead, because she’s only in 7 of the 9 episodes that comprise the first season, but it’s worth checking out. Murder in the First is a Steven Bochco production. Bochco has a long string of successful police dramas behind him, including NYPD Blue, Hill Street Blues, and LA Law.

Also coming to TNT, but not until fall or possibly 2015 is the new Jennifer Beals supernatural medical drama Proof. Proof also stars Matthew Modine and Joe Morton. The series is produced by Kyra Sedgwick. Of everything that’s coming, and a lot of it looks really good, I’m very excited about seeing Jennifer Beals back on my TV every week.

Jennifer seems excited about working with Matthew Modine.

TNT announced casting Julia Stiles in a legal drama called Guilt by Association but I haven’t seen any follow up news about the pilot being picked up.

Red Band Society

Red Band Society is a remake of a Spanish series. Octavia Spencer leads the cast of this tale about teenagers living in a pediatric wing of a hospital. It will be on Fox.

Taraji P Hanson

Fox also scheduled Empire starring Taraji P. Hanson and Terrance Howard. This series is about a family who runs a hip hop empire. The music is supposed to be excellent, if you’re a hip hop fan. The show is by Lee Daniels and features many well-known African American actors including Gabourey Sidibe.

Another new show with a woman of color in the lead is Shonda Rhimes new drama, How to Get Away with Murder. Viola Davis will star in this legal thriller as a criminal defense professor who gets tangled up in a murder plot. Anything Shonda Rhimes does is going to make a big impression. This one should be a hit for ABC for sure.

State of Affairs

NBC brings us State of Affairs starring Katherine Heigl as a CIA Agent who reports to the U.S. President. The President is Alfre Woodard, who is one of my all-time favorites. These two should be fabulous together.

Anna Friel

Another political drama on NBC is Odyssey. It stars Anna Friel as a soldier. Odyssey is described as a sprawling international conspiracy that ties together three very different characters – a female soldier, a corporate lawyer and a young political activist. The other two characters in this threesome are played by Peter Facinelli and Jake Robinson.

TV is where women are making a mark these days, and these upcoming shows are part of that trend. Do any of these shows look especially interesting to you? What are you planning to watch? Did I miss anything new with a female lead?