The best thing about Supergirl is likely Supergirl herself. Benoist is on point in a star-making role. She makes Kara likeable, believable and worthy of rooting for. She is a breath of fresh air in a superhero universe dominated by men… not to mention the vanguard of a number of series/movies with women in prominent roles (Jessica Jones on Netflix, the Wasp in the upcoming Ant-Man sequel, and Wonder Woman in Batman vs Superman). Supergirl is a great and long overdue start to the Superhero Ladies Revolution, and she should soar for years to come.
All grown up now, Murdock makes his living by day as a lawyer in a fledgling practice with best friend Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and murder-suspect-turned-indespensibe-right-hand Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll). At night, he gears up and hits the streets as DareDevil, to clean up the mess in constant creation by Russian, Chinese and Japanese criminals. They all flock to one man (he who shall not be named) who claims it’s his desire to clean up the streets… even as he leaves a bloody trail of death and destruction in his wake. As DareDevil is but a mortal man, he cannot survive without the help of Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), who faithfully patches him up as he expertly survives one epic beating after another.
Marvel’s Daredevil is more grounded and realistic than anything we’ve seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to this point. It’s not an extension of the big screen action (like ABC’s Agents Of SHIELD), but still a part of that world through mention of events that occur on both the big and small screen in real time.
Daredevil fully embraces the Netflix binge mentality, with the release Season One in its entirety. Season Two has already been greenlit, so there’s bound to be a lot more Marvel goodness coming down the pipeline. Comic book fan or not, this series is a must see. Do yourself a favor and block out a day (or two), shut off the phone, order in, and enjoy.
Scott F. Evans
The newest addition to the Starz series lineup is a refreshing lesson on the mistake of judging a book (show) by its cover (premise). The synopsis, casting, marketing and shooting location for Survivor’s Remorse all scream ‘Generic Black Sitcom.’ It could have been played broadly, gone for the obvious big laughs, cheap emotional beats, and neat wrap ups to every episode. But it doesn’t. It discards nearly every element that has plagued too many comedic attempts since the 1980’s.
Topping the list of things done right, is the show’s writing and directing. Be warned: the dialogue can be profane, almost to the point of excess. But the wordplay is so refreshingly sharp that you forgive it. Instead of the typical ‘setup and punchline’ formula, the writers focus on snappy banter. You actually have to pay attention to catch all of it.
The direction of the show is also exemplary. This is no quickie, haphazardly shot TV show. The care taken with lighting and composition is evident. The main characters live in a high end penthouse with a gorgeous view of Atlanta, and the filmmakers make excellent use of it. The cinematography alone on this show effectively camouflages its modest budget.
Early marketing was also inaccurate. Survivor’s Remorse was sold as the Black, basketball playing companion to HBO’s Entourage. Given that, one would expect the show to be episode after episode detailing the hedonistic lifestyle of a rich pro ball player. Instead, the show has much more to say about the lives of the newly moneyed than Entourage ever did. Where Entourage was arguably a show about white male privilege where the protagonists never, ever lose… Survivor’s Remorse is almost a cautionary tale. Lifestyles of the young and rich aside, the show really wants to teach us about how to keep that wealth. With story after story of pro athletes going broke long before they qualify for Social Security, the lesson is long overdue.
Jessie Usher is solid as our ostensible lead, newly signed Atlanta Hawk Cam Calloway. He plays the young baller straight down the middle with just enough youthful arrogance to be realistic, but not enough to put viewers off. He offsets the cockiness with an easy charisma that forces you to root for him. Tichina Arnold and Mike Epps play his mother and uncle. They’re both good, dialing back their broad shtick for the roles. But sometimes they both feel a little too young for the parts, especially the way they talk to the younger members of their family. Teyonah Pariss, as bourgeois cousin-in-law Missy Vaughn steals nearly every scene she’s in. Her character is the outsider and Pariss plays it slightly ‘above it all,’ but never haughty. Erica Ash is decent (if not a little inconsistent) as M-Chuck, Jesse’s lesbian sister. Between this character’s gender-specific antics and Arnold’s and Epps’ crudity, the show often teeters right on the edge of comic boorishness. Thankfully, the writers show restraint.
Survivor’s Remorse completely flips the script on viewers. Typically a show like this would be about the young, arrogant player and his zany family. Instead of crafting the show along those clichéd lines, Remorse is built around the one character who would normally be the ‘straight man’ and butt of most of the jokes. RonReaco Lee expertly guides this nouveau-riche experience as cousin and manager Reggie Vaughn. Reggie is exquisitely balanced with just the right amount of savvy to be an effective manager, but enough uncertainty to give the show a tangible level of suspense. In many ways, Survivor’s Remorse is actually Reggie’s story. He is the one that holds the ship together, fighting week after week to ensure that Cam and the family never have to go back to the hard scrabble poverty they once lived in. Reggie is the character you wish more young athletes and musicians had in their corner, guiding them through the treacherous waters of the sports and entertainment industry.
RATING: Must See TV
Christopher M. Enis
Last week began the second season of what I like to call Friday Night Frights on NBC. It began last year with the veteran series Grimm, a half-season of Dracula, and the stylish gore fest Hannibal. This season, Grimm and Hannibal return (Dracula does not), and are joined by the new series Constantine.
Grimm enters its fourth season with the story of Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli): a homicide detective who discovers that he is descended from a supernatural “guardians” known as Grimms. They act as defenders against the Wesen (pronounced “vessin”: the German word for “creature”). The Wesen might be the modern day Boogeyman: they look human, and can only be seen in their true forms without their consent by Grimms.
Grimm comes from the minds of co-creators David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf (of Buffy and Angel fame). It’s a supernatural police procedural that has found a nice balance between both worlds, without being insulting to either.
Constantine is based on the DC Comics/Vertigo series Hellblazer.
John Constantine (Matt Ryan) is a con artist turned reluctant detective of the Occult. He’s also got some major personal issues (tortured by his sins and such). Constantine is tasked with defending humanity against the ever growing forces of darkness. His Crusade companions include his oldest friend Chas Chandler (Charles Halford) and Manny (Harold Perrineau) an angel with a chip on his…wing… who’s been assigned to watch over Constantine. Other main characters (also from the comic series) are the voodoo king, Papa Midnight (Michael James Shaw), Mary ‘Zed’ Martin (Angélica Celaya) and The Spectre (Emmett Scanlan).
Daniel Cerone and David Goyer developed the show for television, and Neil Marshall directed the pilot. The good news is, the series is closer to the source material than the 2005 movie (starring Keanu Reeves). But due to the mostly R-rated nature of the source, we won’t get a full translation on network television.
Overall, Constantine is a nice addition to the live action DC Comics TV Universe (CW’s Arrow, The Flash and Fox’s Gotham). With time, there’s a good chance that it’ll become a permanent part of the Friday Night Frights on NBC.
Christopher M. Enis
My Fall TV preview featured the latest installment from Shonda Rhimes: How to get Away with Murder. The series, which stars the incomparable Viola Davis, was one of my top picks for must see tv. So when the pilot episode debuted… I settled in for the lesson. Teach me Viola… I’m here for you!
In the pilot episode, there is A LOT going on. The story jumps from present day to 3 months prior… and back again. There’s little to no warning for these time jumps, except for a series of images that play back like someone got their finger stuck on the rewind or fast forward buttons. Add to that new character introductions, classrooms, court rooms, competitions, bonfires, trysts, and shady next door neighbors…
And that’s just the first 15 minutes.
If your head is spinning from everything that you just read, imagine how I felt watching it.
This epileptic brew is nothing new if you’re a regular Scandal viewer. But if this is your first trip to Shondaland, your rewind button is in for a workout as you navigate what I like to call ‘The Rhimes Style.’ It goes a little something like this: Strong female lead and diverse cast of characters that transcend traditional stereotypes. There’s talking… lots and lots and LOTS of fast talking. There are one liners, zingers, plot twists, and all manner of madness designed to keep you engaged (and struggling to keep up). Rhimes continues to prove that she’s not content with the status quo, and so far it’s working out very well for her. Now, she’s wrapping that style snugly around her biggest talent yet… 2-time Tony Award winning (and Oscar nominated) actress Viola Davis.
With all of that going for it, is ‘How to get Away with Murder’ worth watching?
That… my friends… is the question.
Davis plays Philadelphia Law Professor/Criminal Lawyer Annalise Keating. She’s the final word in everything… and everyone around her has no problem taking orders. What makes Annalise complex is that she often combines her dual positions as professor and lawyer. It’s an ethically ambiguous pattern with potentially explosive consequences, but Keating seems to have no issue shaking up the volatile mix.
Keating has a husband who adores her, a boyfriend who will do anything for her, and assistants who are at her beck and call. She’s not interested in explanations or excuses in the courtroom, the classroom, or the bedroom. That attitude inspires an interesting mix of fear, loathing and admiration from everyone around her, and Keating uses it to her advantage. After watching Annalise win a case, one of her student interns says “I want to be her.” But not because Keating is a role model or mother figure. Quite the contrary. Instead of Prada, the Devil wears Oxblood leather, and she’s not up for any of your bullshit. And despite your best efforts, you’re here for it.
My primary complaint about the show is that we didn’t get ‘enough’ Keating. The story is mainly built around the effect that she has on her interns and her employees. This may change (it needs to), as news of Davis’ incredible performance grows. Hell, maybe one day… Professor Annalise Keating will be on the list of the top television anti-heroes. I can dream.