Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Suspense & Stilettos

This week, Amber West and I review two female-driven dramas on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday—the short-lived Whedon series, Dollhouse, and TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles

What do we get when a Boston detective and her best friend/medical examiner solve crime together?  Two strong, female characters and plenty of laughs.  To be clear, these women aren’t perfect—they both have issues and insecurities—plus they are nothing alike.  But regardless, they make for one fun hour of television viewing.

First we have Detective Jane Rizzoli, played by Angie Harmon.

Detective Jane Rizzoli

Rizzoli hails from a working class family: her dad’s a plumber; her younger brother (Colin Egglesfield) has just been released from prison; and her other little brother (Jordan Bridges), who idolizes Rizzoli, is following in his sister’s footsteps, much to the dismay of their overbearing mom (the fabulous Lorraine Bracco).  She has been stalked, tortured, and scarred by serial killers; she doesn’t have much luck in the love department; and she’s trying to fit into a man’s world.  I know, I know; it’s 2012 and there are plenty of female officers on police forces across the country; but in Rizzoli’s case, her squadron is full of men.

Rizzoli & Isles – Jane and lil’ bro’ Frankie

Then we have Medical Examiner Maura Isles, played by Sasha Alexander.

Dr. Maura Isles

Isles was raised by her adopted parents (her mother is played by Jacqueline Bissett), where she learned to focus on her studies and adapted a fabulous sense of style.   How many medical examiners do you know who examine dead bodies and perform autopsies in stilettos?  Her biological father (John Doman) is a Boston mafia boss, a fact she learns after discovering that a corpse on her morgue table shares her DNA and was later identified as her brother.  Her biological mother (Sharon Lawrence) is a world-renowned doctor, who has invented scientific techniques to help identify victims.  But here’s the kicker—Isles’ biological father told her biological mother that baby Maura died at birth.  Of course, he did it for their protection, but still…

Friends Forever…

Regardless of their differences, the girls have each other.  Or at least they did—season two ended with Rizzoli shooting Isles’ dad.  Even though Isles has a difficult time admitting her true feelings for her biological father, he’s still her father.  Will their friendship survive?  Of course it will… it already has.  Sorry for the spoiler…

Frost & Korsak in pursuit…

The series, based on the novels by Tess Gerritsen, also stars Lee Thompson Young as Rizzoli’s new partner, Detective Frost, and Bruce McGill as Rizzoli’s former partner/senior detective, Vince Korsak.  Frost and Korsak are like salt and pepper—they complement each other beautifully,  but like Rizzoli and Isles, they are nothing alike.  Here lately, Frost spends most of his time in front of the computer and leads Rizzoli’s little brother, Frankie, around (he’s dying to get out of the uniform and become a detective), while Korsak works most of the cases by Rizzoli’s side.  Throw in Dr. Isles and Rizzoli’s mom, Angela, and this group really meshes together well.

Mamma Rizzoli…

If you liked Crossing Jordan, you’ll also like Rizzoli & IslesIf you liked Angie Harmon on Baywatch Nights, Law & Order, and/or the short-lived Women’s Mystery Club, you will love her as Jane Rizzoli.  If she wasn’t an actress, I might actually think Angie was in law enforcement.

The episodes are particularly fun when Rizzoli & Isles go undercover together…

So how does Rizzoli & Isles officially rank?  If I were rating the show in comparison to Dr. Maura Isles’ lifestyle, I’d say GTV.   But Rizzoli isn’t fine wine and gourmet meals… she’s more of a beer and sandwich kinda girl.  So, I’m going with the MacTV rating—pop open a beer, make a pastrami sandwich with au jus on the side, and boil some Shells-N-Cheese.  It’s probably not great for our cholesterol, but it sure tastes good goin’ down.. am I right?

The girls like their rating…

What do you think? Do you watch Rizzoli & Isles?  How would you rate it?  Who’s your favorite character?  Have you read any of Tess Gerritsen’s books?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she thinks about Joss Whedon’s short-lived series, Dollhouse.

Come back next week when Amber and I review something..it’s summer time and the heat is taking a toll on our planning ahead.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

And, remember to check out my YA Mystery novel, Football Sweetheart… now available on Kindle!

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Friday FabOoolousness – Friday Night Flicks for Fall: Friday Night Lights

By now, everyone has heard of Friday Night Lights – whether it be the book by H.G. Bissinger published in 1990, the motion picture produced by Brian Grazer in 2004, or the television series starring Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton that aired from 2006 until 2011.  Some even know the “real” Friday night lights – high school football in West Texas

For the purpose of this post, we’re going to focus on the film.  Friday Night Lights is a perfect Friday night flick for fall. 

The time – 1988

 The place – Odessa, Texas

 The who – the Permian High School football players

The dream – to win the state championship

The obstacles – a coach that pushes his players too far, parents living vicariously through their teens’ lives, and societal pressure 

Two things come to mind when people outside the state of Texas think about West Texas – high school football and oil.  So, if everyone outside the state knows about the teenage pig-skin programs, what do the people inside the state think?  Football is life.  Win at all costs. 

Friday Night Lights follows Coach Gary Gaines (Hollywood great, Billy Bob Thornton), star Permian running back James “Boobie” Miles (Derek Luke), back-up running back Chris Comer (Lee Thompson Young) quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black), fullback Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund), and safety Brian Chavez (Jay Hernandez) on their quest for a Mojo football championship.  The season seems to be right on schedule, but things erupt when Boobie tears his ACL. 

Coach Gaines is immediately under fire in the media and around town; a head football coach’s job is never safe in West Texas without wins and when a star player goes down, people panic.   

As if the pressure isn’t already mounting for the kids, Billingsley is also faced with managing his father’s (country music star, Tim McGraw) drinking and humiliating outbursts.  Like many other former football stars, Billingsley’s father continues to live in the past and is humiliated that his son is not performing up to his standards.

The season ends with a three-way tie in the district between Permian, their arch-rival Midland Lee Rebels, and Abilene Cooper.  With a flip of a coin, Permian and Lee move on (yes, they really flipped coins to break a three-way tie in conference when determining playoff spots).   Permian rolls through the playoffs and meets Dallas Carter in the state championship. 

Watch the movie to find out what happens next…. 

Have you seen Friday Night Lights?  Have you read the book?  Did you enjoy the television series?  I’d love to hear from you!

Rumor has it that another Friday Night Lights movie is in the works….

On a personal note, I was born and raised in Midland, Texas and I’m a proud Midland Lee Rebel.  My father graduated from the first ever senior class at Midland Lee, as did my brother before me, and now my oldest nephew is a freshman.  My mother has taught at Midland Lee for a long time (no years, I promise…you wouldn’t believe me if I told you), but not before graduating from Odessa Permian and participating on the Mojo Pep Squad.  

Friday Night Lights, while fictional, does not stray far from the truth, and I highly recommend it to anyone attempting to understand the severity of high school football in West Texas.  I was a student trainer in high school, and I remember a man who traveled in his trailer to watch the Midland Lee versus the Odessa Permian football game because he read Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream.  I grew up watching Lee play, lived the annual showdown with Permian, and was shocked that someone from thousands of miles away would drive just to watch high school kids play football. 

West Texas football is a big deal.  Maybe we’re crazy?  But, we’re proud.

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