Scandal gets Epic with Everything’s Coming Up Mellie

In many ways, the “Everything’s Coming Up Mellie” episode of Scandal belongs to Bellamy Young. The title is a big clue (duh). We see Mellie in new ways, learn some important backstory, and Bellamy Young enjoys an opportunity to stretch beyond her usual boundaries.

Quinn’s (Katie Lowes) story is important to the overall arc of this week’s Scandal as well. I’ll mostly recap what these two do and leave out some other bits of the episode in the process.

As the episode begins, Mellie is trying to redeem her image in the public’s mind after ratting out her cheating husband on live TV. She’s showing a female reporter around the White House, acting cheerful and bright and happy and supportive of her man.

Bellamy Young as Mellie and Tony Goldwyn as Fitz.
Bellamy Young as Mellie and Tony Goldwyn as Fitz.

Flashback to California 15 years ago. Mellie and Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) in bed, in love. A man yells at them to come downstairs.

Barry Bostwick as the elder Fitzgerald Grant
Barry Bostwick as the elder Fitzgerald Grant

The man is Fitz’s father, Fitzgerald Grant II (AKA Jerry) played with horrible, dissolute intensity by Barry Bostwick.

Mellie and the elder Grant want Fitz to run for Congress. We learn how much of what Fitz has achieved is because of Mellie’s ambition. Mellie made him what he is with sheer force of will, and with Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry), whom Mellie and Fitz meet for the first time here. We knew about Mellie and Cyrus (with Olivia) deciding to cheat on vote counts to win the Presidential election, but now we are seeing where it all began with Mellie and Cyrus.

Jeffy Perry as Cyrus
Jeff Perry as Cyrus looks over the future candidate and declares him tall

Young Cyrus has a full head of hair, a beard, a wife of the female variety, and a chart of California on a tripod that he uses to explain how Fitz will win the state.

Cut to Quinn at the shooting range with Leo (Paul Adelstein). She’s finally starting to hit the target. She’s also getting sexually interested in Leo. Quinn has been attracted to the dark side of Huck (Guillermo Díaz) for some time, and handling a gun is part of her journey into some other place which we haven’t seen yet.

Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope
Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope

At Olivia’s, the special phone rings. The one connected to the POTUS. She ignores it, then runs back to answer. She lets Fitz know how angry she is. She discovered (in a previous episode) that he was the Navy pilot who shot down the plane her mother died in. (We got a tiny glimpse of Olivia’s mother in a flashback in an earlier episode. She was played by Khandi Alexander, whose name appears in the credits for this episode. Will she be in another flashback?) Olivia also discovered that her father (Joe Morton) gave the order for the plane to be shot down. Olivia has been digging into this whole mess for a couple of episodes and is not happy about any of it. Fitz begs her to leave it alone for her own safety.

At the office, Olivia tells the gladiators that their new client is her mother, and pastes a photo of her on their case wall.

Mellie is showing the reporter paintings in the White House, bringing up a discussion of the Grant political dynasty, leading us into another flashback of 15 years ago in California. Cyrus wants Fitz to run on his record as a war hero. Fitz says running on his military experience is off limits.

the pilot
The pilot

At Olivia’s office the conversation is about the plane getting shot down and her father’s role in it. That’s when she pastes a photo of the plane’s pilot up on the case wall. It’s the POTUS.

Guillermo Díaz as Huck and Katie Lowes as Quinn
Guillermo Díaz as Huck and Katie Lowes as Quinn

Quinn follows Huck (Guillermo Díaz) into his office and says she is interested in what he does “for the right reasons.” He’s been trying to keep her from going into his particular rabbit hole full of hell but she keeps pressing.

The gladiators discover two important things. Someone was taken off the flight at the last minute. They are tracking down the gate agent. Fitzgerald Grant II was the head of the congressional committee investigating the plane crash. First Olivia’s dad and now Fitz’s Daddy dearest were in on the whole thing.

In California, 15 years ago. We learn that Fitz joined the Navy in perhaps the only independent decision of his entire life. His father berates him, belittles him and generally shows us what an ass a father can be. They talk about shooting down the plane and his father says he owns Fitz because he covered up the shooting down of the plane. Fitz doesn’t want to run on his war record because of this incident.

Quinn is spying on Leo while he spies on someone. He catches her at it, kisses her, and says she should give him a call. She’s hooked.

Mellie realizes Fitz isn't there for the reporter
Mellie realizes Fitz isn’t there for the reporter

Mellie takes the reporter into the Oval Office to show her how the baby and his daddy say goodnight. Fitz isn’t there. Flashback to 15 years ago. Cyrus is leaving the Grant house because he doesn’t do family drama. Mellie begs him to stay. Cyrus says that if Fitz is going to be governor, he is Mellie’s full time job. She promises to make him ready to work. This is it, the moment when Mellie gives up her own life in order to make her man President.

Mellie’s in Cyrus’ office. She is livid because Fitz didn’t show up for the good night baby scene with the reporter. Cyrus doesn’t know if he will show up tomorrow for an interview.

The gladiators find out the name of the man they took off the plane.

Leo calls Quinn and asks her what she’s doing tomorrow night. She smiles.

In California 15 years ago, the elder Grant is ranting to Mellie about how he’s a decent father. He talks about the flight Fitz shot down. He says there was a dirty bomb on board, Fitz was stationed in Iceland and he shot it down. If it had reached its target it would have taken out half of London. Mellie says everyone died, but the elder Grant explains what would have happened if the plane reached London. Then he sits down next to Mellie and says, “Good God, you’re a beautiful woman.”

rape
It’s rape, you ass.

He grabs her, she objects, says no, pushes back. He says, “You know you want it.” He rapes her.

Back to now, Mellie waits for Fitz in the Oval Office.

I am tired of doing everything myself.
I am tired of doing everything myself

Mellie gives Fitz hell, tells him she’s tired of doing everything herself, they are supposed to be partners, talks about her sacrifices. He treats her like shit and all she’s ever done is fight for him. She says he doesn’t have to love her but he needs to be her friend and show up for her. It’s a long, powerful scene for Bellamy Young. When she finishes this, we flash back to moments post-rape, when she came into the bedroom where Fitz was waiting in bed. She wanted a shower desperately but Fitz made her lay down beside him. She hid her emotions from him, hid what had happened, and endured his whining. Fitz says, just once he wishes his father would apologize and be on his side.

In the present, Mellie is surprised when Fitz shows up for an interview with the reporter. The reporter asks Mellie why she went on live TV to talk about her husband’s affair and says many Americans think she’s insane. Mellie can’t give the reporter a good comeback.

Fitz takes responsibility
Fitz takes responsibility

Fitz takes over the interview and says, “I had the affair, I should bear the responsibility. I made the mistake. Don’t blame Mellie for what I did.” Wow, he did step up. Mellie is a bit amazed but grateful.

Leo and Quinn are in a car, watching a security guy on the ground floor of a high rise office. Leo shows her a syringe and asks her if she wants to give the security guy enough of a shot to put him to sleep and then disable the security cameras. She says yes. They get it on right there in the front seat. Afterwards, Quinn enters the high rise, stabs the guy with the syringe. Blood pours out of his mouth and he drops dead. She panics, touches him, gets blood on her hands, and runs out.

Back to 15 years ago, Mellie uses the rape to force the elder Grant to apologize to Fitz and tell him what he needs to hear in order to get him to run for Governor. He does it.

Jake (Scott Foley), who is working for Olivia now, shows up outside the high rise. Police are everywhere and they are carrying out a body. Seems the guy Quinn was tricked into killing is the guy the gladiators were looking for to learn more about the flight Fitz shot down.

Quinn’s in an alley trying to call Huck. Leo appears, shows her video of her committing the murder, and says, “You belong to B-16 now. Welcome to Wonderland.” Quinn is now trapped in the same hell as Huck, plus she killed the only clue Olivia had to the case. Damn.

Olivia’s father strides through a jail, enters a cell. Interspersed with this, we see Fitz examine intel that lets him figure out that the guy who ordered the plane to be shot down is Olivia’s father and that one of the passengers was Olivia’s mother. In the jail, Olivia’s father sits down and says, “Our daughter’s been asking about you.”

Khandi Alexander as Maya Lewis
Khandi Alexander as Maya Lewis

Olivia’s mother turns over on her cot and looks at him.

Fifteen years ago in the governor’s race: Mellie is thanking everyone who worked on the campaign for being so much help. She tells Fitz she’s pregnant, he kisses her and says, “You know if it’s a boy, he’ll make us name it Jerry.”

Who's the daddy?
Who’s the daddy?

Mellie’s expression is enough to make us wonder if the elder Grant is the father of the child. Oh, oh.

Lisa Kudrow Kicks Butt in Scandal

The last couple of weeks Lisa Kudrow has been on Scandal. She plays Congresswoman Josephine Marcus who wants to run for President. Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) is helping with her image and her PR.

Their first hurdle was a child the Congresswoman had at age 15. That child, played by Sally Pressman from Army Wives is now 30 years old and thinks she’s the Congresswoman’s sister. Olivia is impressed by Congresswoman Marcus when she owns up to the birth on TV – even though she doesn’t reveal who the child is on TV.

Other hurdles involve the Congresswoman’s basic honesty and her desire not to accept big money contributions with all the strings that come attached to such contributions. Also, Olivia isn’t quite sure the Congresswoman is tough enough to get through a campaign.

Olivia gets the Congresswoman a TV interview with James Novak (Dan Bucatinsky), which is where this scene comes in.

I love so many things about this. I love every word that comes out of Lisa Kudrow’s mouth and the perfect way she delivers the lines. I love the look on Kerry Washington’s face as she listens. I love Shonda Rhimes for writing this and finding such an effective way to say it to the world. I love the way the sister/daughter character thinks she needs to shut the Congresswoman up and I love the way Darby Stanchfield’s character Abby says, “Don’t you dare.”

We may have a woman running for President in 2016. When that woman ran for the nomination in 2008, she faced sexism much more overt than what we saw in this scene from Scandal. That’s another reason why I love this scene. It isn’t about the big gender gaffes that get everyone’s attention. It’s points out the subtle sexism that is so insidious. It points out the quiet sexism that nobody rails against in The New York Times, that nobody editorializes about it in Salon. It’s about the framing: the lovely home, the feminine props with the iced tea – the subtle sexism escapes our overt notice but influences our worldview. It’s about the language: the Cinderella story wording – the subtle sexism doesn’t raise any red flags, but silently shapes our worldview.

Even the title of this clip, “Josi loses her temper on TV,” is sexist. I don’t know who titled it, but it’s not the title anyone would put on a clip like this if a man were pointing out inequality.

Congresswoman Josephine Marcus kicked butt. Lisa Kudrow kicked butt. I speak for every woman on the planet when I say, kick a lot more butt, Congresswoman. Can I vote for a fictional Congresswoman? I sure want to.

A big thank you to Shonda Rhimes for Congresswoman Josephine Marcus and a storyline on Scandal about gender in politics.

As an aside, the Congresswoman created in Scandal reminds me of the truly outstanding political role model in the Danish series Borgen. Once again, I recommend Borgen for your viewing pleasure.

Sarah Lancashire in Rose and Maloney

I became a dedicated Sarah Lancashire devotee as I watched Last Tango in Halifax. Being an American who rarely gets to see British TV unless it’s broadcast on PBS, I had never heard of her before.

It’s surprisingly difficult to learn anything about British actors in America. Europeans don’t have much interest in filling out information for IMDB.com and places like Wikipedia are sketchy at best. When I saw that Sarah Lancashire was in a series called Rose and Maloney, I looked for it on Netflix and Amazon Prime but couldn’t find it. A couple of days ago, I discovered that YouTube runs full episodes of the series via All3Media and other kind souls who’ve shared.

Sarah Lancashire as Rose Linden in season 1
Sarah Lancashire as Rose Linden in season 1

The series, which premiered in 2002, is uneven: storylines get mysteriously dropped, the characters change in inexplicable ways. It feels like they tried the first two episodes (which amount to season 1), got some positive response, and did a bit of a makeover in season 2 and 3 to try to keep things going. Rose in particular gets a bit of a redo – new hair, a different look with jeans and checkered shirts rolled up to the elbows, and slightly less drunkenness and fewer diabetic meltdowns.

Sarah Lancashine and Phil Davis and Rose and Maloney
Sarah Lancashine and Phil Davis and Rose and Maloney

Sarah Lancashire is devastatingly real as Rose in every episode.Rose and Maloney (Phil Davis plays Maloney) work for a fictional agency called CJRA, which reviews cases to make sure that justice was served. Sarah Lancashire as Rose Linden is a hard-drinking, smoking, cursing, rule-breaking investigator with relentless doggedness when it comes to finding truth and justice. She’s diabetic, messy, brilliant, and unafraid. Even though the series itself is inconsistent, Sarah Lancashire is devastatingly real as Rose in every episode.

Phil Davis is the perfect suit-and-tie establishment foil to her excess.Maloney’s a straight and narrow kind of guy who can’t believe some of the stunts Rose pulls, but who admires her skills in finding the truth about the cases they review. Phil Davis is the perfect suit-and-tie establishment foil to her excess.

Rose changes a lot in season 2 and 3. Her appearance changes, the boyfriend in prison somehow vanishes from her mind. Her boss changes from a man she shags on his desk late at night to a woman she drives crazy with her rebelliousness. The woman playing her mother changes. Nevertheless, Rose still is the same basic person with her snarky attitude and her determination to find the truth about her cases.

There are some delightful guest stars, Anthony Stewart Head and Eamonn Walker being two examples.

I’m never exactly sure what on-screen chemistry is other than good acting, but whatever it is, these two have it.Anne Reid joins the cast as Rose’s mother in a couple of episodes. Seeing Anne Reid and Sarah Lancashire as mother and daughter in Rose and Maloney makes it obvious why they were cast together again in Last Tango in Halifax. Their chemistry, honed to razor sharpness in Last Tango in Halifax, is perfectly complementary. I’m never exactly sure what on-screen chemistry is other than good acting, but whatever it is, these two have it. Maybe they vibrate at the same frequency.

Here are links to the other episodes of Rose and Maloney on YouTube. I don’t know if this is every episode, but it’s every episode on YouTube. Have a binge watching party with Sarah Lancashire!

Lost Girl Season 3 Pre Show

Spend 45 minutes with Jay Firestone, Lost Girl producer, and the main cast of Lost Girl as they talk about what to expect in season 3.

The video was made after season 3 was shot, but before it was released, so we didn’t know about Tamsin. Present in this interview were Anna Silk, Zoie Palmer, Rick Howland, K.C. Collins, Ksenia Solo and Kris Holden-Ried.

I think this only appeared on Showcase, I don’t think it was shown on SyFy.

Season 3 is over now, but this video was new to me and I enjoyed it immensely. I hope you do, too.

As far as I know Showcase has not released a similar season 4 pre show, but if I find one, I’ll bring it to your attention.

Lost Girl: Season Three will be available on DVD and Blu-Ray soon at Amazon. The trailer for the DVD set promises an hour of footage unseen in the show plus material from Comic Con.

Bomb Girls the Movie: It’s a Go

Bomb Girls was a Canadian series, canceled after 2 seasons. It was a WWII story about women who worked in a bomb factory called Victory Munitions. It ran in Canada on Global TV and in the U.S. on Reelz. It’s  available on Netflix.

The show had a huge and enthusiastic following. After it was cancelled, a #savebombgirls campaign started on social media, especially Twitter, lobbying for a movie. The campaign worked!

Here’s a report from The Star, Bomb Girls return with TV movie.

The original cast, including Jodi Balfour, Charlotte Hegele, Ali Liebert and Canadian Screen Award-winning actress Meg Tilly, are all back for the movie, which is set in spring 1943. The workers at Victory Munitions are tasked with making newly developed sonar equipment, but there may be a saboteur in their midst.

To celebrate the upcoming TV movie, I decided to rewatch the entire series on Netflix. I am up to season 2, episode 6, “Where There’s Smoke,” which is the episode these screen shots came from since that’s what I was about to watch when I started writing this post.

The series focuses mainly on a few of the many women who work at Victory Munitions. They are led by Meg Tilly as Lorna Corbett. Meg Tilly so seldom appears in movies or on TV, and she is so wonderful when she does. It’s worth watching this series just to see her in action.

Meg Tilly as Lorna
Meg Tilly as Lorna

Lorna has grown children – played by Natasha Greenblatt and Brett Dier – and a husband crippled by his service in “the great war,” WWI. The husband is wonderfully played by Peter Outerbridge. Brett Dier does a great job as the son, a tail gunner home from the war to go on a Victory Bond tour as a hero, but he suffers from what we now call PTSD.

Lorna comforts Gladys
Lorna comforts Gladys. Look at the perfect set.

Lorna is the “floor matron” and mother hen to all the young women who come away from their former lives to work in the bomb factory.

Part of the story deals with the fear and ostracism of Italian and German Canadians who were sent to camps as soon as Canada entered the war. Lorna’s character is involved with trying to get a particular Italian, Marco (Antonio Cupo) fired from the bomb factory as a security risk. Marco is a handsome Italian and is a temptation to Lorna as well as several other women in the story. I don’t want to give you any spoilers about Marco, but he is important to many storylines in Bomb Girls.

The theme of prejudice and bigotry appears in other ways in Bomb Girls, with German POW’s, Italian internment camps, Japanese-American soldiers, and an Indian doctor that Lorna’s daughter falls in love with.

Jodi Balfour as Gladys
Jodi Balfour as Gladys

Jodi Balfour plays the rich Gladys Witham. Her parents own Witham Foods, an important supplier of rations to the soldiers. Gladys is engaged to an American (Sebastian Pigott) who her father (James McGowan) is bringing into the company. When America, enters the war, Gladys’ fella enlists.

Gladys is a rebel and wants to work in the factory, on the floor, making bombs. She does this, although it causes a lot of family conflict. She becomes friends with the other girls who work on the floor. She also rebels against the sexual standards of the day in ways that her parents think “could ruin her.” She rebels against her parents view of the war as a great opportunity to make huge profits. If one member of the cast could fill the role of what modern women were set to become after the war, Gladys would fit the bill.

Tahmoh Penikett joins the cast as factory security head toward the end of season 2 and gets Gladys involved in security. This storyline apparently continues in the movie, because Tahmoh Penikett is in the movie and the mention of saboteurs would fit his and Gladys’ part of the story.

Charlotte Hegele as Kate
Charlotte Hegele as Kate

Charlotte Hegele is Kate, a runaway from her oppressive and abusive father. She’s using an assumed name and trying to find a new life. She’s a wonderful singer and performs a number of songs as the stories unfold.

A singing trio
A singing trio

One of the times Kate performs, she’s part of a trio doing a jingle for Victory Munitions. In those days, women’s trios all sounded like The Andrews Sisters, but Kate also sings jazz, religious songs, and ballads.

Kate spends a lot of time hiding her real identity and name, a habit which causes her problems when she finds a steady boyfriend.

Charlotte Hegele as Kate and Ali Liebert as Betty
Charlotte Hegele as Kate and Ali Liebert as Betty

Kate and Betty (Ali Liebert) live in the same rooming house, work the same shift at the factory, and soon become fast friends. Betty’s feelings for Kate run to love, not friendship. Kate is not able to return Betty’s feelings in the way Betty wishes she would, which causes some conflict between them. Even so, Betty is very protective of Kate and helps her escape from her father for good.

Rachel Wilson as Teresa
Rachel Wilson as Teresa

One of Betty’s ploys to try to fit in at the factory was to have a boyfriend – a very unsatisfactory relationship for her. About midway through season 2, episode 6 to be exact, Betty meets a soldier named Teresa (Rachel Wilson) who makes it plain very quickly that she understands Betty’s sexual inclinations and shares them.

Ali Liebert as Betty and Rachel Wilson as Teresa
Ali Liebert as Betty and Rachel Wilson as Teresa

When Betty is with Teresa, she finally has her first sexual experience that feels right to her. Betty is what might have been called “a tough cookie” in the 40s, yet she is complex and vulnerable in surprising ways.

Anastasia Phillips as Vera
Anastasia Phillips as Vera

Anastasia Phillips as Vera is the final major female character in the story. She is injured while working the line and has a terrible scar.

Vera and Lorna working together
Vera and Lorna working together

The scar affects Vera’s self-esteem in interesting ways – it brings her near suicide, but she comes out of it.  She uses sex to help heal herself on the inside as the scar heals on the outside. In her job at the factory, it turns out she’s really smart and capable and she ends up bringing all sorts of good ideas to Victory Munitions. Vera is the kind of woman who probably went on to run a business of her own after the war.

Themes of friendship and feminism permeate the stories in Bomb Girls. All of the women in Bomb Girls teach each other lessons and offer each other strength. They also teach their male bosses, boyfriends, and families exactly how vital and important women are to the war effort. It was an exciting time for women in Canada and everywhere, and their stories explain how women’s early steps into feminism and the workplace happened.

Rosie O’Donnell does a turn as a newspaper reporter who inspired Lorna to ask for raises for herself and the girls, making equal pay another theme in the series.

Gladys on the phone
Gladys on the phone, properly dressed in a hat

You may not be old enough to remember how things looked and sounded in the 40s, but I am. The details in Bomb Girls in costuming and sets and props and music and radio broadcasts and magazines and every other way are perfect. And all those women’s hats! It’s a complete treat to watch just for the way it looks and sounds.

If you haven’t watched this series about women’s lives during a pivotal period of history, I think you’ll enjoy checking it out.

Joss Whedon: He’s Our Man!

Angel, Spike, Xander, Mal Reynolds, Jayne, Dr. Horrible, Victor, Topher Brink, Tony Stark, Agent Coulson. Great characters. I enjoy them all. One thing they have in common is that they are some of the on-screen characters under the guiding mind of Joss Whedon. He uses some great characters in his stories – at least half of them are men.

I don’t care about any of those guys. Why? Because everybody writes great male characters for film and TV.

Joss Whedon does something that everybody else doesn’t always do. He writes great female character, too. Speaking as a woman, I can testify to the fact that women are desperate to see great female characters on their various screens. When someone like Joss Whedon gives us that with brilliant consistency, women notice. I pay homage to him today.

Here’s a little treat in the form of a few of the women Joss Whedon invented for the screen, with Joss’s fuzzy and warm face right in the middle. I’m not going to name characters and shows to match up with the faces below. If you don’t already know those facts, you need to embark on a study of Joss Whedon’s filmography immediately.

Whedon Women

I love you, Joss, and every woman you ever created.

Whedon on Whedon Women

This is an old speech, from 2006 and Equality Now, but I know Joss Whedon still gets the same question everywhere he goes. It’s worth listening to his answer one more time.

Joss is right. Instead of asking him why he’s doing it right, we should start asking everyone else why they’re doing it wrong.

A full transcript of this speech is available.

Update

The tweet is referring to this event:

On 4 November, Equality Now will honor award-winning writer, director, producer and Advisory Board member, Joss Whedon, for his work on gender equality at an event in Beverly Hills, California. Chaired by Board member Gloria Steinem and hosted by Paul Reiser.

Joss Whedon’s photo featured above ©Gage Skidmore.

Last Tango in Halifax might be Last Tango in Santa Fe

The Guardian tells us that Diane Keaton plans US remake of BBC’s Last Tango in Halifax. It will air on HBO. Sally Wainwright, the creator of the show, says she will be a producer of the American version but will not have a huge role in the production.

I know I have lots of feelings about this news, and I’m sure the dedicated Last Tango fans do, too.

First, where would it be set? I just made up the part about Santa Fe. It’s a cool place, there are ranches surrounding it, and a lot of films get made in New Mexico. It might be a sensible location for a series that needs both urban and rural settings along with great scenery. Diane Keaton has not asked for my opinion in this matter, however.

Who would be in it? Would Diane Keaton play Celia? She’s 67. What American actresses are in their 70s? Shirley MacLaine, Barbra Streisand, Faye Dunaway, Jane Fonda, Ellen Burstyn, Olympia Dukakis, Julie Christie, Candice Bergen are a few possible names. So we have talent in that age category, but American women don’t look their age. That’s a bit of a problem. Do we want to see anyone who doesn’t look as genuine Anne Reid in the role?

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

There are simply tons of older men to choose from for Alan. Robert DeNiro, Robert Redford, Harrison Ford, Peter Coyote and dozens more. But I so like Derek Jacobi’s sweet and loving Alan. Some swaggering American who is used to waving a gun around just doesn’t feel right. And 70 year-old American men still fancy themselves leading men who should be snaring women 30 and 40 years younger than themselves. That’s a bit of a problem, too. As for the feckless John, Tony Gardner was perfection in this part. Who could equal that?

What about Caroline and Gillian and Kate? Remember my dream actress pairing of Ashley Judd and Jennifer Beals? Think they’d make a good Caroline and Kate? Other actresses in their 40s abound, include Sandra Bullock, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Garner, Renée Zellweger and lots more. But I’m sort of convinced that Sarah Lancashire is irreplaceable as Caroline. Nicola Walker in her jeans and Converse sneakers brings such nuance and subtlety to Gillian.

Casting is a challenge. Adapting the dialog and locations will be a challenge as well. Diane Keaton has taken on a huge task to make this wonderful story American. I wish her well, and I wish her great luck finding the right people to do the writing and casting and create the sets.

I’m really attached to Last Tango in Halifax. Even so, Diane Keaton is trustworthy, in my opinion. If anyone can make a love story about older adults shine, it should be Diane Keaton. Who knows, I may love the American version of this tale of second chances as much as I do the British one.

When I get attached to a show, like the Millennium series in Swedish (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest) I feel a vague dread at the arrival of American versions. Then I go see it (of course) and I like it on it’s own merit. It isn’t the same as the original, but it still has the characters and the story and I end up enjoying both versions. I’m ready to see what happens to this lovely British tale of second chances. Go, Diane!

One extra good piece of good news from The Guardian post is,

The second series of Last Tango In Halifax, one of BBC1’s biggest-rating new shows of 2012, launches next month and a third is planned.

A big hurrah for season 3.

Diane Keaton image © 2003 Columbia Pictures

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.

Review: Hostages

Hostages got off to a slow start. I’m glad I stuck with it, however, because it builds week by week with unexpected plot twists, character development that throws you off balance, and increasing suspense. Episode 5 (of 13) aired this week, and I’m now well and truly hooked.

Continue reading “Review: Hostages”

Apocalyptic Thinking with The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is gruesome and gross and bloody. It depicts killing by all kinds of characters, including children. If you can stand looking at that, it’s worth watching. Why?

Because behind all the gore, it’s a story about what humans do when faced with apocalyptic events.

When they aren’t busy killing zombies, the characters in The Walking Dead do all the things that people normally do – fall in love, have kids, argue, garden, work, build things, take care of each other and look at each other with suspicion.

characters in the prison
In season 4, humans are living in a prison to keep the walkers out as life goes on inside

The Walking Dead is about a zombie apocalypse, which is of course, fiction. What this fictional event does is force the characters to face questions about morality and ethics and self-preservation that go deep into human nature. If other humans threatened your safety, would you kill the them? If people came to you in your safe place wanting to share your food and security, would you allow them in? Would you teach children to be kind and caring, or would you show them how to use a knife to kill as the character Carol (Melissa McBride) is doing in season 4?

Melissa McBride in a jail cell
Melissa McBride in season 4’s prison setting

Much of the plot deals with how humans – even while surrounded by hoards of ravening zombies – are unable to trust each other and work together for their common good. There are power struggles, there is mistrust, there is no effort to join together to try to solve the problems facing everyone. Sounds like the U.S. Congress, does it not?

There are other possible forms of apocalypse that are not fiction. Nuclear war, climate change, global monetary crises – things could fall apart in many ways. The Walking Dead gives us a template for the kind of thinking that would face us if a catastrophic event overtook the world.

Global warming, for example, is already causing change. What happens when millions of people who live in coastal cities are made homeless by rising oceans? As such climate refugees move inland, will you welcome them, help them, or regard them as a threat to what you have? If you had to move inland because your city was underwater, how would you approach your new situation?

If our infrastructure fell apart around us, would it be every man (or woman) for himself, or would you work with others to bring a peaceful organization to whatever situation surrounded you? Would you put your faith in a leader such as the character Rick (Andrew Lincoln) in The Walking Dead, or would you try to take command yourself? Rick lead for 3 seasons, realized he made mistakes, and turned his leadership over to a democratic process. Do you think something like that would work in a real world situation?

The Walking Dead takes viewers on a moral and ethical journey that’s worth exploring. Our moral and ethical choices don’t involve zombies, but real people, real human failures and behaviors. What would we do in the face of global catastrophe? The Walking Dead makes you think about these things. That’s why it’s worth watching.

What’s your opinion of The Walking Dead?

All images ©AMC Television.