Killing Off the Good Guys on Scandal and Lost Girl

On Scandal, Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry) had one good thing: his husband James (Dan Bucatinsky). James represented love, conscience, family. Cyrus is ruthless and corrupt and capable of any betrayal or nefarious power grab. James still believes in justice and good.

Cyrus and James
Cyrus and James

Cyrus’s corruption finally leads to a situation that gets James killed.

On Lost Girl, Bo Dennis (Anna Silk) has one pure relationship: her sidekick Kenzi (Ksenia Solo). Kenzi is the sister she never had, the friend she relies on, the person she loves without reservation.

No words needed
Kenzi hugs Bo

A crisis prompts Kenzi to sacrifice herself to save the world. Like Buffy diving into a ball of light, Kenzi steps into the light and is taken. On BtVS, Buffy was retrieved from the netherworld by her friends. Will Kenzi be? As in BtVS, there is supposed to be a way to do this in the sci-fi world of Lost Girl.

There’s no hope for getting James back on Scandal. This drama is about real life, not science fiction, and when people die they are just gone.

On Scandal, Cyrus may come through his loss a better man. If I were Shonda Rhimes, I would write this in a way that Cyrus develops a moral compass as a result of losing James. It would certainly cause a lot of drama in the White House if Cyrus developed a conscience. After James’ murder, Olivia Pope herself (Kerry Washington) was even talking about her desire for at least one good person, one person in a white hat, in the morass of evil portrayed on Scandal.

On Lost Girl, I don’t see a way that the writers can use the loss of Kenzi to create character evolution in Bo or any other character. Kenzi is integral to everything Bo does. I cannot imagine how Bo can even continue to be Bo without Kenzi. It’s like Batman without Robin, Sherlock Holmes without Dr. Watson, Don Quixote without Sancho Panza, Buffy without Willow.

Because of that, I think Lost Girl will write Kenzi back into the story somehow. But here’s my problem. When they announced the cast returning for season 5, Ksenia Solo was not listed. This announcement makes me nervous.

Lost Girl played with the fans throughout all of season 4 using red herrings and secrecy. Is the absence of Ksenia Solo’s name in the returning cast another game, another secret, another mystery? If so, does that mean she will be back and they just want to keep it secret to drive us crazy? They certainly enjoyed driving us crazy for all of season 4. Then there’s the very important fact that no one from the show – not even Ksenia Solo herself – has said a word about Kenzi in season 5.

We usually know when people are really leaving. We know K.C. Collins really left Lost Girl. We know Sandra Oh is leaving Grey’s Anatomy. Announcements get made. There’s no official announcement about Ksenia Solo and Lost Girl parting ways.

Do you think Kenzi will be back?

A Quick Note on The Good Wife

I wrote this post before last night’s episode of The Good Wife, which took me completely by surprise and will be all over the news today. If you have any comments about how they handled Josh Charles leaving the cast of The Good Wife, feel free to include them in this discussion.

Here are a couple of articles in The Hollywood Reporter to fill you in with details on The Good Wife.

The Josh Charles story is a little different from Dan Bucatinsky leaving Scandal and Ksenia Solo possibly being done with Lost Girl because he was one of the lead characters, not a supporting character.

Watch This Film: They Wore Pink

Here’s a Friday treat to start your weekend off right. Watch an entire short film.

The short film They Wore Pink is from Canadian writer and director Terry Miles. He’s the writer/director responsible for A Night for Dying Tigers and Cinemanovels.

The two stars of this short film were also in Miles’ other films: Lauren Lee Smith and Tygh Runyan.

I love the slow way Terry Miles tells a story. Even in a nine minute movie, he manages to hold on to things and unpeel them in unique ways.

If you want to see how masterful Miles is at writing, directing and even editing be sure to watch A Night for Dying Tigers. It’s beautifully told – complicated, intricate, and detailed – and the editing choices in it are something I’ve never seen anywhere else.

This short film is a microcosm of his talents.

Here is the complete film.

On Twitter, Terry Miles is @tkmiles, Lauren Lee Smith is @L_L_S and Tygh Runyan is @RunyanTygh.

Brain Dump from a Teeming TV Filled Mind

Random thoughts and observations on this and that as seen on my teevee.

The Walking Dead

Did you see the episode of The Walking Dead called “The Grove?” Brighton Sharbino and Kyla Kenedy as the two young girls were fantastic. Brighton, in particular, was 100% convincing. Very impressed to see such outstanding acting from two young actors.

I’m loving what they’ve done with The Walking Dead this season: splitting everyone up and charting their journeys to find each other again. (Assuming that they will be reunited at Terminus.) It’s given them a way to let characters develop with full episodes devoted almost exclusively to just one or two characters.

Glee

Brittany and Santana kiss on Glee
Brittany and Santana kiss on Glee

What about this kiss in the episode “100” of Glee. Glee has never been about grown up sex. Yes, there have been relationships but they are immature high school kinds of things. Even the teachers have immature relationships on Glee.

But in the episode called “100” (as in the 100th episode) we see a grown up Brittany, (Heather Morris) dragged into adulthood by numbers and a failure of joy.

Brittany evolved. Who’d a thunk that?

Couple that with a sort-of-grown-up Santana (Naya Rivera). I say sort of grown up because Santana still has a mouth on her that needs to embrace tolerance and forgiveness – mature ideas she hasn’t mastered yet. Nevertheless, Brittany and Santana exchange a kiss that is the first grown up, adult looking kiss I’ve seen on Glee.

Person of Interest

A whole episode of Person of Interest was built around Root (Amy Acker). The episode was called “Root Path.” Most of the time, Root is only on the screen for a few seconds. Even then she’s the most interesting thing in the show – mysterious, powerful, illusive. You know what would make me really happy? An episode that featured only Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker together for a whole show.

Castle

Is Castle getting better this season? It seems like the writing has improved. The stories are flat out good. Last year Castle frequently put me to sleep, but there is none of that this year.

The Fosters

The crazy adjustable bed that Stef’s mom gave Stef and Lena as a wedding gift on The Fosters is keeping them apart. I say we start a Kickstarter campaign to get Stef and Lena a new bed. A nice flat one. Or, as they put it on OITNB,

The Americans

This show gets more fascinating each week with all kinds of complicated loyalty questions and emotional issues. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys impress me in a new way in every episode. Keri Russell’s character slamming that guy’s arm over and over again with a trunk lid was really intense and surely will make her face the fact that she’s cracking. Plus Margo Martindale was back this week, which is guaranteed to make me happy.

Still ahead this week are Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. Must dump brain before then!

What is burning in your brain from this week’s TV?

Watch This: Season 1 of Orphan Black Recapped

Orphan Black, from BBC America, put together a recap of season one to bring anyone up to date who hasn’t seen it. If you’ve heard the hype about how stunning Tatiana Maslany is in this role as several different people – often shown on the screen together – it’s all true. She is astonishing. Her performance ought to be the dictionary definition of masterful acting.

You definitely want to watch season 2. You definitely do. And if you haven’t seen season 1, go find it and catch up completely because the recap leaves out a few points.

For more about Orphan Black, see The Force That Is Tatiana Maslany.

Preview: Half of a Yellow Sun

One of the greatest living writers, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the author of Half of a Yellow Sun, as well as Purple Hibiscus, and most recently, Americanah. If you have not read her books, I urge you to give them a reading.

Half of a Yellow Sun
Thandie Newton and Anika Noni Rose in Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun has been adapted into a movie. It’s a story set in Nigeria and stars Thandie Newton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anika Noni Rose, Joseph Mawle, and John Boyega.

Half of a Yellow Sun
Chiwetel Ejiofor in Half of a Yellow Sun

The story involves personal relationships and intersection of the personal and the political. The political story deals with the Nigerian civil war that created the Republic of Biafra between 1967 and 1970.

Here is a preview:

The film has not been released on DVD yet and isn’t available on any streaming services at this time. That gives you plenty of time to check out the books by Adichie in preparation for watching the film when it is released for home markets. The film released in the UK, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates in October 2013. The American release is set for July 2014. The film may be called Half a Yellow Sun in some areas.

In an interview with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from AriseEntertainment, the author talks about the film Half of a Yellow Sun and the outstanding cast.

The author drops hints that Lipita Nyong’o might be connected to a future adaptation of Americanah.

As an aside, Adichie just won the US National Critics Book Prize for Americanah.

Images of Half of a Yellow Sun ©Slate films.

Two Stories About Love: Is Dorfman the Warmest Color?

This weekend I watched two movies about love. Both dealt with young women in search of themselves, young women in search of love, young women who had to struggle with loss and with being misunderstood.

One of the films got great reviews and won prestigious awards. One of the films was a bit of a flop.

Now, I know I’m not a film critic, or a critic of any kind. I’m just a person who has been watching movies and TV for a lot of decades. Even though one of the letters on my Myers-Briggs is a J for judging, I am not a judgmental, critical minded person. I’m easy to please where entertainment is concerned.

So when I see two films that are very alike in theme and subject matter, it makes me wonder what sets them apart. Is the quality of the acting? The skill of the director? The originality of the script? I want to come back to this, but first let me explain the two stories I’m talking about.

The two films are Blue is the Warmest Color and Dorfman in Love. If you pay attention to film news, you know that Blue is the Warmest Color is the one that got the great reviews and won awards.

Blue is the Warmest Color

Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux in Blue is the Warmest Color
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux in Blue is the Warmest Color

Blue is the Warmest Color is a French film about a young woman, Adèle, played by Adèle Exarchopoulos. It’s three hours long and covers years of Adèle’s life. She falls in love with Emma, played by Léa Seydoux. Emma is older, artistic, and out. When they meet Adèle is still in high school and not clear about her own sexuality. As the years pass, the two women live together for a while but it isn’t a successful long-term arrangement. For years after they part Adèle continues to long for Emma until she finally comes to terms with their parting and walks away from her past. There are long scenes of explicit sex.

Dorfman in Love

Sarah Rue in Dorfman in Love
Sarah Rue in Dorfman in Love

Dorfman in Love stars Sarah Rue as Deb Dorfman. She is a grown woman who lives with her dad (Elliot Gould) and works in her brother’s (Jonathan Chase) accounting firm. She has a fantasy love attachment to a friend of her brother’s played by Johann Urb. Deb takes care of everyone in her life, especially the three aforementioned men, who do not appreciate anything she does. Then she meets Cookie, played by Haaz Sleiman. With Cookie’s help, she begins to understand who she is and what her true worth is. She is able to leave her past behind. There is no sex in the film but there are a couple of straight kisses.

Who and How Do We Decide on Great?

In terms of acting, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux both do a fantastic job. Especially Adèle Exarchopoulos, who has to age from a naive teen to a responsible adult before our eyes. But the acting in Dorfman in Love was perfectly adequate. The actors weren’t called on to do anything especially intense the way the actors in Blue is the Warmest Color were, but does that mean they didn’t act as well as the two French women in the parts they were given?

The approach of the directors in these two films was very different. Blue is the Warmest Color was full of close-ups, often focused on the two women in minute detail. Dorfman in Love took a much more expansive approach. I found the directing styles suited to the material – they certainly wouldn’t have worked in reverse – but they were perfect for the stories they were telling. One film was a serious examination of a young woman’s maturation and growth, while the other was firmly in the romantic comedy camp of maturation and growth. Is one genre more worthy of success than the other?

Does the intensity of the subject matter, the intensity of the emotion portrayed make one film better than another? Is it the seriousness of the approach vs. the comedic approach? Is it the closed-in focus of one film that makes it better than the more open look of the other – is that somehow more artistic? Does all the daring sex in one make it more weighty?

What I’m getting at here is that secret something that makes one film an international hit and topic of conversation around the globe while the other feels passed over. Somewhere there is a magical line between good and really, really good that these two films exemplify perfectly. But who decides where that magic line is? Critics? Ticket buyers? Award givers? The folks on the living room couch?

And what does that mean to someone who might love Dorfman in Love but finds Blue is the Warmest Color long and tedious? Is that person wrong or someone whose tastes don’t count?

I can’t tell you how many people have told me I should watch Breaking Bad because it’s really, really good. But I cannot bring myself to watch a story about a teacher who sells meth. And I’ve told others they should watch Friday Night Lights because it’s really, really good only to realize they won’t watch a series about football. Is there a right and wrong in this?

I’d really like to know the answers to these questions. I really would.

Watch This: Preview for Bomb Girls Facing the Enemy

The preview for the upcoming Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy that will appear on Canadian Global TV is available now.

I loved the series about women working in a Canadian munitions factory during World War II and am happy about the movie. Not sure when Americans will be able to see it, but I can’t wait.

I reviewed the Bomb Girls story in more depth in this post. It describes the characters and more about the story.

What do you Think of the Summer Pilots?

The other day I mentioned a couple of pilots on TNT that I’m super excited about that star Jennifer Beals and Julia Stiles. The big networks – NBC, CBS, ABC, CW, and FOX – all have a full slate of summer shows lined up. You can see the full list by following the links.

I want to mention the ones that look good to me, the ones that have a female in the leading role, and the ones I think might be worth watching. I’d love to hear what you think about the summer lineup, so speak up in the comments.

There are lots of comic book spinoffs, zombies, and aliens in the schedules. Lots of comedies and a few dramas.

On NBC

A variation on the zombie craze, Babylon Fields will star Virginia Madsen, Meagan Good, Skeet Ulrich, Ritchie Coster, Yul Vazquez and Kyle Schmid.

Debra Messing will lead the cast in a police procedural called Mysteries of Laura. It’s based on a Spanish series. Messing and her husband solve crimes while dealing with their twin sons.

Odyssey has a female soldier at the helm, played by Anna Friel. The plot centers around an international mystery.

Katherine Heigl will join the CIA in State of Affairs. She’s counselor to the President. Maybe she’ll run into Olivia Pope in D.C.

NBC has a ton of new comedies. The most interesting one stars Natasha Lyonne and is called Old Soul. I’ve mentioned this one before.

Another comedy that looks promising is produced by Ellen DeGeneres. One Big Happy is about a gay woman (Elisha Cuthbert) and her straight best friend (Nick Zano), who decide to have a baby together.

On CBS

Tea Leoni will be the Secretary of State in Madam Secretary. Morgan Freeman is producing this one. Tim Daly, Geoffrey Arend, Patina Miller, Erich Bergen and Katherine Herzer will also star.

Patricia Arquette will star in an as-yet-unnamed CSI spinoff. It sounds very high tech in concept, rather like the current show Intelligence because it involves a lot of cyber security. But I don’t think any of the FBI agents in this show have chips in their brains.

Jamie Lee Curtis is a hospital administrator whose four children – quadruplets – all work at the hospital. Oh, and the children grew up on a reality show. This show doesn’t have a name yet either.

On ABC

Danish series have been adapted for American TV with great success. Jennifer Carpenter will be in Sea of Fire, another Danish adaptation. This one is an FBI story.

Warriors will be a medical drama. The cast includes Morena Baccarin, Don Hany, Courtney B. Vance, Justina Machado, Greg Grunberg, Steve Kazee, Hampton Fluker, Abbie Cobb and Eloise Mumford.

On FOX

Cabot College is a comedy produced by Tina Fey. A show can’t get much more promising than that.  Margaret Cho, Fortune Feimster, Bonnie Dennison, Ely Henry, Asif Ali, Jack Cutmore-Scott and Brandon Jones will star.

On the CW

I don’t see anything that tempts me on this network.

Again, you can see the full lineup of summer shows here: NBC, CBS, ABC, CW, and FOX. I’d love to hear what you think about the ones I consider hopeful, or if you see something else that didn’t catch my eye that looks really good to you.

Review: Adore

The poster for the movie Adore
The poster for the movie Adore

Let me explain what you’re looking at in the poster for Adore. If it makes you cringe, the you don’t need to bother to read the rest of this review.

From the left you see Lil (Naomi Watts), a 40 something mom. She’s holding hands and making googly eyes at Tom, (James Frecheville) the 20 something son of her best friend Roz. Next you see Roz, (Robin Wright) a 40 something mom who is snuggling with Ian, (Xavier Samuel) who is the 20 something son of her best friend Lil.

Still with me?

Okay, I’ll back up a bit. Lil and Roz grew up together on the sun-drenched coast of New South Wales in Australia. They lived near each other, they swam together and worked together and stayed friends. As married women, they raised their sons side by side and the sons were BFFs just like their moms.

As the moms hit their 40s several things happened at once. Lil’s husband died. Roz’s husband moved to Sydney for a job and they divorced because Roz wouldn’t leave her idyllic home by the sea. The two boys turned into young men who were almost godlike in their beauty.

And then there was sex. Did the sons seduce their best friend’s mom, or was it the other way around? Either way they all consented.

It sounds incestuous and vaguely distasteful, but it didn’t feel that way to me as an observer of the film, or to the people involved in these delicate arrangements of love and passion. The characters had depth and nuance and subtlety as they explored the relationships between the four principal characters.

I don’t want to give you too many spoilers, but I will say that the two women came to the conclusion that the arrangement had to stop. The young men both married women their own age and both had daughters, who learned to swim in the beautiful sandy bay where their grandmothers adored and worshiped them. But that isn’t the end of the story. I won’t give you the end.

The film was directed by Anne Fontaine, a French director. This is the first film she’s directed in English. The film had a non-judgmental Frenchness to it where love and sex are concerned, and this allowed the actors to give a lot of meaning to their relationships. Odd as it may seem to say, this was not a purient movie. It was an intricate exploration of friendship, parenting, love, loneliness, and desire.

On of the most telling lines in the film came in a scene between Lil and Roz as they talked in a crisis moment toward the end of the film. Roz thinks it’s all her fault. Lil says, “it couldn’t be your fault, because you’re the only one who isn’t behaving badly.” Roz answers, “Then it really is my fault.”

The look of the film, with scenes of sun-dappled ocean, sand, gorgeous vistas, beautiful homes and beautiful people was breathtaking.

Have a look at the trailer.

If you’ve seen this film, I’d love to hear what your reaction to it was.

TNT, I love you

Today I celebrate two intelligent, talented, and inspiring actresses who have starring roles in two new TNT pilots.

Jennifer Beals will be in Proof, which is described as a supernatural medical drama. Beals will play a surgeon. The executive producer is Kyra Sedgwick.

Julia Stiles will star in Guilt by Association. This story is based on a book by former prosecutor Marcia Clark. Stiles plays a Deputy DA in the LA County District Attorney’s office. Rose Rollins and Elisabeth Röhm are also in the cast.

I love this news from TNT. I love that new shows are developed that star such awesome women. I love that they are coming from a cable network. I can’t wait to see both of the pilots and hope the shows are picked up for many happy seasons with Jennifer Beals and Julia Stiles at the helm.

Doing the happy dance over the possibility of two more female lead dramas on my TV each week.