New TV Obsession: Body of Proof

Primetime on Demand is a wonderful thing. I meant to check out Body of Proof when it first came out. After all, forensic based criminal dramas with quirky characters are my niche. Yet, I’m a real spaz when it comes to turning on my TV at the appropriate time to catch shows as they broadcast. Call me DVR/On Demand/Watch Instantly dependent if you want, but I like to think of myself as busy with real life. Anyway, I managed to miss the premiere of Body of Proof, and forgot it even existed until I was searching my Primetime on Demand for something to watch this weekend.

Body of Proof is about a medical examiner named Megan Hunt. Dr. Hunt was a celebrated neurosurgeon before she got into a car accident (her car battled a semi-truck and lost). Years later, she still has numbness in her hands and is forced to accept the fact she will never again be a neurosurgeon. Since “you can’t kill someone who’s already dead,” Dr. Hunt becomes a medical examiner, one who apparently desires to be an investigator as well. She’s more interested in why someone died than her job requires her to be. She is charged with figuring out what killed someone and how they died–suicide, homicide, etc.–but she has a curious fascination with the whys and wherefores of the cases she is assigned to.

Aside from her job, Megan has an ex-husband and an estranged daughter in the picture as well. Her ex-husband was awarded full custody, because, as she tells her “partner” (more on that later), “a woman who works eighteen hour days is a bad mother; a man who works eighteen hour days is a good provider.”

Dr. Hunt’s “partner” is a medical investigator (a position I’m almost certain someone made up), a sort of liasion between Hunt and the police detectives she works with. Hunt’s bosses at the medical examiner’s office include Philadelphia’s first female Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Kate Murphy, and Dr. Curtis Brumfield, the Deputy Chief Medical Examiner.

As a pilot episode, this one wasn’t as strong as the pilot for Fairly Legal. While Dr. Hunt’s sarcasm, intellectual superiority and inner turmoil are engaging to watch, some of the other characters are played too aggressively to type for my tastes. For example, the ex-husband’s harshness seems overboard and unnecessary for the history that has thus far been revealed. Also, Detective Morris, the male half of the detective duo on this episode, is a little too hard nosed, averse to science, and deliberately dense. I’m hoping the reasons for playing these characters this way will come to light and make sense in later episodes. The medical investigator, Dunlap, seems way too philosophical and introspective at present. He seems custom made to deliver the moral of the story to Dr. Hunt, and connect the case they are working on to her everyday life. It felt a little heavy handed to me.

Despite some typical pilot episode hiccups, I enjoyed Body of Proof and plan to keep watching. Dr. Hunt’s character is complex enough to hold my interest while the rest of the cast is fleshed out and the cases become more interesting and complex. My hope is that the other characters actually do become fleshed out and the cases get more complex. Here’s to hope.  

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TV on DVD Obsession*: Bones

Why, oh why haven’t I written this post before?! I guess because I thought I’d done it already. Bones was my very first TV on DVD Obsession, and still remains one of them today. This show has the best of all the elements of a good crime drama/ TV show: character, a good continuous story arch/line, compelling cases, wonderful discovery scenes.

My mother used to rave about this show (yes, my mother is the best TV show picker EVER! :D), urging me to watch it. We were both big fans of CSI from the very beginning, as we’d loved Forensic Files and other true crime shows. Once the glut of crime TV began, in both the crime drama and true crime variety, I became more and more selective of which of these shows I watched. A girl could spend her whole life watching dead people; that can’t be healthy.

Since Netflix came up with Watch Instantly, and I became the last person in the world to discover the wonders of DVR, I have been able to remedy a lot of my TV watching deficits. Bones was one of the first shows I began watching on NWI, and I immediately fell in love with it.

Bones is Temperance Brennan, a bestselling author and forensic anthropologist who works at the Jeffersonian museum. Her and her team–a forensic entomologist, a facial reconstruction artist, a managing anthropologist (later a medical examiner/manager), and an intern–are often tapped by the FBI to help them solve homicides with skeletal (or grossly flesh-laden) remains. The liaison with the FBI, Agent Booth (a descendent of John Wilkes Booth, ironically), is Bones’ partner. Together, this hodgepodge of geeky “squints” (as Agent Booth calls them) and a FBI agent form a loving, cohesive, crime fighting whole.

Going on in the background of solving cases you have the sexual tension between Bones and Booth, the office romance of Angela (the facial reconstruction artist) and Dr. Hodgins (the entomologist), the relationship of an intern with the forensic psychologist from the FBI (who frequently helps with cases and does therapy sessions for Bones, Booth, and pretty much everyone else), Dr. Sweets, a couple serial killer plot lines, Brennan’s family issues, and other assort mayhem.

Most of the episodes either begin with a discovery of a body by unsuspecting yokels or Bones and Booth at the scene of a crime where there’s something unusual going on with the body (in one episode some bones glowed green in the dark).  After much hijinks, more startling finds, and aha moments, they solve the case, the backstories build a little more, and you hate to see the ending credits.

What works: The chemistry between Emily Deschanel and David Boreanz as Bones and Booth, an integral part of the show; the intermarriage of science versus faith (Bones is atheist and Booth is Catholic) and scientific data vs. instincts; Bones social awkwardness and genius intellect alongside Booth’s smooth man’s man, sharpshooter hero complex; the oddly lovable Lance Sweets and Dr. Jack Hodgins; the subtlety of the sexual tension between Bones and Booth; the unique cases that are depicted.

What doesn’t work: the revolving interns–a result of a major plot shake up, it’s not that I don’t like them individually (some of them are great), but some of them were a bit over played, and I liked the way they originally fulfilled this capacity; that one storyline/ episode that was all a dream that one time–I hate those! Never, ever do this again. 

Overall, I think there’s a lot more to love than to hate on this show. I’m still waiting with bated breath for season 6 (?) to hit DVD, so no spoilers, please.

*Since I’m going to do the PostAWeek2011 challenge in this blog, I figured introducing some staples/topical posts was in order. This is one of the first ones, TV on DVD Obession. I will profile any TV shows I have discovered on DVD rather than on television. Suggestions are welcome.

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The Social Network

Before the movie The Social Network began to get buzz in Hollywood ahead of its theatrical release, I’d never thought much about the kind of person/personality behind a site like Facebook. Once the movie began to generate the aforementioned buzz, it crossed my mind that this person would be someone most people wouldn’t “like.” Most geniuses, especially those of the computer/technical variety, don’t do well with social interaction for one of two reasons (usually): either they are shy or they are megalomaniacal. Due in large part to the previews, I assumed Mark Zukerberg to be the latter.

Only, the way the movie portrayed Mark Zukerberg was (thankfully) more layered than I’d expected. At the core, his motives were universal to teens/college students–to be cool, be accepted, to fit in with an exclusive crowd. He wanted to have the three P’s–power, popularity, and praise. To a much lesser extent, he wanted money.

When I watch a movie, five things stick out to me: character, plot, setting, cinematography (what little I know about it), and the all important one liners/dialogue. Here’s my take five for The Social Network.

Characters: The Mark Zuckerberg character was classic–bored computer genius with a dash of biting sarcasm, dying to be popular but not wanting to let it show; obsessed with being cool; socially inept (to the point of rudeness). The speech pattern that the actor gave him was spot on to most of the tech people I talk to. Not only did he have the “geek speech pattern” down, he also had the mannerisms down. Indeed, most of the “geeks” did a good job portraying this college subset.

Edouardo was played very well. I think the actor did a great job of escalating Edouardo’s feelings of being shut off and made his motivations clear, so it didn’t seem he was overplaying the part when he got angry.

The Shaun Parker character was pretty well acted as well. JT made me forget he was JT. 

Lastly, the twins were hilarious. Every time the twins were onscreen, I laughed about something.

 Plot: First of all, let me start with the “bad.” The love angle was WEAK. I’m sorry, I don’t believe it. It wasn’t that the acting was bad or anything; it just didn’t make sense. Whether it’s true or not, I just don’t buy it. Also, the way they portrayed Zuckerberg discovering the need for a relationship status could have been cut. It was just silly. The timeline was murky. I had thefacebook very early, and I had tagging well before the time I think it was when they mentioned it in the movie. I almost wanted a little date to show up on the bottom in parts. I know the pacing was set to convey the whirlwind of the phenomena, but help me keep up with the timeline. Lastly, I didn’t like how they wrapped up action of the movie. I was dissatisfied with the last exchange between Zuckerberg and the person he was talking to. It went too fast, wrapped things up to quickly, and the last thing said to him was like hitting me over the head with something that, if I was even remotely paying attention, I would have been able to conclude on my own. We got it, already!

As for the good elements: I think the issue of intellectual property was dealt with well. They did a great job of progressing the development of the site. The explanation of the concept of facebook–to move the social experience online and have it be cool–was interesting. I liked the way they arranged the story to be told alternating between the hearings and when the events actually happened.

Setting/Cinematography: I liked the dark mood created by much of the cinematography of the story, contrasted by the almost blinding light of the hearings. The bar scene at the beginning was amazing to watch because of the contrast of what they were saying to where they were saying it. The darkness of the scenes made them feel secretive, shady, a little less than above board, while the lightness of the hearings added to the feeling of everything being dragged out into the open.

One Liners/Dialogue: I loved the “why does your status say ‘single’?” line because it was true to life (I’ve seen people having these conversations). I think one of the funniest exchanges in the movie was “Why do you keep saying I don’t have to study?” “You go to BU.” (Note: I know a few  people that went to BU, so this was doubly funny to me.) In fact, this whole opening exchange was funny. As aforementioned, the wrap up at the end, in my opinion, was a misstep. Other than that, the dialogue was spot on.

I feel about this movie the same way I feel about Inception: it was a solid movie, not exceptional in a great movie season, but when it came out, is was among the best simply because it was good. From what I hear, Black Swan, The King’s Speech, and 127 Hours by and large blows this film out of the water. It’s a good film, with strong acting, a solid plot, good cinematography, and a top notch script. I was thoroughly satisfied with my $.75 purchase (I saw this at our discount theater that has $.75 movies on Tuesdays).

My rating: ****/A

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New TV Obsession: The Cape

Captain America's costume displays many featur...

Superhero TV shows do better when animated...like this Image via Wikipedia

I DVRed the pilot episode of The Cape at the first opportunity. When I saw the commercial for it, I knew it was something I’d be interested in seeing. After all, I’d watched Loise & Clark, and I’d meant to watch Smallville. I’d even seen an episode or two of Kyle XY. I love superheroes (we won’t get into why I have yet to watch Heroes, thanks). And this one had something that many other superheroes shoes didn’t: Keith David. Keith David’s voice is one of the most interesting I’ve ever heard. It sounds…conniving, no matter what he says or how he says it. It’s oily. It’s like a snake charmer. It’s wonderful. (He was the voice of Angelina Jolie’s boss in Mr. & Mrs. Smith).

Here’s the thing, though: I knew it wouldn’t catch on. Most superheroes don’t generate enough mystery and ingenue to keep an audience interested for longer than the length of a movie. It’s true; for every hit show based on Superman or Batman, there are several of other caped/masked heroes that have bit the dust relatively quickly. Besides, in a nation gone crazy over Guido’s from Jershey Shore, Charlie Sheen’s “Goddesses,” MTV’s Skins, and Teen Mom, goody two shoes hero shows don’t generate enough drama. No one cares about the loss of justice, civil order, and morals until it actually happens. Nevertheless, I wanted to see it. I still appreciate old fashioned American values…and a sexy man in tights.  

The first episode, a two hour pilot, was as expected: a city is being overrun by the criminal element; a villain emerges; bad things happen (worse than before), and;a regular man “dies” and a superhero is born. The difference? There’s the carnival of freaks living underneath the city, the private firm that takes over the police department, and the fact that the hero takes on the persona of a comic book hero. The cape is pretty cool, too.

I would tell you to keep an open mind, to watch the pilot (which usually aren’t very good, but this one is) and see how you feel about it, only NBC has already cancelled the show due to poor ratings. As it was a midseason add on, I’m not surprised. I’m sure Netflix will have it available soon. If you are ever bored and want to see an episode, it won’t be the worst way to waste an hour. After all, you could be watching The Jersey Shore or The Bachelor.

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TV on DVD Obsession: Reaper

Reaper (TV series)

Image via Wikipedia

*Since I’m going to do the PostAWeek2011 challenge in this blog, I figured introducing some staples/topical posts was in order. This is one of the first ones, TV on DVD Obession. I will profile any TV shows I have discovered on DVD rather than on television. Suggestions are welcome.

The creation of the CW turned me off. I was a huge fan of both the WB and UPN Networks, the networks they “merged” to make the CW. Instead of turning to the WB for shows like Popular, Roswell, Gilmore Girls, and Dawson’s Creek, instead of turning to UPN for Half & Half, Girlfriends, and In the House, I was stuck with the CW, home to little more than America’s Next Top Model.

Needless to say, any show (aside form ANTM) that came on the CW was persona non grata in my house/dorm/apartment. Add to this the fact that 2007-2009 was one of the hardest periods of my life and I was working almost non-stop, and you can understand why I hadn’t heard or seen too much about Reaper.

What I heard about the premise of the show sounded interesting enough: a boy’s parent’s sell his soul to the devil. Now he works for the devil in some capacity or other, and his lovable friends try to help him. I didn’t know how they planned to sustain a show that narrow, nor how interesting it would be. Besides, I was never home at the time it came on(and didn’t yet know the wonders of DVR firsthand), and it was on the CW.

While trolling Netflix’s new TV shows, I fell in love with Reaper. Reaper is the story of Sam Oliver, the aforementioned young man who’s parents sold his soul to the devil before he was even conceived. On his 21st birthday, he encounters the devil, who tells him what his parent’s did. The devil, however, has a surplus of souls in Hell already. In fact, he’s having trouble keeping them in Hell. They are escaping all the time. Sam will serve as a bounty hunter for the devil, returning lost souls to Hell.

Sam is given a different vessel, an object made in Hell, to capture each escaped soul. He is given clues to the soul’s previous identity and crimes/deals with the devil. It’s his job to capture the soul in the vessel and take it to one of the portals to Hell. The portals of Hell are located, as the devil tells Sam, in places that seem like Hell on Earth. Sam returns his captured souls to the DMV. Sam’s lovable friends do help him, sometimes unwittingly.

Reaper is not only funny and full of one liners, it’s full of new twists and innovations. The devil, as usual, is presented as a very charming fellow who seems debonair and lagely harmless to anything but a tanning bed. It’s an odd thing to say, but you like him. Of course, there’s a catch to everything he says, he hates being outsmarted, he’s a master manipulator, and he tortures and punishes people for a living. Other than that, he’s a really nice guy.

Sam Oliver is a nice guy who was placed in a situation beyond his control. He is trying to make the best of it, trying to keep his friends and loved ones safe. He has a tender heart and noble aims. He was a shiftless, lazy, ne’er do well, but as the season/series unfolds, you see him maturing and evolving.

There are many surprising developments in the show thus far, and from what I read on accident, many more startling developments in the future. If you’re interested in this show, you can watch every episode on Netflix Watch Instantly.  

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The Other Guys Review

The Other Guys

Image by WorthingTheatres via Flickr

I’ve heard nothing but good things about The Other Guys since it first came out. I wasn’t really in the mood to see another crude comedy, which seems to be the direction of comedies these days with men in them. I don’t enjoy crude masturbation humor and such. I like smart humor, especially satire (when done correctly) and romantic comedy (again, when done correctly). I avoided this movie in regular theaters, and missed it in the discount theaters in favor of other movies. In the end, I needed a good laugh and decided to give it a try when it came up on my Netflix queue.

The Other Guys, it turns out, is a satire of the buddy cop movie genre–at least, I think it’s supposed to be a satire of it. Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson are buddy cop movie cliché, down to their car and the action sequences. Everyone aspires to be the next hero cops on the squad, to be like these guys. And then you have the other guys.

Mark Wahlberg plays a detective who had a promising career–until he messed up an assignment, earning himself an embarrassing nickname and a less than glorious partnership with a forensic accountant, played by Will Farrell.

There is a plot, but the plot is largely unimportant. These two dichotomous characters are fun to watch. Between Wahlberg’s anger management problem and Farrell’s cheery yet socially awkward friendship overtures, I was doubled over laughing.

This movie isn’t the funniest movie I’ve ever seen. It’s not the most cohesive movie I’ve ever seen. Mark Wahlberg didn’t take off his shirt and show that fantastic body once. But Will Farrell wasn’t as annoying as I usually find him; he was funny. Mark Wahlberg as a hot head was funny. Michael Keaton and Eva Mendes–funny. There wasn’t one character in this movie who wasn’t funny at least once. They blasted a few cliches (such as movie people walking away as things explode) and played with the line between satire and just another stereotype-fulfilling movie with verve (a word I don’t get to use often enough).

If you want to laugh, watch a movie with a plot you can follow, and actually appreciate a comedy more on the second viewing, then you need to watch The Other Guys asap.

*Shoutout to The Other Guys for having on of the best narrator’s of a cop comedy. No, I’m not going to tell you who, but boy, was it appropriate and random and funny.

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TV on DVD Obsession: The Mentalist

, via Wikimedia Commons”]Simon Baker, aka The Mentalist

*Since I’m going to do the PostAWeek2011 challenge in this blog, I figured introducing some staples/topical posts was in order. This is one of the first ones, TV on DVD Obession. I will profile any TV shows I have discovered on DVD rather than on television. Suggestions are welcome.

In the previous TV on DVD Obsession post, I gave you a profile of the kind of lead male characters in a medical or criminal drama that I love. The character of Patrick Jane (played superbly by Simon Baker) is one of those characters–charismatic, witty, and troubled, with a tragic past and genius intellect.

My mother extolled the virtues of this show every time I called her on a Thursday night. She was so taken by this show, she couldn’t be bothered to talk to me when it was on. My mother is always captivated by some new show or the other, so I didn’t think much of it, but I put it on my list of things to check out on Netflix, should it make it to DVD (as nearly all shows do these days).

I sometimes play Russian Roulette with my Netflix queue. I set it and forget it, then go in a few weeks/months later to change it up if I think it’s necessary. In one of my RR cycles, I opened my red envelope like a kid at Christmas, eager to find out what was inside, and found the first DVD of The Mentalist. From Episode one, I was in love.

Patrick Jane is a mentalist–someone who is supremely observant, can read body language and non-verbal queues, and has a knack for hypnosis and other tricks. He used to be a charlatan, a man who swindled others into believing he had psychic abilities and could communicate with the dead. However, after the tragic murder of his wife and child by the serial killer Red John, he has made his life’s work tracking down this killer. To facilitate this, he helps a team of detectives working with the California Bureau of Investigation (the CBI; as one of the main characters says, “It’s like the FBI but local) to catch other murders and help in the Red John investigation.

One of the most fascinating things about this show is the character of Patrick Jane as played by Simon Baker. On the surface, he appears droll, personable, fun, and a little eccentric, but under the surface, he’s a tortured soul bent on revenge at any cost. When a glimmer of that tortured soul or his singular focus on revenge reaches the surface, it’s horrifying, yet fascinating. You root for Jane, even though you know he’s breaking the rules, but when you see how easy it would be for him to throw in the relationships he’s seemed to have built and endanger their jobs and their safety in his pursuit, it makes you uncomfortable that you like him so much.

This show is much see TV or me. I can’t bear to watch it on regular TV; I have to gobble up two and three episodes at a time, at least. This is one of TV’s smartest, most engaging shows in the last five to ten years. Besides, there are TWO Brits on this show; how could a gal go wrong?

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Outstanding Movies or an Oasis in the Desert?: Good Movie Debate

Heath Ledger as the Joker

Heath Ledger was phenomenal...but was the rest of The Dark Knight really that great? Image via Wikipedia

*I really wanted the title to contain the plural of oasis, but I have no idea what that is. If you know, please tell me. All links in the body of this post are links to reviews and other posts on this blog.

I’ve been to a lot of movies in the past year, and many of them have been disappointing. Many of them were visually stunning but had awful scripts/stories (Alice in Wonderland). Many others were fun while they lasted, but upon further reflection, fell apart (Takers). Some would have been passable if they had just managed to generate more chemistry between the main characters to distract from a subpar script (Knight & Day, The Killers, The Tourist). All of these movies were bad.

But then there were movies that were good–really good. They had great acting, a solid script, used new technology or camera work, and pushed the envelope on what we expect from a movie. Not only did these movies spawn what I like to call “The Matrix Effect” (a concept for another post), they further brought into relief this problem that’s been bugging me for a while.

I finally saw The Social Network last night at the dollar movie theater (review to come). It was a good movie. I suppose I was expecting so much more because of all the hype it has been given. The same thing happened when I went to see Inception. It even happened when I saw For Colored Girls and, in another movie season, The Dark Knight. All of these movies are good, have their merits, and do something different with film, but all of them seem to have been grossly overhyped and not without flaws. I haven’t seen The Black Swan or The King’s Speech yet, but I’m almost certain I will greet this the same way.

What’s causing this? My theory of this is called The Oasis In the Desert Effect. The movie season hasn’t been great. Many highly anticipated movies have fallen flat. We are in the valley of Hollywood sequels and cheap 3D effects. We are thirsty for a really good movie. We want to be challenged to think. We want our perception of reality bent. We want to challenge what we think we know of people. We want to see actors and actresses push their talents to the brink. And when we get even a little bit of that in view, we pounce on it like a thirsty man in the desert pounces on an oasis or a starving man on a feast.

I’m not saying that these movies aren’t good or don’t deserve attention. I’m simply asking, in a better movie season, would they stand out? I think that we have been fed such mediocrity that if a movie is solid, we laud it as if it were a masterpiece (I’m guilty, too. See my review of The Crazies, if you don’t believe me). We won’t allow anyone to point out the flaws of these hallowed movies, and we swear they were robbed if they don’t sweep the entire awards season.

The truth is, many of these movies have flaws that stick out like a sore thumb upon reflection. I think, though, that they are heading us in the right direction. If we vote with our wallets for original content, maybe Hollywood will begin to make more thought provoking, smart, witty movies with heart and substance, and cast people with amazing talent…or maybe not. After all, that’s how I got stuck with Tyler Perry.

Anyway, here are my top picks for this year (and these are just movies that I’ve seen), in no particular order:

  • The Other Guys (comedy)
  • The Crazies (horror)
  • The Social Network (drama)
  • Inception (drama?)
  • Shutter Island (drama)
  • He’s On My Mind (independent film)
  • Devil (horror)

*I saw many other films, but the years may not be 2010. I’ll add to this as I confirm release dates and see other movies as they are released on DVD or in the discount theater.

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New TV Obsession: Fairly Legal

Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the tr...

"I don't believe we're in Kansas anymore." Image via Wikipedia

It took a free pilot episode on iTunes to turn me on to a new show that’s really worth watching. Oftentimes, pilot episodes appear lazy and non-cohesive. The character’s attributes aren’t firmly set, the major tropes of the show are sloppily thrown together, and the episode has no discernible correlation to the rest of the season (or the series, for that matter). For this reason, I try not to judge shows on pilot episodes. But every once in a while, a pilot episode will hook me, make me believe that there is still good (scripted) television out there to be watched. Fairly Legal’s pilot episode is one of those pilots.
 
The USA network has been home to some of my favorite shows, such as Monk. Although I haven’t had the opportunity to get into Psych, Burn Notice, In Plain Sight, or Royal Pains, they are on my list of shows to watch. The thing that sets a USA original apart is the characterization. They have unique characters that can carry the show no matter how screwy the plot gets. If the show also has good plots to plop these characters into, you can’t help but have a hit on your hands (unless you’re Law & Order: Criminal Intent w/ Vincent D’Onfrio–I just don’t understand why it didn’t catch on, or why they split it between the two teams of detectives–not that I dislike Mr. Big and his partner ;-)).
 
Fairly Legal is a legal drama with a twist. Kate Reed used to be a lawyer but now works as a mediator for her family firm Reed & Reed. It’s an interesting dynamic between working with the law, but not being a respected part of the law (there is a judge in the pilot bent on making Kate’s existence miserable). She is surrounded by lawyers, many of whom she has to work around to bring about what she believes is true justice.
 
I thought the way that they introduced the characters was really interesting and set a good tone for the show. We are introduced to them as images and sound bites from the Wizard of Oz emanating from Kate’s cell phone. There’s her brother, the Scarecrow, a lovable lawyer who quit the firm to be able to spend more time with his adorable daughter; her ex-husband, the Tin Man, who is also a lawyer (and who she uses alternately as a bed partner and inside connection to the DA’s office), someone she bumps heads with because he’s interested in the law and she’s interested in justice; Leo, the cowardly lion, her assistant who keeps her on track and out of trouble (whenever at all possible); her stepmother, the Wicked Witch of the West, who now runs Reed & Reed, and; the presence (in an urn) of her dearly departed father, the Wizard, who she loved dearly and seemed to want to impress or win over.
 
If the first episode is indicative of the rest of the season, the firm tends to use Kate to help them close deals when there are disagreements between the parties. Kate is also summoned by the courts to mediate cases that the court either doesn’t want to try or they feel as if can be resolved through mediation. Kate is a great mediator, but is always late, has an awkward sense of humor, and rushes in feelings first.
 
In this first episode, Kate is called upon to “get everyone back on the same page” when a deal for the firm is threatening to fall apart because of a disagreement between the father and son who run the company they are working with. The father believes the son doesn’t have good instincts about the business, and cites an incident from the night before in which his son is involved in a car accident and swerves off the road when the passenger of the other car points a gun in his face. He was drunk at the time. Kate agrees to help them make the DUI disappear so the deal can go forward. Both the driver and the gun toting passenger will be charged. Easy peasy (ironically, the name of the individuals involved is Peasy).
 
Of course, there’s a complication. The driver has no priors and has, in fact, been accepted to Yale University. He’s a good kid, and going to jail for five years will ruin his entire life. Kate knows this isn’t fair, but the law is clear: the driver is just as culpable as his passenger. But the law isn’t just in this case. It’s up to Kate to figure out how to save the young man’s future AND the clients her firm desperately needs to hold onto.
 
This show was fun, smart, and had heart. I loved Kate from her first few lines of dialogue, and everyone else in the cast did a phenomenal job of filling in the world she inhabits. I hope they use the judge again, and that none of the actors have been replaced by the time the show really gets underway. This is one show I’m really looking forward to getting into. Feel free to watch with me each week and tell me what you think!
 
Oh, bonus points if you can tell me the name of the boat; I missed it 😦
Up next on my DVR (waiting for weeks): The Cape
 
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For Colored Girls Review

Felt

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This post has been a long time coming, partly because it took me a while to sort my feelings of the subject matter from my feelings about the actual movie. I posted in my other blog about how I felt about the issues addressed, ( you can read that here), but I never got around to reviewing the actual movie, so here we are.

First of all, I must admit I’ve never read the play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf (at least, I think that’s the whole title) in its entirety, nor have I seen it performed. I think this was good, in a way, because had I known what I would see in some instances, I would have been even more opposed to seeing it, and whatever else I say, I am glad I saw it.

A word about the soliloquies. I heard murmurs of people not liking the way he used them in the movie and saying they were awkward (I banned myself from actually reading reviews before or since I saw the movie until this was done). Most of the soliloquies worked fine. There were a few that I feel would have been better served by being broken up. Some of them were awkward because, where in a normal movie/conversation, someone would react, interrupt, or at least put out a comforting hand, people just sat looking shocked. Those were unbelievable, but most of them were moments when I felt “What could anyone really say?” It was good Perry didn’t try to invent any responses in this moment, and the original material seemed to convey the feeling better than the couching material Perry came up with.

In order for me to do this review, I’ve broken the review down by women, identified by the colors they wore (I’m glad Mr. Perry subtly kept the color identification and rarely named the women; it lent the story a feeling of universality it wouldn’t have had otherwise). I felt that, despite how long the movie was (and it WAS long), it wasn’t long enough to satisfactorily resolve some of the story lines with some of the women. I will indicate those as I go along.

Woman in Blue: There didn’t seem to be a crisis point or resolution to this storyline. I felt how conflicted she was when dealing with the woman in purple, given her situation, but what was the resolution? What did she and her husband decide to do? Where did we leave her?

Woman in Purple: Where were the consequence, the falling action? It seemed she had her crisis and had to own up to what happened, but there didn’t seem to be any residual effects. She was at a party by the end as if nothing had happened!

Woman in Red-I was conflicted about Janet Jackson’s performance. On the one hand, she was wonderful at being the uncaring diva, but the emotional parts fell flat. I felt like she could have done so much more with a woman used to being in control actually showing some emotion while still trying to be in control. That sorry soliloquy was one of the most hard hitting, emotional soliloquies in the movie, and she didn’t bring it on that soliloquy (although the content still made it one of my favorite parts of the movie).

Tangi: Her resolution fell flat to me, as well. This was doubly disappointing because Thandie Newton played this part so well. I kept thinking, Mariah Carey was supposed to play this character? No, honey; Thandie IS Tangi! She was born to do this. A fortuitous happening for all involved, that pregnancy.

Woman in Yellow: I feel like Anika Noni Rose did a great job with the material she was given, but I feel like they rushed her story after her traumatic event. Still, one of the most touching scenes was her watching that clock…I felt that scene stire something in me (cynical though I am).

Woman in Green: Loretta Divine was divine–again. Her soliloquy to Frank in the mirror, in which she utter my favorite line “I didn’t want to be sorry and colored too; that’s redundant”–was epic. However, I don’t see how her story line concluded. I didn’t see the point in which she decided to do things differently this time. I didn’t see why it stuck that time. And I wanted to, because she had played the character so well up to that point.

I don’t know what color she was, but Kimberly Elise was amazing. Even though I’m tired of seeing Kimberly said and broken (Woman, Thou Art Loosed, Diary of a Mad Black Woman), she plays that part so well, and this movie is no different. I felt the tension in her scenes. She had a really good chemistry with Michael Ealy (a strange thing to say in the circumstances, but I can’t think of a better word to describe it).

Macy Gray, Phylicia Rashad, and Whoopi Goldberg shined in their supporting roles, as well as the aforementioned Michael Ealy and Khalil Kain (whom I adore–just not his character in this movie). Overall, the acting was pitch perfect and spot on, except for a few places. Everyone came to this piece with great respect for the subject matters and prepared to really bring it.

The frame work of the movie felt contrived and a bit claustrophobic–all of this suffering and tragedy being lived out in tandem literally on top of each other was a bit exhausting. I liked how some of the stories were weaved together through occupations and such, but the ones who lived in the same building were a little to close and it was unimaginative to put them together that way. The ending was, as is usual with Perry, contrived and heavy handed.

It felt a bit dated in parts (the use of the word colored, and some of the subject matter has faded from popular view). I kept thinking that in 2010 we should know better than to do a lot of the things these women did, but do we?

I’m not sure if it was the beauty of the source material used, the awe-inspiring performances of the cast, or the reality of seeing so much Black talent being put on display, but I liked this movie. While it only showed a limited view of a type of Black Woman’s experience, it did so well overall. There were parts that didn’t gel, but overall, I wanted more of the movie rather than less.

I still want to get my hands on the original source material and see what makes the difference, but I was happy with Perry’s efforts, happier than with any of his other offerings. I think this is worth a DVD rental with your friends.

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