Review: The Politician, season 1

The Politician, the latest production from Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy, is equal parts brilliant and scattered. It’s pretentiously adult but set in a high school. Thematically it jumps around from one idea to another and never quite lands. Ryan Murphy regulars abound. Yet overall, it’s wonderful.

Continue Reading: Review: The Politician, season 1

Review: Grace and Frankie Season 2

Grace and Frankie season 2 hit Netflix over the weekend and I watched all 13 episodes by late Sunday evening. My brief review is this: so damn good. A longer review follows, complete with some spoilers, so be aware.

The premise of Grace and Frankie is that two couples Grace and Robert (Jane Fonda and Martin Sheen) and Frankie and Sol (Lily Tomlin and Sam Waterston), who have been friends for many years, break apart because the husbands have been lovers for 20 years. The men plan to marry each other. The wives, who don’t particularly like each other, are stuck as roommates in one of the family homes surviving the 2 divorces. Continue Reading: Review: Grace and Frankie Season 2

How Episode 3 Hooked Me on Proof

I’ve been watching Proof. Episode 3 “Showdown” was on last week. Although I had no specific gripes with Proof, I wasn’t really hooked yet.

Joe Morton, Matthew Modine and Jennifer Beals in a scene from Proof

The cast is terrific. Joe Morton, Matthew Modine, Jennifer Beals – all pretty much wow. And there’s Dr. Tyler’s ex-husband played by David Sutcliffe, her intern played by Edi Gathegi and her daugher played by Annie Thurman – it’s all good. But that isn’t what hooked me.

Episode 3 hooked me. (There are spoilers ahead.)

A scene from Proof with David Chisum, Ryan Robbins and Josh Cooke

These three guys show up in episode 3. On the right is Dr. Daniel Powell (David Chisum). The other two guys (Ryan Robbins & Josh Cooke) are undergoing a past life regression with him in this scene.

The episode opens with a battle during the Korean War. It’s being told as a past life regression story in a lecture being given by Dr. Powell. Dr. Carolyn (Cat) Tyler is there with her intern to “keep an open mind.” Dr. Tyler is skeptical of everything about the idea of finding proof of life after death, even though she agreed to investigate it. Past life regression is one of the things the billionaire played by Matthew Modine insists she investigate.

When the lecture ends, we learn that Cat and Dr. Powell went to med school together and have warm feelings for each other. As they exit the lecture venue, another man comes up and accuses the man who told the Korean War story of stealing it from him. Dr. Powell does more past life regressions with these two. We go back again and again to the battle scene, the two men, the explosions and wounds and soldiers falling. Finally, in a joint scene where the two are hypnotized together, we find out both of them were there in past lives, and they were in love. One said it out loud as he was dying, the other man couldn’t get the words out.

Hence, lingering emotional trauma for the past life regressions to dredge up. Dr. Tyler is watching all this and trying to keep an open mind, even though she thinks it is a crazy hallucination. Meanwhile, Cat and Daniel Powell have been reminiscing and flirting and talking a lot. They end up in a sex scene that was fascinating. Jennifer Beals made an L Word joke about it on Twitter, but I found it remarkable.

The scene opened looking over the surface of a still-made hotel room bed with sex happening on the floor on the other side of the bed. We see Jennifer Beals’ back as she raises up, some obviously sexual motions, the moving hands of the man under her and that’s it. No pounding music, no loud moaning, no heavy breathing. In fact, no kissing.

I hope other network shows look at this and think about what can be done with sexy scenes.Later we see them in the bed, talking, holding hands, touching. They are relaxed. This was not a sex scene for the male gaze (and this is from a male director, Alex Graves). I thought it was really sexy and hope other network shows look at this and think about what can be done with sexy scenes.

In this relaxed moment, the camera circles round and shoots them from above their heads, as if Dr. Tyler’s world is turned upside down. That’s when Daniel Powell convinces Cat Tyler to try hypnosis and regression herself.

The regression takes Cat Tyler to the day her son was killed in a car wreck. She was driving. She woke in the emergency room, frantic about her son. The whole memory is violent and chaotic and emotionally charged, with Jennifer Beals doing a stunning acting job.

The woman in the green scarf played by Gabrielle Rose

In every episode so far, Cat Tyler catches a glimpse of a woman in a green scarf. It’s confused her because she knows rationally that the woman isn’t there. She’s there again in the ER in Cat’s memory of the day her son died. Cat asks Dr. Richmond (Morton) about brain processes that could create a vision of something that isn’t there are he gives her a rational explanation.

When Cat comes out of the hypnosis, she literally runs from the hotel room. Outside on the sidewalk, she is almost brought to her knees by the impact of what she re-experienced.

There is really no way to actually know if there is life after death. I like that Proof isn’t taking a position on it. But here’s this science-based skeptic of a physician who experienced near death herself and who has now done this regression exercise. Her intellect and her emotions are in conflict.

Everything about Jennifer Beals’ acting in this series has been outstanding. Her skepticism, her confidence as a doctor, her concern for her family, her grief over her son’s death, her own near death experience, even her talent as a flirt – all believable and masterfully done. Her performance in this episode goes beyond that excellence into a category deserving recognition. Awards, people, I’m talking awards. And shit if I’m not good and hooked on this show.

So, tell me. What’s your reaction to Proof?

UPDATE: In case you missed Proof when it was live you can buy it on Amazon Video [Proof]

All Images @TNT

Review: Grace and Frankie Season 1

Grace and Frankie hit Netflix last weekend and I watched every episode. It was a bit uneven, but I loved it anyway.

Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen in Frankie and Grace

Spoilers ahead. Continue Reading: Review: Grace and Frankie Season 1

Watch This: Extended Trailer for Proof

Proof released an extended preview for the show which begins on TNT on June 16. We get a bit more of scenes with Jennifer Beals, Matthew Modine, and Joe Morton than the previous previews.

I’ve tried to identify faces in the trailer. There’s no need to explain who Jennifer Beals, Matthew Modine, and Joe Morton are. I think the young woman playing Dr. Russo’s daughter is Annie Thurman, if the character Sophie is Russo’s daughter. The youngish looking African American man is played by Edi Gathegi. Callum Blue is in the cast; I think he’s another doctor.

Three of the 7 producers on Proof are women, including Kyra Sedgewick. Alex Graves is director and Rob Bragin is the writer.

Brain Dump: Characters We Love to Hate

A brain dump is a series of short thoughts on this and that. Today I have a theme: characters we love to hate.

American Crime

The cast of American Crime. Photo © 2014 American Broadcasting Companies
Some of the cast of American Crime. Photo © 2014 American Broadcasting Companies

I have not discovered one likeable character in American Crime. Every person in the story – from the cops to the victims to the families to the criminals – is truly fucked up. I can admire the acting. I can say, “Wow, Felicity Huffman (or Timothy Hutton or Caitlin Gerard or Richard Cabral) is doing a fantastic acting job.” Huffman’s character in particular is the most distasteful person. I cannot bring myself to like her.

Since this drama is a reflection on the American legal system, on American racial (in)justice, and on American family values it makes sense that there isn’t much to like. But, dang, I wish there was some little thread to hold on to.


Hayden Panettiere in Nashville
Hayden Panettiere in Nashville

Well, they haven’t dubbed her “The Queen of Mean” for nothing on Nashville. Hayden Panettiere as Juliette Barnes has never been a sweetheart, but pregnancy and motherhood have turned her into a complete shrew. Why Avery (Jonathan Jackson) loves her is beyond understanding. Why her employees put up with her is a mystery. That Rayna (Connie Britton) maintains Juliette on her record label is amazing. Hayden Panettiere deserves much credit for being so convincing as a super-bitch season after season.


Joe Morton in Scandal. Image © 2014 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
Joe Morton in Scandal. Image © 2014 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

Everyone in Scandal has questionable ethics. It’s the ends, not the means, that count on Scandal. Let’s face it, neither of Olivia Pope’s (Kerry Washington) parents are good role models. The people who work for her are truly scary. But Joe Morton as Rowan Pope has always been the worst of the worst.

Lately on the show Olivia has needed a white hat, a good guy. As Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) said in Orphan Black, she’s hoping for one good person in a corrupt world. Olivia’s having trouble finding even one good person. She’s turned on her dad, hoping to see him jailed for his multitude of crimes, but he’s so powerful he may either kill or destroy everything in Olivia’s world if she persists.

I’d hate to see Rowan Pope eliminated from this show. Joe Morton is outstanding in the part. But once in a while, even in the putrid world of Washington politics, don’t the good guys win? Or are there no good guys in Washington politics?

Watch This: Kyra Sedgwick Talks about Casting Jennifer Beals in Proof + Trailers

The new TNT series Proof will begin this summer, on the schedule right after Rizzoli and Isles. Series producer Kyra Sedgwick recently talked about casting Jennifer Beals as a thorasic surgeon, the lead character in Proof.

A couple of trailers for Proof have been released, which I didn’t post here yet. This seems like a perfect time to make up for that omission.

Joe Morton and Matthew Modine are other well-known actors in this series.

The following one you may want to click off at the end so further video from Yahoo doesn’t keep playing.

New Rules for the Emmys

I’m more interested in the Emmys than the Oscars. After 3 hours of watching the Oscars last night, there were 2 awards given to women. Big whoop. The Television Academy has more female writers, directors, cinematographers and such to choose from. So changes in the Emmy rules may be significant.

The Television Academy announced several new rules for the Emmy Awards. This brings up issues about how favorite shows or actors might be affected by the new rules.

The change getting the most attention says that henceforth, one hour shows will be considered dramas, and half hour shows will be considered comedies.

Shows can petition the Academy to be assigned to a different category, but as things stand that means shows such as Orange is the New Black, which formerly competed in the comedy category, will be going up against dramas like The Good Wife. On the other hand, shows like Nurse Jackie will be in the comedy category.

The number of nominees in best drama and comedy series categories increased from 6 to 7. This is in acknowledgement of the fact that television has proliferated and there are more shows than there were before. Even though some shows will be in a different category than they were before, there’s one more chance at making it into the nominations.

The TV Academy also took on the question of what is a series and what is a limited series. If a show has “an ongoing storyline, theme and main characters” from season to season it’s a series. If a drama tells one self-contained story over a season, it’s a limited series.

To be nominated as a guest star, the actor cannot have appeared in more than 50% of the shows in the series. This cuts out people who appear in almost every episode but are listed as guest stars in the credits. That rule, were in place before now, would have affected winners such as Desperate Housewives’ Kathryn Joosten,  Orange Is The New Black’s Uzo Aduba, and Scandals Joe Morton.

The variety category is being split into variety talk show and variety sketch show.

There will be more voters in the final round than before. Everyone eligible to vote in the nomination round may also vote in the final round. There’s a caveat for voting in the final round: voters must watch the required submitted material online and attest to no specific conflicts of interest with the nominees.

The 2015 Emmy Awards will be announced on Sept. 20, 2015.

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.

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?