Watch This: Two More Women Led Shows Coming to TV

I keep discovering more upcoming TV series with women in leading roles. Just when I think I’ve brought them all to your attention, I find more. This is a great problem to have!

With the Madam Secretary series going into the schedule on Sunday as a lead up to The Good Wife and Shonda Rhimes new drama How to Get Away with Murder set on the Thursday (which I shall henceforth refer to as Rhimesday) night schedule, I think we can safely predict what the two biggest female-led hits will be. Don’t overlook some of the less blessed-by-scheduling offerings I’ve mentioned lately, though, because some of them look very good.

Madam Secretary

The first trailer is Madam Secretary. It looks fabulous. If it is supposed to be some kind of play off Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, that’s just fine by me, but I don’t see a lot of Hillary in the way this is played in the previews.

Téa Leoni stars as Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA analyst turned college professor who gets recruited to fill a vacant Secretary of State job. Her husband is played by Tim Daly. Bebe Neuwirth is in the cast.

Madam Secretary was created by Barbara Hall, who has written for Homeland and Judging Amy. Morgan Freeman is one of the producers. It starts in the fall on Sundays right before The Good Wife, a piece of prime TV real estate if there ever was one.

Extant

Extant stars Halle Berry as an astronaut who returns to Earth after 13 months alone in space, inexplicably pregnant. Her husband John is played by Goran Visnjic. John is a scientist who created their robotic son. The son is played by Pierce Gagnon, who despite his young age, has had a lot of roles to his credit. Camryn Manheim, Sergio Harford, and Grace Gummer also appear. Steven Spielberg is producing.

Extant begins in July. According to one account I saw of the plot, the astronaut’s “experiences in space and home lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history.”

Extant looks very mysterious. Do you like the mysterious ones?

Tea Leoni image via CBS.com

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Orphan Black: Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est

The Orphan Black episode “Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est” begins in Rachel’s bloody apartment. Daniel’s body litters the floor, Helena’s signature art drawn in blood decorates the walls. Dr. Leakie (Matt Frewer) thinks Rachel (Tatiana Maslany) should take a kinder, gentler approach to the situation. She thinks not.

Paul (Dylan Bruce) will replace Daniel as Rachel’s monitor. Paul is the universal monitor: he’s monitored Beth, Sarah, and now Rachel.

Rachel orders Leekie to shut down the tests until Sarah comes to heel.
Rachel orders Leekie to shut down the tests until Sarah comes to heel.

Sarah takes her super-hugger of a twin sister to Felix’s (Jordan Gavaris) place. Helena needs to get out of her bloody wedding dress and clean up. Sarah tells Helena to behave and calls her Meathead. Helena objects with, “Don’t call me this,” but the nickname seems to symbolize the developing bond and affection between them.

Felix wants nothing to do with babysitting Helena – he has a hot date with the morgue boy – and delivers Helena to Detective Bell (Kevin Hanchard) for safekeeping.

Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) learns there is a new stem cell line, compatible with Cosima, that could help her. They go to Dr. Leekie’s office in search of it and he finds them there. Turns out that Leekie is willing to defy Rachel’s directive to shut down the help for Cosima by giving her an injection of the stem cells. He also tells Cosima that the clone’s original genome was destroyed in a fire 20 years ago. We heard about this fire before in relation to Project LEDA.

Paul is now Rachel's henchman.
Paul is now Rachel’s henchman.

Paul’s first job as Rachel’s new monitor is to take the gun that Daniel used to kill the cop at Cal’s house and put Felix’s fingerprints all over it. He manages to do that by interrupting Felix’s love fest. Paul calls Sarah and says Rachel wants them all – Sarah, Helena, and Kira – or Felix goes down for murder. Rachel isn’t asking for Felix, which shoots down my budding theory that he might be a clone, too.

I can ignore you forever, Artie baby.
I can ignore you forever, Artie baby.

At Art Bell’s apartment, Helena is silent. She watches fish while Art asks questions about Maggie Chen and the Prolethians. Finally he feeds her, which loosens her up and she begins to talk. Interestingly, she asks as many questions as she answers, and her questions are intelligent ones. Also, she does love the powdered donuts.

I gave her darkness
I gave her darkness

Helena mimes poking the eyes out of one of her early tormentors. From art works we’ve seen of Helena’s where the eyes were X-ed out of a nun, I’m guessing her tormentor was a nun. She mentions a locker and the Swan Man who played God. Then she uses the lid off a sardine can to open her handcuffs and leaves Art cuffed to the wall. She goes to a storage unit (locker) where she has a motorcycle.

Cal (Michiel Huisman) and Kira (Skyler Wexler) are still playing house in the camper. Cal is being a great dad, Kira is being quick-witted and showing signs of ESP. Cal’s hiding a gun and carrying a fake ID. He assures Sarah when she calls that they are close enough to come get her whenever she’s ready.

At the Prolethian compound, Gracie’s (Zoé De Grand Maison) mouth was sutured shut as punishment for Helena’s escape. Henrik (Peter Outerbridge) and her mother Bonnie (Kristin Booth) tell her that, “She can rot,” if she refuses to talk about what happened. If they don’t find Helena, Gracie will carry the egg currently reproducing itself in a Petri dish.

Yes, Helena can come up with GPS coordinates off the top of her head.
Why, yes, Helena can come up with GPS coordinates off the top of her head.

Sarah and Art are in pursuit of Helena. Helena helped out by leaving some GPS coordinates at Art Bell’s. They find the locker and learn that Ethan Duncan is still alive. On the back of a recent photo of him is says “Swan Man.” Helena has taken off with a sniper rifle.

Guess what Paul’s second job as Rachel’s new monitor is? Sex slave.

Helena sets up the rifle in a apartment across from Rachel’s. As she takes aim and prepares to eliminate the problem that is Rachel, we see Rachel and Paul have sex. It’s weird sex. Rachel demands complete control. She orchestrates Paul’s every move and slaps him when he thinks for himself. Rachel demonstrates a kind of ruthless eagerness that is creepy and disturbing. She’s extremely turned on, but it’s the power and control that excite her, not the actual sex.

Helena, watching, says, “Pretty, dirty, sexy Rachel – like my mother.” Is there some woman somewhere that Helena once called mother?

Art and Sarah arrive and want Helena to put the gun down.

Love the light in this scene
Love the light in this scene

Helena wants Sarah to look at what Rachel is doing, at the “unfaithful” Paul. Sarah begs her not to shoot. She explains that Felix will be in trouble if Rachel dies. Sarah walks in front of the rifle and says she doesn’t care about Paul.

Don't shoot
Don’t shoot

Sarah uses tears and some clever talk to convince Helena that they are family now, that they need to care for each other, and that Felix is part of that family. Finally Helena puts down the gun.

Seestra
Seestra

Helena and Sarah join hands. They walk out of the room with arms around each other. Sarah calls Helena Meathead again, and Helena responds, “Don’t call me this.” In the car, Helena tells Sarah that they need to go to Cold River, the place of screams.

Give back Felix
Give back Felix

Sarah meets Dr. Leekie in a bar. She demands Felix in return for Ethan Duncan, who is still alive. Leekie mentions that Cosima is sick – news to Sarah. When Sarah leaves, we realize Paul followed Leekie there. It’s really hard to tell where the real loyalties are with Paul and Leekie. They are ciphers, willing to double-cross anyone, but we aren’t sure why.

This episode was written by Tony Elliott, who is responsible for much of the writing in season 2. It was directed by Helen Shaver. She shared quite a bit about the experience on her Twitter account. Tatiana seemed to enjoy having her as a director.

The quotation from Francis Bacon used in the title, with English translation:

Ipsa scientia potestas est. Knowledge itself is power.”

Some photos from BBC America, some ©Jan Thijs 2013. via IMDB.

Watch This: Trailer for The Mysteries of Laura

The Mysteries of Laura stars Debra Messing. It’s based on a successful series from Spain. Laura’s a cop and a single mom, struggling to cope with the demands of modern life. Plus, she’s a crack shot.

I’m willing to give it a chance because of Debra Messing, but The Mysteries of Laura might be a little ditzy for my taste. I’ve enjoyed everything Debra Messing has every done – especially the recent Smash – so I’m hoping she elevates it from just silly into really funny.

This show will start in the fall on NBC.

I missed this one in my post about women led shows coming to TV. I’m always looking for shows like this. Please let me know if you find more I’ve overlooked.

Watch This: Trailer for Proof

Proof, the new Jennifer Beals drama coming to TNT, released an official trailer. Looks like there’s going to be some action built into the this character’s story. I don’t know if you follow Jennifer Beals on Twitter, but she shows a strong interest in science in her Twitter life. I’m thinking this whip-smart scientist part is going to fit her perfectly.

Also starring in Proof are Matthew Modine and Joe Morton. Check out Matthew Modine in this preview. Why do men look so good with gray in their hair while women aren’t supposed to be gray? I hope Joe Morton has time to do this and still be Olivia Pope’s dad on Scandal because he is the essence of danger there.

The producer for this show is Kyra Sedgwick. In case you thought acting was her only gig, she’s been producing since 1996.

5 Reasons Why We Need Kalinda Sharma, P.I.

I tweeted this. I meant it as a joke, but after I thought about it a while, I had a real idea. No joke.

What The Good Wife‘s Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi) really needs is a spin-off all her own. It could be named “Kalinda Sharma, P.I.” and would put Kalinda at the center of her own show where she could be fully used.

Even though everyone loves her on The Good Wife, she’s relegated to minor errand running and the occasional spy-bang. With so much woman power on The Good Wife in the form of the show’s actual lead Alicia Florrik (Julianna Margulies) and the powerhouse Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), there just isn’t time to give Kalinda a lot to do.

The awesome Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma
Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma

5 Reasons Why

  1. Everyone loves Kalinda. She’d bring an audience with her.
  2. Kalinda is bisexual. She would be the only lead character on network TV who is, a worthy and important milestone to bring to TV. (I hear all you Bo Dennis fans shouting that Lost Girl pioneered this with a bisexual character played by Anna Silk, but I’m talking network TV.)
  3. Archie Panjabi is perfection in this part: secretive, mysterious, powerful, brave, sexy, bold, smart, and awesome with a baseball bat.
  4. Archie Panjabi is not the standard-issue white woman who represents female as the default white. We need diversity and Kalinda brings it.
  5. Archie Panjabi has impeccable acting chops. She’s been in East Is East, Bend It Like Beckham, The Constant Gardener,  A Mighty Heart, Yasmin and much more. All that light needs to shine in a starring role.

Terms and Conditions

There must be some conditions on this proposed spin-off.

  • Kalinda must have the same costume designer who dresses her on The Good Wife. The leather and the boots have to stay.
  • What we already know about the mysterious Kalinda must remain her basic personality.

So, what do you think? Am I right?

[Note: This post was syndicated on BlogHer.com.]

Watch This: Trailer for The Internet’s Own Boy

Co-creator of Reddit and political activist Aaron Swartz fought for a free, open Internet. He committed suicide at a young age. This documentary looks at his life and contributions.

The film was shown at Sundance and SXSW, but I’m not finding a schedule or any updates about where it can be seen now. Watch your local small cinema and keep an eye on places like Netflix for a chance to learn more about Aaron Swartz.

Hat tip to Spydergrrl’s Trailer for The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz Hits the Big Screen.

Image credit: Aaron Swartz Documentary

Orphan Black: Governed As It Were By Chance

The tension sizzles, everyone is sinister, and we don’t know who to trust in “Governed As It Were By Chance,” episode 4 of season 2 of Orphan Black. Everything ahead is a spoiler, but the story is not described in the order in which it happened.

The episode begins at the car wreck. Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) walks away with Cal (Michiel Huisman), leaving Daniel (Matthew Bennett) behind for dead. She hides the wrecked car under some brush with Daniel still inside.

Sarah and Kira in the camper
Sarah and Kira

Cal, for unexplained reasons (which makes him suspicious as hell), has a camper that isn’t registered in his name. Cal, Sarah, and Kira (Skyler Wexler) head off in it. Sarah trusts him, at least for now.

Sarah stops in at Mrs. S’s place. Felix (Jordan Gavaris) just happens to be there. They dig through old photos and scrapbooks and find clues about Susan and Ethan Duncan – as in Rachel Duncan’s parents – who are the people in the Project Leda photo. They also find photos of Carlton, the man who brought Sarah to Siobhan in the beginning. As they leave, the basement door opens and we realize someone has been listening.

Later, Sarah has a Skype conversation with Cosima. She shares her new intel and Cosima promises to investigate. Before Sarah called, Cosima was rewatching the videos of Jennifer’s slow death. She has to break off the call from Sarah quickly to hide her own tubercular-sounding cough and her own declining health.

Sarah and Cal
Sarah and Cal

Sarah wants to go to Rachel’s place. She gets Cal to agree to watch Kira.

Detective Art Bell (Kevin Hanchard) is hanging about outside the Prolethean compound taking photos. He cannot see inside, but we see Helena wake up. She remembers vague snatches of the strange wedding. Gracie (Zoé De Grand Maison) tries to smother her. Helena overpowers her and runs off. She passes through a lab on her way out and remembers something being “taken out of her.” The look of distaste on her face as she recalls being in the lab suggests sensibilities in Helena that we haven’t seen before. Outside, Helena runs past Art Bell. He realizes who she is and delays the men who chase her, allowing her to get a head start.

Felix wants Allison to get her dignity back.
Felix wants Allison to get her dignity back.

Allison’s story is interspersed with these events. She’s in rehab, where Felix tells her she went voluntarily. Allison remembers nothing. She broke her arm when she fell from the stage; she’s a mess. Felix thinks rehab will be good for her and help her get her dignity back. Plus, dear daddy Donnie  (Kristian Bruun) shows up and threatens to take the kids away if she doesn’t stay. Allison will be peeing a cup for a few days while everyone else is in mortal peril.

Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) searches out Carlton. Carlton is played by Roger Cross, who must be the busiest actor in Canada – he’s in absolutely everything. Carlton just got out of jail for human trafficking. Siobhan is very happy to see him. She looks him over with an expression of pure lust, kisses him, unbuttons his shirt, tugs at his belt, and they get it on standing up in a hallway outside the men’s room where she found him. Why, Mrs. S, we hardly knew you.

So happy to see you, Carlton
So happy to see you, Carlton

Later they sit down for a pint and a talk. We learn that Mrs. S was in the know on Project Leda, that she’s known Sarah was a clone from the start. Makes me wonder if Felix is a clone and we just haven’t been told yet. Carlton mentions someone called The Ferryman, who will no doubt be important later.

Gotta love the double helix stickers on Cosima's computer
Gotta love the double helix stickers on Cosima’s computer

Sarah talks to Cosima and Felix, who have news to share. Rachel’s parents were geneticists doing DNA research. Cosima tells Sarah the Greek myth about Leda. The god Zeus, in the form of a swan, seduces (or rapes) Leda. According to Greek mythology, Leda bore the half-human, half-gods Helen and the twins Castor and Pollux.

Through some smooth tricks, Sarah gets in Rachel’s empty apartment. She’s watching videos of Rachel with her loving parents when the left-for-dead Daniel walks in. He straps Sarah to the plumbing and is about to cut her throat with a straight razor when Helena comes in and makes a bloody mess of him. He’s really dead this time.

Helena and Sarah
Helena and Sarah

The sight of a not-dead Helena terrifies Sarah more than anything she’s endured up to this point. Helena addresses her as sister, says she followed her there from their mother’s house (meaning Mrs. S’s) and advances toward her.

Love ya, sis. Plus, damn, the editing on this show is brilliant.
Love ya, sis. Plus, damn, the editing on this show is brilliant.

Helena wants not to stab her sister with the huge bloody knife, but to give her a full body hug of hello. Helena is surprising in this episode – smarter than she’s seemed before in ways that show both intelligence and self-awareness. Her willingness to embrace the twin who put a bullet in her just a few days ago is also a surprise.

As the episode ends, we see that Henrik (Peter Outerbridge) took an egg from Helena, which is now fertilized and growing in a Petri dish. Big news: Sarah is not the only fertile clone. I imagine the sperm was Henrik’s, since he pictures himself as the godlike swan in Helena’s story.

The quote from Francis Bacon for this episode:

The spirit of man is in fact a thing variable and full of perturbation, and governed as it were by chance.

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?

Watch This: Another Trailer for Tammy

The preview made me laugh so much, I cannot wait for Tammy! And, if Melissa McCarthy wasn’t enough to make you love this movie, it also has Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates.

Continue reading “Watch This: Another Trailer for Tammy”

Glee Goes Elder

Last week on Glee it was Shirley Maclaine singing along with Darren Criss. They sounded terrific together.

Shirley Maclaine and Darren Criss
Shirley Maclaine and Darren Criss

They sang of “Piece of My Heart.”

This week June Squibb was there, singing and dancing with Chris Colfer. The woman can belt! Not only was June Squibb there, but Tim Conway and Billy Dee Williams were also in the cast.

Image from Chris Colfer's Instagram account
Image from Chris Colfer’s Instagram account: http://instagram.com/p/nqyX5xtdYn/#

I cannot find a video of last night’s show, but you can give a listen to June and Chris singing “Memories.”

 

There are a lot more images Chris Colfer’s Instagram account, where he commented that Tim Conway was so funny it made him mess up hundreds of takes.

I don’t know how you feel when you see legendary elders like Shirley Maclaine and June Squibb singing along with the young folks on Glee, but it thrills me in many ways. They’re old, but they ain’t dead! The elders still have it, whatever it is. Age does not hold them back from being fabulous. It’s brilliant of Glee to honor the musical theater stars of yesterday and the traditions from which a show like Glee springs.

A hallmark of Glee‘s success is it’s ability to be inclusive. Gay, staight, trans, differently abled, young, and old – we all celebrate the joy of music and performance and everyone can be part of it. Thank you for going elder, Glee!