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.
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 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!
Philomena is a tale about an Irish woman searching for the son she was forced to give up. It stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan and will open in late November in theaters.
In a month full of superhero releases, Philomena is one bright spot of a human-sized story about a real woman and her lifelong quest to find her son. If you’ve been thinking of scheduling a movie into your time off for Thanksgiving weekend but don’t want to see Thor or some other violent fantasy hunk bash people, Philomena looks like a wonderful choice.
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.
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!
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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 is the final major female character in the story. She is injured while working the line and has a terrible scar.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
Tatiana Maslany got so much attention for her amazing work in Orphan Black. The series Orphan Black received rave reviews. Orphan Black looks and smells like success and money. How you gonna jump on the Orphan Black bandwagon?
Noomi Rapace is set to play 7 different sisters in What Happened to Monday? The premise of this dystopian sci fi future world is that overpopulation has limited the number of children allowed per family to one.
There are the rules, and then there are 7 baby girls. Seems we have septuplets on our hands. They are hidden away and only allowed to be seen one at a time.
The What Happened to Monday? director is Tommy Wirkola of Hansel and Gretel. Rapace played Lisbeth Salander in the Millennium series films – the original Swedish versions, not the American one – of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. She has also been in several American productions.
There’s more good news for the 7 sisters in What Happened to Monday? They were originally supposed to be 7 brothers, and Wirkola decided Rapace was perfect for the part. So, maybe they are cloning the clones, but they have a good star and what could be a good idea.
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
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.
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
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?
Annika Bengtzon, Crime Reporter is a series of six films in Swedish with English subtitles. They are based on Liza Marklund’s best-selling crime novels.
The six films (with descriptions from Amazon) are:
Nobel’s Last Will: While covering the annual Nobel Prize Banquet, Annika witnesses the spectacular murder of two prestigious individuals right in front of her. She’s a key witness, so she’s bound by the police not to disclose anything. It’s the story of a lifetime, and she can’t write a word.
Prime Time: On her way to a family gathering, Annika has to leave her two children in the care of her boyfriend so she can report on the murder of a famous TV host. The ten people who’d just spent the night at a mansion where the host’s program is taped are under suspicion; Annika learns that her best friend is among them.
Studio Sex: When a stripper from a club called Studio Sex is killed, the case becomes political dynamite after the police find out that the Minister of Trade visited the club on the night of the murder. Working the story also brings up bad memories for Annika and she finds herself taking it all personally.
The Red Wolf: In the dark winter of northern Sweden, a journalist is murdered. Annika senses that the killing is linked to a terrorist attack 40 years ago, about which the journalist knew too much. Her investigation brings her into a world of old loyalties that began with the 1960s leftists and extends into the liberal government of today.
Lifetime: Lonely and divorced, Annika spends most of her time at work to forget her private misfortunes. She reports on the strange case of a young female police officer who’s accused of killing her policeman husband and hiding their young son. She also suspects that there’s more to this story than an enraged wife.
A Place in the Sun: Annika travels to Costa del Sol, Spain, to cover a story about a Swedish family who was killed during a burglary. As she investigates, it becomes clear that the murders are connected to a drug trade that reaches from the hashish farms of Morocco to the streets of Sweden.
The films star Swedish actress Malin Crépin as the workaholic crime reporter Annika Bengtzon. She works at a newspaper on a crime beat and is friends with a number of police sources.
She has two beautiful kids at home, and a husband who whines if she isn’t home being wifely for him whenever he wants a meal or the children picked up. You might guess that the husband doesn’t last through every film in the series. Yep, he gets the boot. Since Annika tends to get very involved in the cases she’s writing about, it’s a constant source of conflict between her work life and home life.
I enjoy a number of things about this series. The acting is very good. The character Annika is brilliant at solving – not just reporting on – crime and often has it figured out before the police do. She’s awesome like that.
The crimes Annika reports on are fascinating – big complex mysteries with important implications and often dangerous for the intrepid reporter.