And Kalinda Just . . . Disappears

When I wrote about what I wanted for the way Kalinda would exit The Good Wife, I knew it would be miles from whatever the writers dreamed up, and it was.

But it was perfect.

Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma
Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma

Kalinda Sharma, played by the wonderful Archie Panjabi, personifies mysterious. She keeps everything carefully guarded and holds her secrets close. That’s the way she departed.

She just left.

No explanations. No obvious goodbyes.

It was perfectly Kalinda.

Well, she may have told Alicia (Julianna Margulies) goodbye. The reason Alicia burst into tears after reading a note from Kalinda at the end of the episode was not clear. Alicia breaking down into tears is extraordinary. I cannot wait to find out what the note said.

Well done writers Michelle King and Robert King!

And, damn it all, I’m really going to miss Kalinda.

I hope any new show Archie Panjabi has lined up is a huge hit and makes us all glad she gave up Kalinda to take the new role.

A Newsy Footnote

Entertainment Weekly says Kalinda will make one final appearance on the show in the season 6 finale, but doesn’t explain if it will be a return visit or what. Much as I’d like to see her hug it out with Alicia, I actually hope for a series of flashbacks. Grey’s Anatomy just used a series of flashbacks to honor Patrick Dempsey’s years on that show. I don’t want The Good Wife to feel like an imitation of that. Yet, while everyone is discussing what happened to Kalinda and why she disappeared, it seems like a perfect time for a series of flashbacks of Kalinda’s prime moments.

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My Life Coach Plan for Alyson Hannigan and Casting Directors Everywhere

Alyson Hannigan tends to take parts in shows that turn out to be wildly popular and last for years. For that reason we usually see her as a sweetheart of a character for long stretches of time.

Alyson Hannigan in Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1997
Alyson Hannigan in Buffy the Vampire Slayer from 1997

The result is that when we think of Alyson Hannigan we think of the nerdy and loyal best friend in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the funny, mild-mannered wife on How I Met Your Mother. A 7 year run and a 9 year run. Long runs as one character.

Alyson Hannigan, Josh Radnor, and  Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother from 2012
Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan, and Josh Radnor in How I Met Your Mother from 2012

Her long-running gigs make us forget something: Alyson Hannigan can do a whole lot more than we think she can as an actress. She’s had these two iconic parts in two iconic long-term shows that prevent her from showing different stuff. I believe she’s got different stuff to show.

Dark Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer was awesome. Alyson Hannigan nailed Dark Willow. Scary and very sexy. Alyson played flamboyant and over the top in Veronica Mars, even though her part was small there. I’m giving you those two cases as examples of different stuff.

Dan Aykroyd, Jon Lovitz, and Alyson Hannigan in My Stepmother is an Alien from 1988
Jon Lovitz, Alyson Hannigan and Dan Aykroyd in My Stepmother is an Alien from 1988

She’s been in about a billion things since her first listing from 1985 on IMDB – movies, TV series, animated shows. Obviously, she can act. My point is, you probably don’t think of her as one of those talented actresses who can do everything well.

I think you should.

As the unappointed and unwanted life coach for Alyson Hannigan, I have some post How I Met Your Mother suggestions. I hope she’ll spend some time doing a few guest spots on wildly different shows – a lone survivor on The Walking Dead and some evil archetype on Once Upon a Time and a quirky visiting doctor on Grey’s Anatomy and a murderous Soviet spy on The Americans. Mix it up. Remind everyone that she’s got the different stuff.

Then she can go find another steady job that will last 7 or 8 years.

Casting directors everywhere should be reading this and taking it to heart. Hello? Casting directors?

33 Experts and Me Share Notable Female Characters

Bo from Lost Girl and the words 33 experts and me

I read a wonderful article called 33 Experts Share Their Notable Female Characters Of Recent Years at Bang2Write.

Bang2Write asked screenwriters, directors, literary agents and other industry pros to talk about the female characters they thought were most important in recent years.

The names they mentioned were absolute favorites of mine: Carrie from Homeland, Kalinda from The Good Wife, Lizbeth from the Millennium Trilogy, Catherine from Happy Valley, Stella from The Fall, the women from Scott & Bailey and Last Tango in Halifax, Hushpuppy from Beasts of the Southern Wild, Michonne and Carol from The Walking Dead, various clones from Orphan Black, practically everyone from Orange is the New Black.

There were many more names mentioned by these experts. I loved reading their reasons and explanations for why they picked certain characters. I loved the females they named.

As I read each of the picks by the 33 experts I was surprised that no one mentioned Bo from Lost Girl. There are some awesome female characters on Lost Girl. Particularly Bo, who is strong and growing increasingly more powerful. She wears her power with grace and uses it with heart. She’s unaligned with either side in her world. She’s protective of those she loves. She makes mistakes – huge ones. She’s less than perfect, but she’s searching, yearning to improve.

Bo’s bisexual. As far as I know the only other female bi characters on television are Callie on Grey’s Anatomy and Kalinda on The Good Wife. Bisexual women are misunderstood and mistreated by the culture at large and even by the LGBT community. Since I’m a believer that #RepresentationMatters, I think having a bi character portrayed in a positive light is a powerful thing.

So while I agree with every single female named by the experts, I want to mention Bo as one they forgot. I’m not an expert. I’m merely a consumer of movies and television with notable female characters – I look for them every day. I seldom watch anything that does not have notable female characters. I support notable female characters with enthusiasm.

But don’t forget Bo on Lost Girl.

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

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

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

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

What Shondaland will Cause on Rhimesday Nights

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

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

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

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.

What about Sofia if Callie and Arizona Split?

In the season opener of Grey’s Anatomy last week, we saw the first reaction by Callie (Sara Ramirez) to Arizona’s (Jessica Capshaw) infidelity. Hurt and angry, Callie takes Sofia and leaves. She takes up residence on Derek and Meredith’s couch for a while.

It takes Callie one day to talk to Arizona about a schedule for sharing Sofia. She can’t discuss anything else about their relationship without crying, but she’s willing to talk about Sofia.

Sara Ramirez and Jessica Capshaw with baby Sofia
Sara Ramirez and Jessica Capshaw with baby Sofia

(IMDB does not give the real name of the child playing Sofia.)

Before the wedding, before the baby, Arizona had to be converted to the idea of parenthood. I clearly remember the episode when she embraced the idea of mothering Sofia. In fact, I wrote about it way back then.

A quick recap: Arizona and Mark argued about who was more important to save after the car wreck – Callie or the baby. Mark argued that he should have more say in the decision because he was the baby’s biological father and Arizona was “nothing.” Both Callie and the baby were saved, of course, and Arizona was at Callie’s bedside when she woke up. Arizona said, “I don’t feel like nothing. I feel like our baby’s mother.” Here’s what I wrote earlier:

It’s the line I feel like our baby’s mother that I want to talk about as important. Once the heart moves into that place of parenting, a family is born. For same sex couples like Callie and Arizona, or for adoptive parents from any configuration of family you can imagine, this is the bond, the spiritual tether. The parental bond, once formed, is what creates a family that will cherish and nurture a child.

This is what’s remarkable about Shonda Rhimes and this particular story about a two-mom family: from the first suggestion that there might be a split between the two women, they were written as equal parents to little Sofia. Shonda Rhimes gets the “parental bond” between both parents and their daughter.

Shonda Rhimes gives us drama and conflict, and plenty of it. Bumps in Callie and Arizona’s relationship are a part of that, but it looks as if their baby isn’t going to be a source of the conflict.

I’m rooting for Callie and Arizona to work it out. I really hope Shonda Rhimes wants them to be together and happy, too. Until we find out what happens, I’m glad to see her treating an adoptive parent as equal to a biological one. It’s further proof that Shonda Rhimes can write about same sex couples and treat them as she would any other couple.

Images ©ABC and Shonda Rhimes.

Dishing About this Week’s Season Openers

All the season openers for the week have aired now. Let’s talk about how they did.

The two that I thought did the best job starting the new season off with a bang were Castle and Bones.

Stana Katic and Nathan Fillian in Castle
Stana Katic and Nathan Fillian in Castle

Castle jumped right out of the gate with action, conflict and new situations. Beckett is busy in Washington D.C. in a new job and the newly engaged couple are missing each other. Castle can’t keep from meddling in her cases and trying to keep their relationship exactly like it was before. Alexis comes home with a boyfriend in tow – a boyfriend who makes a mess in the kitchen cooking vegan steaks out of hunks of papaya. The episode was fast, fun, and gave us a glimpse into where the season is headed with Beckett in D.C. and Castle in NYC.

Yes, Bones can be formulaic. However, this week was hilarious, with Bones and Booth going undercover as a couple of Jersey shore types to solve a murder at a couples retreat. In other storylines, Angela wants to quit working at the Jeffersonian, and Sweets is having a crisis of his own about his career path. Camille has been targeted by a recurring bad guy who is messing with her identity, credit, and finances. We had a fun plot line to get us going and ongoing problems for future episodes. Perfection.

And the Others Are . . .

Connie Britton and Lennon Stella in Nashville
Connie Britton and Lennon Stella in Nashville

Much as I love Nashville, it got off to a slow start, mainly because Rayna spent the majority of the episode in a coma. Connie Britton is the soul of this show, and we simply cannot have her lying in a bed doing nothing. Juliette released a new album while pretending to be concerned about Rayna’s condition, Scarlett quit her job as a waitress at the BlueBird to go record an album on Rayna’s new record label, Gunnar might be growing up a bit, Teddy’s girlfriend is lying to him about being pregnant, and Deacon is blaming himself for every bad thing that ever happened on the face of the earth. Deacon is caught in one of the most grandiose shame spirals ever – much credit to Charles Esten for playing it so powerfully. Rayna finally woke up at the end of the episode which means I’m really looking forward to next week.

Taylor Kinney in Chicago Fire
Taylor Kinney in Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire was a bit same-old, same-old. The plot mainly revolved around Taylor Kinney’s character Severide. An arsonist is out to get Severide with personal attacks. Renée is home from Paris, pregnant and wanting Severide to be her baby daddy. Good grief, why does everyone want Severide for their baby daddy? Shay, who hasn’t managed to get pregnant yet herself, points out to Severide that the math on Renée’s due date doesn’t add up. Man, what a week Severide is having. I know Severide had high hopes for Renée – heaven knows they were sexy together – but I think being busy shooting people with a rifle on a rooftop in Person of Interest puts her in the she’s just not that into you category. The question is, what reason will the writers dream up for him to use to dump her. Arithmetic?

Speaking of Person of Interest, the dream pairing Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker didn’t have any scenes together this week. Sarah Shahi was shooting people from a rooftop and not interested in finding a baby daddy.  Amy Acker was being mysterious while having conversations with a shrink. I’m looking forward to seeing where her story arc takes us.

The Grey’s Marathon

Ellen Pompeo in Grey's Anatomy
Ellen Pompeo in Grey’s Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy charged into its 10th season with a two-hour opener. My first thought was how cute Tina Majorino looked with her short hair. She’s my favorite of the new doctors, along with Gaius Charles, who always reminds me of Friday Night Lights, which always makes me happy. All that cute and happy screeched to a halt when Shane sent Heather to look for Richard who’s been lying electrocuted in a puddle of water ever since the end of last season. Yep, Heather steps in the water and gets electrocuted. Even Derek and his magical brain surgery skills cannot save her. The rest of the first-year interns bond over Heather’s death and their daunting assignment to tell her mother stories about what a great person she was. Tina, I’m gonna miss you.

Yang and Bailey manage to save Richard while arguing about how to do it for 2 hours.

In other parts of the Grey’s universe, Callie is hurt and angry at Arizona. They fight and cry for 2 hours. One light moment in the Callie and Arizona crisis comes when Karev advises Arizona to apologize to Callie by saying, “Sorry I’m such a slut.”

Christina and Owen break up again, but they keep having sex because they want to create a perfect last-time-we-ever-had-sex to remember.

Meredith has a new baby named Bailey and some further medical complication which keeps her in her bed. Her hospital room is the calm eye of the storm where everyone goes from time to time to hold the baby and have a quiet moment.

Lots of other stuff happened: Kepner decides who she actually loves this week, Karev remains a chick magnet, and lots of people need heroic medical help. Hang on, Grey’s is underway for a 10th year.

New TV season shows I can’t wait to see

The summer shows are fun and I love quite a few of them, but I’m eager for the new seasons of some old favorites. Here’s what I’m looking forward to. What about you?

Lost Girl

Season 4 can’t get here soon enough for me. It airs first in Canada on Showcase beginning in November. Then there’s an agonizing wait for the U.S. showings on SyFy. At the end of season 3, Bo was off somewhere unknown meeting her father – maybe. Dyson and Tamsin disappeared in a puff of black smoke when their truck went over a cliff. Lauren was in a science lab creating Fae from humans and nobody knew where she went after everyone else escaped. Kenzi was driving a hot car with Bruce beside her. Trick had gone to Scotland with his lady love. And where the heck was Hale? Obviously the beginning of season 4 requires explaining where everyone has been and how they all get back together.

Guest stars that have been mentioned for season 4 include George Takei (from Star Trek), Mia Kirshner (from The L Word), and Ali Liebert (from Bomb Girls). If the guest stars are any indication, things should be fun on Lost Girl.

Here’s a bit of a teaser for season 4. Lost Girl season 4 is currently filming in Toronto.

House of Cards

House of Cards was Netflix first attempt at original programming and it was superb! (I can’t wait for season 2 of Netflix’s other great series, Orange is the New Black, either.) House of Cards won’t show up until sometime in the spring of 2014, but it is definitely worth the wait if it maintains the quality it had in season 1.

This political drama felt completely real. Or if not real, at least valid and true. Stars Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, and Kate Mara were especially good, but the cast was large and there were many compelling performances.

Netflix released this trailer for season 2, which is currently filming in the Baltimore area.

Nashville

Nashville season 2 begins in September 25 on ABC, less than a month away. I love anything with singing (Glee, Smash, Nashville – I’ll watch ’em all.) People we don’t normally think of as musicians are leading the cast of this show and doing a really fine job as Nashville singing stars: Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere, and Charles Esten in particular. Clare Bowen is my favorite in terms of singing. She plays Scarlett, a folky type who reminds me of Emmy Lou Harris.

A theme of the show has been the conflict between young and old country music, personified by Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton. They get forced together in ways they don’t want and are very different. Both have confused personal lives and troubled love lives. A troubled love life leads to the finale of season 1, which was a disastrous car wreck.

I don’t know if you were a fan of Friday Night Lights (if you weren’t, you should have been) but there is just something completely wonderful about Connie Britton. She’s fabulous. I’m so glad we get to see her in another great series – with SINGING.

Here’s a teaser for season 2.

Grey’s Anatomy

Season 10. Can you believe it? We’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy since Shonda Rhimes only had one show on TV. They announced recently that Sandra Oh is leaving the show. What will Meredith do without her person?

The new season begins in September with a 2 part opening episode. At the end of season 9, Arizona and Callie were in danger of breaking up, Richard was possibly electrocuted, Meredith was pregnant – the usual Grey’s drama. Over the years Grey’s has had its wins and losses, people have come and gone, story lines have succeeded and failed. But it’s always been engaging and I keep going back.

I couldn’t find an actual preview video for season 10, but three of the cast members do talk about season 10 in this video.

The Good Wife

I say that I want to see the new season of The Good Wife with some trepidation. Season 4 wasn’t good. They lost their way a bit. There were fabulous guest stars, but those guest stars got too much of the screen time, there were too many court room scenes, Kalinda’s (Archie Panjabi) story was just dropped, and Alicia (Julianna Margulies) can’t figure out what the holy hell she’s doing. I think Alicia is fascinating in her own guarded and self-contained way. However, the queen of self-contained and guarded is Kalinda. She is the most interesting character in The Good Wife. If we don’t see more of her in season 5, I think it’s going to be the end for me and The Good Wife.

When season 4 ended, Alicia was leaving Lockhart Gardner to start a new firm with Cary. That will add some drama to the relationships we already have going on the show. We don’t know where Kalinda will end up – I sincerely hope it’s with Alicia and Cary, but there haven’t been any clues.

The new season starts in September. Here’s a teaser. It seems to acknowledge that the show went off the rails a bit in season 4 with its claims to be back.

Scandal

Scandal, like House of Cards, has a ring of truth about politics and Washington that makes it fascinating. This Shonda Rhimes series begins in September with season 3.

I could talk about Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn and the other excellent cast members. They deserve the attention. Instead, I want to make a big fuss over Guillermo Díaz.

Guillermo Díaz has been around a while. You may remember him from Mercy or Weeds. There are currently 78 titles on his filmography page at IMDB, so I know you’ve seen him before in more than one thing. But the job he’s doing as Huck on Scandal is phenomenally outstanding. He should have had an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor, but he didn’t get one. As a defender of justice I’m here to announce that Guillermo Díaz is doing amazing work on Scandal and he should get a million awards for acting.

Now that I’m finished with my Guillermo Díaz rant, I can get back to the bigger picture on Scandal, which is the steely and powerful Olivia Pope and her Machiavellian schemes to control situations for people in Washington who screw up, including the President. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.

This promo video is more about Kerry Washington’s Emmy nom than season 3, but it’s the only thing available right now.

I haven’t even mentioned The Walking Dead or How I Met Your Mother, which is on its last season, or Elementary, or Castle or a whole lot of other good shows. Which of your favorites are you most eager to see?

Guillermo Diaz image from The Jasmine Brand.