Altered Carbon is a science fiction series set in a technologically advanced future where people with money and power could choose to never die. That was the central thesis and conflict in the 10 part series from Netflix. The series touched on many other themes, but superficially. I thought the series tried to do too much.Continue Reading: Review: Altered Carbon
Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy will premier in the U.S. on the Reelz Channel on Memorial Day, May 26. The Canadian drama about women working in a munitions factory during World War II began as a TV series. The two hour movie Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy is the completion of the tale.
The film is set in 1943 as the Battle for the Atlantic rages and the demand for bombs from the women working at Victory Munitions is at its highest. The press release from Reelz Channel explains:
Under constant pressure to turn out more bombs, as well as work on a new secret sonar line, the women of Victory Munitions band together in a tight bond of support and friendship. But when a disturbing menace appears in the form of a saboteur among the factory workers, Gladys Witham (Jodi Balfour), a fiery young woman from privilege, is covertly recruited by Allied Intelligence to find the traitor, forcing her to spy on her best friends, co-workers and fellow agents and call into question everyone and everything she trusts. Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy also stars Oscar(R)-nominee and Golden Globe(R)-winner Meg Tilly as Lorna Corbett, Charlotte Hegele as Kate Andrews, Ali Liebert as Betty McRae, Anastasia Phillips as Vera Burr, Antonio Cupo as Marco Moretti, Peter Outerbridge as Bob Corbett, Michael Seater as Ivan Buchinsky, Jamie Elman as Jakob Berman, and Catherine Berube as Helen Buchinsky.
The press release didn’t mention Tahmoh Penikett, but I’m sure he’s going to be in the cast of the movie since he’s the fellow from Allied Intelligence who recruits Gladys.
Sundays are for watching Bomb Girls on Reelz
Set your DVRs, people. Reelz will run the original TV series in full as well. Announced times for that are:
- Sunday, April 13: Season 1- episodes 1-3 starting at 11am ET
- Sunday, April 20: Season 1- episodes 4-6 starting at 11am ET
- Sunday, April 27: Season 2- episodes 1-3 starting at 11am ET
- Sunday, May 4: Season 2- episodes 4-6 starting at 11am ET
- Sunday, May 11: Season 2- episodes 7-9 starting at 11am ET
- Sunday, May 18: Season 2- episodes 10-12 starting at 11am ET
- Saturday, May 24: Season 1- all six episodes air back to back starting at 11am ET
- Sunday, May 25: Season 2- episodes 1-6 air back to back starting at 11am ET
- Monday, May 26: Season 2- episodes 7-12 air back to back starting at 3pm ET
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.
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.
I’m a Dollhouse fan, so this tweet from @HostilePoet_17 caught my eye.
— Dara (@HostilePoet_17) September 12, 2013
The tweet lead me to this story in TIME Magazine : Memories Can Now Be Created — And Erased — in a Lab. In TIME, the writer talked about the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but I’m with Dara, the story makes me think about the series Dollhouse.
Created by Joss Whedon, Dollhouse was on the air for 2 seasons from 2009-2010. The premise was that the residents of the dollhouse, who were captives, could be remade over and over into new people with new skills as needed for new jobs. Their memories were constantly being erased and rebuilt, depending on what the puppet masters needed them to do. Sit them in a special chair, zap their brains, and suddenly they were skilled surgeons or soldiers or equestrians.
Like Orphan Black allows for virtuoso performances from Tatiana Maslany, Dollhouse allowed the lead characters, particularly Eliza Dushku who played Echo, to be a completely different personality every week. All the actors who played “dolls” had the dream job of demonstrating their chops by inhabiting an ever changing array of personalities and characters.
If you are a Whedon fan, you know that Eliza Dushku also worked with Whedon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Other Whedon regulars who appeared in Dollhouse include Fran Kranz as Topher, the mad scientist who rewired everyone’s brain with aplomb, Amy Acker as (mostly) a doctor who helped take care of the dolls, Alexis Denisof as a Senator, Summer Glau as one of the dolls, and Alan Tudyk as a scary character named Alpha.
Harry Lennix, Tahmoh Penikett, and Olivia Williams were in the cast as characters who ran The House and the dolls. Most of the time these characters would be considered “the bad guys” but that was a bit fuzzy on this show. In addition to Echo, other dolls included Enver Gjokaj as Victor and Dichen Lachman as Sierra.
The conflict and struggle in Dollhouse partly came from the fact that the memory wiping and imprinting process was never quite perfect. For example, Echo always had vague ideas about who she really was and struggled to hold on to that. Victor and Sierra were in love. No matter what personality they had to take on, that basic emotion always seemed to creep back in. The struggle to recall who they really were led the dolls to attempt subterfuge and misdirection in an attempt to save their own memories and to escape from the dollhouse.
Mixed in with that overall story arc of the dolls attempting to get back to who they really were, there were the weekly stories centering around whatever action or job needed to be done by the dolls that week.
You could wipe my brain and make me forget that I’d ever heard of Joss Whedon, but I’d only have to watch one episode of Buffy kicking vampire butt or Echo fighting to retain her true self or or Gina Torres decked out in leather and guns aboard The Serenity to fall in love with his fictional females all over again.
If you missed Dollhouse the first time around, I suggest you watch it now. And if you’ve already seen it, binge watching a second time is a perfect way to spend a weekend.
You can watch both seasons of Dollhouse on Netflix, Amazon or Hulu.
Like many Whedon creations, Dollhouse inspired an obsessive fandom to create a Wiki for the show. If you feel like getting into the details, the Wiki is your happy place.
Images ©20th Century Fox Television