Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Is “Golden Boy” Golden?

Television’s winter premiere season is officially here!  We’re currently down to the very last of the new shows premiering this TV season, but Amber West and I still have our work cut out for us—especially since she doesn’t have cable and my DVR crashed a few weeks ago, losing over 120 recordings.  Regardless, we’ll make it work.

And speaking of making it work… we have had so much fun posting dual reviews this season, we’ve decided to keep going.  Will Amber and I agree or disagree after watching the new CBS police procedural, Golden Boy?

Golden Boy follows Walter William Clark, Jr. (Theo James from the British series Bedlam and Downton Abbey) on his unprecedented rise through the New York City Police force from a beat cop, to detective, to police commissioner.  This rise to the top took Clark only seven years, making him the youngest police commissioner in the history of NYC.

The role of Clark supposedly belonged to Ryan Phillippe in the early stages of the series’ development.  I don’t know why Mr. Phillippe backed out, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit disappointed by this… at first.  But after watching the first four episodes, I have decided Mr. James will do just fine—he’s quite cute, especially when he smiles.

But let’s get back to the show…

Each episode begins in the future, or the present, depending on which way we want to look at it.  Either way, we know that Clark is now police commissioner.  After the opening scenes, the series rewinds back in time to Clark’s days as a homicide detective.

Clark’s heroism helped him advance to detective after only four years on the job as a beat cop.  This heroism comes as a sort of double-edged sword.  On one hand, the women find him irresistible.  But on the other, not all of the detectives in his squadron agree that he’s so golden—particularly Christian Arroyo (Kevin Alejandro from Southland and True Blood).

Bottom line: Clark has great instincts… he just needs a little mentoring.

It was reported that this crime drama is more character driven than most.  Instead of focusing on the cases the police solve, Golden Boy focuses on the Clark character and the relationships he forms with his partners and mentors, specifically Detective Don Owen (Chi McBride from Boston Public and Human Target).

Now, I’m not going to argue that the show hasn’t given the audience glimpses into Clark’s character because it has:  he’s a good guy, evidenced by the fact he lives with and supports his younger sister; he’s humble, possessing the tendency to give credit to others for his accomplishments, especially to his partner who has been in homicide for eleven years and is looking for a promotion; and he’s generous, giving money to patrol officers to buy coffee and donuts.

I also won’t argue with the fact that the series has shown the relationships forming between Clark and a few of the other characters… First, there’s his partner; Clark truly seems to value what Owen has to say, and he genuinely wants to see good things in Owen’s future.  There’s also his budding relationship, good and bad, with Deb McKenzie (Bonnie Somerville from NYPD Blue and Cashmere Mafia) and Arroyo, the other partnership in the department.

However, all these developing relationships aside, the series still reminds me of all the other police procedurals already on the air today…

And even though the show follows Clark as the main character, let’s talk about Arroyo for a minute.  This guy can’t stand Clark.  Generally speaking, Arroyo has a horrible attitude… he even slaps a female suspect in interrogation.  He is so determined to be top dog, that he’ll do anything to stand out to the higher-ups, including framing and threatening other detectives, as well as rushing into crimes-in-progress without the proper warrants AND at the risk of his partner’s life, a partner he is currently having an extramarital affair with.  And Clark’s not the only one on Arroyo’s hit list—he can’t stand Owen either.  This guy is a real tool and not at all deserving of his level-headed and beautiful partner.

And while we’re on the subject of the supporting cast, the new series also stars a few other familiar faces: Holt McCallany (CSI: Miami and Lights Out) as Joe Diaco, the detective with all of the connections; Stella Maeve (My Super Psycho Sweet 16-Part 2) as Agnes, Clark’s sister; and Odette Annable (House) in a recurring role as ADA Kat O’Connor (and perhaps a potential love interest for Clark).

So, how does Golden Boy rank?  It is just another police procedural, like all the others, but I have enjoyed it so far.  Do I prefer it over the other CBS police procedurals, like CSICSI: NYBlue BloodsHawaii Five-0?  NCIS: LA?  Maybe… but probably not.  It’s too early to decide; but I’m definitely not deleting it from the DVR queue anytime soon.  What can I say? I’m a sucker for these shows and I want to know what happens to Clark.  Heck, I even want to know what happens with Arroyo.

For that, I’m awarding Golden Boy with the JFTV rating… it’s like a bag of potato chips; there are all those different flavors out there, and regardless of the fact that we prefer one particular flavor, we can’t keep ourselves from trying all the others.  And just like the potato chip companies, television networks can’t keep themselves from putting out new flavors, I mean police procedurals left and right.  One never knows when they might strike gold.

Oh, and before we go…

As commissioner, we notice Clark walks with a limp; as a homicide detective, he does not.  It will be interesting to see if the show lasts long enough for viewers to learn the reason why…

After premiering on a Tuesday night, CBS indicated it was going to move Golden Boy to Friday nights in CSI: NY’s timeslot.  And depending on which show scored higher rankings on that particular night and time would determine which one would be back in the 2013-2014 season.  But after only one week partnered with Blue Bloods, Golden Boy is now back on Tuesday nights in Vegas’ slot.

What does that mean?  Is CSI: NY safe and Vegas not?  Who knows…  Honestly, I hate all the back and forth the networks do with TV series.  Just pick a night and time and leave it alone!!

What do you think?  Have you watched Golden Boy?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she thinks about the new CBS series.  Did we agree or disagree?  Trust me; we usually have very different tastes in our television viewing pleasure….

Come back next week when Amber and I review something…

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.

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
Inedible TV: Exactly how it sounds…

Friday FabOoolousness – All Good Things Must Come to an End

Over the holidays, we watched a movie that I remember had grabbed my attention when the actors were moving through the daytime and nighttime talk shows doing press – All Good Things.

The story is based on, or inspired by, alleged events surrounding the life of Robert Durst.  My family, who has lived in both New York City and the great state of Texas, remembers hearing about these stories and the people involved.  Loving true crime the way that I do, I was shocked to realize I wasn’t familiar with this case and immediately logged onto the Internet to read about it.

The real-life story, and the movie, is right up my alley.

***** WARNING – SPOILERS *****

The movie stars Ryan Gosling as David Marks, the eldest son and heir apparent to his father’s New York City real estate conglomerate.  As a young boy, David’s mother commits suicide right in front of him and his life changes forever.  His father (Frank Langella) never gives up hope, and continues to push David to be at his beck and call, including having him dressing down to fix tenant’s maintenance issues at the drop of a hat and dressing up to showcase at political events and high society dinners.

Early in the 1970s, David meets Katherine “Katie” McCarthy (Kirsten Dunst).  They fall in love and marry, despite his father’s disapproval.  David and Katie move to Vermont and open an organic food store, fittingly named All Good Things.  After a short while, David’s father plants a seed of doubt in David’s mind that Katie deserves AND wants more than the measly shop out in the middle of nowhere.  They sell the store and move back to the city where David goes to work for his father.

Of course, working for the Marks family has its privileges – the money rolls in, the young couple buys a penthouse and a second home out on a nearby lake, and everything seems to be going according to the grand master plan that all married couples hope for when they start their new life together.  David and Katie associate and party with other successful couples, including David’s long-time best friend and bestselling author, Deborah Lehrman (Lily Rabe).

But everything is seldom as it appears….

The Marks’ family business isn’t as clean as a legitimate real estate company should be, and certain law enforcement officers are searching for a way to take them down.  David is tasked with collecting the rent, or books, of a few extremely shady properties for his father (one was clearly a porn house), and his buildings are the first hit by the police.

Katie wants to start a family, but David refuses without giving any explanation.   Of course, as luck would have it, Katie soon discovers that she is pregnant and David forces her to have an abortion.  Distraught, Katie focuses more on her education, and less on her marriage.  She slowly pushes away from her husband and at one point even attempts to file for a legal separation.  Unfortunately, for Katie to continue her dreams of attending medical school, she needs the Marks’ money and decides to stay with David.

Their lives were never the same; David spends his time in the city, and Katie spends her time at school.  They see each other on the weekends at the lake house, but the two fight to the point that their relationship turns abusive.  Late one night in 1982 while taking out the trash, Katie discovers that David has killed their family dog and she grabs the shovel to go inside and confront him.

Katie is never seen again.

Or is she?

The doorman at the NYC penthouse claims to have seen Katie arrive at the property early the next morning wearing oversized sunglasses and her hair down covering her face.  She was also reported making a phone call at the phone booth just outside the building that same day.

But back to the night of Katie’s disappearance, a very telling portion of the movie (in my opinion)…

David drives over to his father’s mansion for a quick late night visit.  Rambling and clearly disturbed, David ends the conversation by telling his father that they’re the same now – alone.  David leaves, on foot, and his father notices that he has left Katie’s Mercedes behind, parked directly in front of the house.  His father walks over to the trunk of the car, opens it, and the camera focuses on his face.

After an exhausting search by the McCarthy family, and publically supported by the Marks family, David leaves the city and moves to Galveston, Texas where he rents a small apartment.  He begins cross-dressing and pretends to be mute so that no one will bother him or discover who he actually is.  He repeatedly dodges phone calls from Deborah, who desperately needs help (money) and who begins to threaten him if he doesn’t call her back.

It is at this point that David decides to befriend his aging neighbor, Malvern Bump (Philip Baker Hall).   The two men bond by shooting guns together, and David later convinces Malvern to help him out with his situation in exchange for a place to live, considering he is facing eviction at his apartment complex.  With nowhere else to turn, and trusting David, Malvern travels to California and shoots Deborah dead inside her own home, execution style.

When Malvern returns to Texas to discover David never paid the escrow on the house, the two scuffle and David kills him.  He doesn’t stop there – he dismembers Malvern’s body, dresses in drag, and disposes of Malvern’s body parts in a body of water.

The movie ends with David on trial for Malvern’s death.  He is found not-guilty by way of self-defense, however did face a short stint in prison for the wrongful disposal of the body.  While Deborah’s murder in California prompts the NYC District Attorney to reopen Katie’s disappearance with David as the primary suspect, no charges were ever filed and he retires in Florida…selling real estate.

An aged Gosling playing David Marks

*****

This is not in any way a feel good movie.  A few one-liners by Kristen Wiig’s character might have been the only time I laughed out loud (the scenes with Katie’s attorney).  However, the performances by Gosling and Dunst deserve some sort of acclaim, any sort of acknowledgement.  The two young actors are absolutely brilliant with their portrayal of such haunted characters.

Obviously, the character’s names in the movie have been changed to protect the innocent and any surviving family members (Robert Durst = David Marks; Kathleen McCormack = Katie McCarthy; Susan Berman = Deborah Lehrman; Morris Black = Malvern Bump).

A story by the New York Times reported that Durst viewed All Good Things and basically had no major objections to the story, other than he wasn’t involved in the three murders.  For more from the Times’ Article on the Durst family’s thoughts regarding the movie, click here.

Are you familiar with the Robert Durst story?  Have you seen All Good Things?  What do you think?  Will his wife’s body ever be discovered?  Has he gotten away with two (alleged) perfect murders?  I’d love to hear your take! 

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Last Law & Order Standing

This week, Amber West and I are flipping channels over to NBC and sharing our Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday reviews of Harry’s Law and Law & Order: SVU.

For the past twenty plus years, Dick Wolf’s productions have dominated the NBC primetime slots.  He first created the original Law & Order, and then added spinoffs SVU and Criminal Intent, as well as the short-lived Trial by Jury and LA.    

The last of the franchise still standing today is Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, currently in its thirteenth season.  Like the original, SVU has a great ensemble cast, and it showcases gut-wrenching storylines. 

The Special Victims Unit is a specialized department that focuses on assault and rape cases in New York City, often times inspired by today’s headlines.   

For the first twelve seasons, the SVU team depends on lead detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni).  Benson, the product of her mother’s rape, and Stabler, the father of five children, take the cases personally and sometimes take actions we as viewers wish we could see more of on television – in other words, they’re not always by the book, and therefore one of the partners is always in trouble. 

SVU’s cast, for the most part, has remained the same for all thirteen seasons, including: Captain Cragen (Dan Florek), and also detectives Tutuola (Ice-T) and Munch (Richard Belzer). 

The original Law & Order split the hour-long program into two parts – “the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders.” [t1]  SVU doesn’t follow the exact same formula, but does of course involve the district attorney’s office in each episode (returning favorites in season 13 – Casey Novak played by Diane Neal, Alexandra Cabot played by Stephanie March, and Michael Cutter played by Linus Roache from L&O).   

This season, viewers will see a new cast of characters following Meloni’s departure from the show and Hargitay’s rumored request for a lighter workload.  Danny Pino (Cold Case) joins as Det. Nick Amaro from warrants and narcotics, and Kellie Giddish (Chase) transfers to NYC from Atlanta as Det. Amanda Rollins

In addition to SVU’s fictionalized accounts of current events, viewers can count on a large revolving door of guest stars.  So far in season thirteen, we’ve seen a familiar story line where a hotel maid accuses a foreign diplomat of rape.  In episode two, SVU landed guest stars Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years), Mehcad Brooks (Necessary Roughness), and real-life basketball greats Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony.    

This week (tonight actually), Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks, Sex and the City) and Paige Turco (Damages) guest star as husband and wife in a fictionalized account of a particular politician’s scandal. 

Before rating, I must issue this warning – the writers don’t sugar-coat things.  If you don’t like watching bad things happen to children, don’t watch! 

The past few weeks, the GTV rating has been awarded left and right; but, not today.  While I do watch Law & Order: SVU religiously, I can only award the JFTV ratingSVU is like junk food, particularly like that bag of greasy potato chips – it’s not great for us, but we keep coming back for more. 

SVU is the last of the franchise airing new episodes.  I simply can’t imagine television today without hearing this:

Of course, I am worried that I will soon have to get my Law & Order fix watching reruns only (thank you, TNT!). 

What do you think? Do you prefer the original Law & Order, SVU, or Criminal Intent? Will SVU survive Meloni’s departure, or will this be the last of the L&O franchise?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and check out her review of Harry’s Law.  The GTV ratings came to an end over here; will Amber award another top review over on her site?   

Come back next week when Amber and I switch over to FOX and review two supernatural programs – the new hit, Terra Nova, and the returning favorite, Fringe.

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 future Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday posts. 

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
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
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
 


 [t1]Opening narration spoken by Steven Zirnkilton

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Reagan Family Ties

The new television season has arrived!  Many of our favorite programs are returning, so Amber West and I decided to share a few more Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday reviews to check out two of CBS’s hit series – The Mentalist and Blue Bloods

First up – Blue Bloods

 

The Reagan family loves each other and New York City.  Each member of the Reagan family serves, or has served, their city in one way or another. 

Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck, also known as the man with the best looking mustache in the industry, Magnum, and Jesse Stone), is the current NYC Police Commissioner.  Frank is the patriarch of the Reagan family, even though his father Henry lives with him under the same roof. 

Frank served in the marines and is a Vietnam veteran.  He is widowed and also suffered the untimely loss of his son, Joseph Reagan, who died while on the job, also serving New York City (later revealed to be at the hands of The Blue Templar, a group of rogue cops). 

The job of Police Commissioner in New York City is grueling enough, but throw in the added pressure of a mayor seeking re-election (played by Bruce Altman) who is constantly riding the commissioner’s case, and one can see why Frank needs a drink at the end of every day. 

Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg) is one of the top detectives on the NYPD squad.  Danny gets the job done, even if he doesn’t follow the letter of the law to a “T”.  Like his father, he is a former marine and Iraq war veteran.   While Tom Selleck receives top billing, and rightfully so, Donnie Wahlberg is the star of the series. 

When one initially hears the name Donnie Wahlberg, they recall his role in the ‘90s boy band, New Kids on the Block.  However, Donnie has had many fantastic performances in both television and motion pictures proving himself as an actor, including HBO’s Band of Brothers, NBC’s Boomtown, and Hollywood blockbusters such as Ransom, The Sixth Sense, and the Saw franchise (movies 2, 3, and 4). 

Jamie Reagan (Will Estes, American Dreams) is the newest of the Reagan family to join the force, currently working the streets as a rookie cop.  Jamie attended Harvard Law planning to follow in his big sister’s footsteps, however he changed his mind after graduation to join the NYPD like his brothers, father, and grandfather before him. 

Because he was new to the force, the FBI approached Jamie to provide information as it pertained to The Blue Templar.  Through his investigations, Jamie learned that his brother Joe was helping the FBI uncover information about these dirty cops as well, and that these rogue officers were responsible for his brother’s death.

Erin Reagan-Broyle (Bridget Moynahan from Sex and the City and Coyote Ugly), the only daughter of Frank and his late wife, is an up-and-coming Assistant District Attorney.  Divorced and raising a teenage daughter (Sami Gayle), Erin tends to be the voice of reason that helps hold her family together, besides her father that is. 

Erin tries to keep Danny in line so that her convictions of his arrests will stick; but, despite his love for his sister, no one can make Danny follow the book.  In addition to balancing her family and her career, Erin must also decide if it’s appropriate to date her boss, a man gunning for the mayoral race and who will undoubtedly remove her father as Police Commissioner.       

Henry Reagan (Tony Award winning actor, Len Cariou), or Grandpa, is the retired NYC Police Commissioner.  Henry lives with his son Frank, or Francis as he calls him, and provides support to his son and the entire family.

Blue Bloods also has a stellar supporting cast: Jennifer Esposito (Samantha Who?, Spin City) plays Jackie Curatola, Danny’s partner; Amy Carlson (Another World, Third Watch) plays Linda Reagan, Danny’s wife and mother to their two sons; Nicholas Turturro (NYPD Blue, Third Watch) plays Sgt. Anthony Renzulli, Jamie’s partner; and Emmy Award winning and Tony Award nominated actor, Bobby Cannavale (Will & Grace, Third Watch) plays Erin’s boss and District Attorney, Charles Rossellini.  

Okay, so there is a ton of programming on television today, so what’s special about Blue Bloods? Every episode features at least one family gathering around the dinner table at Frank’s house, an aspect of television today that is often times overlooked. 

The Reagan family represents America’s finest fighting crime every Friday night in New York City, but the relationship shared among the characters is the real hero.   Because of this, I award Blue Bloods the GTV rating – this gourmet television program has everything we want, and more.  Fitting, considering Frank meets someone for lowball whiskey cocktails and fine steak dinners in restaurants with linen table clothes in most of the episodes. 

What do you think? Have you watched Blue Bloods?  Who’s your favorite Reagan? Are you like me and would watch Tom Selleck in just about anything? What do you think of Donnie Wahlberg – he has come a long way from singing and dancing with the New Kids, hasn’t he?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and check out her review of The Mentalist….is Simon Baker’s character, Patrick Jane, not just the tiniest bit fabulous?  

CBS is so hot, that Amber and I can’t quite leave.  Come back next week when we continue to review a few more of our favorite programs on the hit channel –The Good Wife and Criminal Minds.

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.  We’re currently working on our September schedule and would love to chat with you!

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
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
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

Tele-Tuesday: Fall Brings More Laughs…and adds Dinosaurs and Screams

It’s that time of year again!  The fall television schedule is right around the corner and, as always, the networks have a lineup of many new programs to accompany our returning favorites. 

This is week three, and we’re still introducing more of the new television programs this fall.  Some of the series have promise, while others may flop – but, regardless, we’ll tune in to check them out!

Today, it’s time for even more new comedy, plus a new sci-fi program and horror series!

*****

Terra Nova – FOX

Fox joins the science fiction revolution with Terra Nova, a story that follows a family’s journey back in time to pre-historic days searching for answers to protect the human race in 2149.  The land seems perfect, except for a few life threatening downfalls –dinosaurs and renegades known as the Sixers. 

Terra Nova stars Jason O’Mara (Life on Mars) as Jim Shannon, the family’s patriarch and sheriff of the Terra Nova colony, and Stephen Lang (Gods and Generals, Avatar) as Commander Nathaniel Taylor, the leader of Terra Nova.      

Other notables: Steven Spielberg serves as an executive producer along with other members of the 24, Falling Skies, and Fringe teams.   

Terra Nova premieres Monday, September 26th.

*****

Suburgatory – ABC

Suburgatory follows single dad George Altman (Jeremy Sisto, Law & Order and Clueless) as he relocates with his teenage daughter, Tessa, from New York City to a suburban neighborhood.  Tessa immediately feels that her father has moved her into another dimension with all of the seemingly perfect families, and is mortified by the perky mothers and plastic surgery obsessed teenage girls. 

Will George and Tessa survive their life inside their very own suburban purgatory? 

Other notables: Suburgatory also stars Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) as Dallas Royce (perfect rich suburban mom name, right?), Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Dollhouse), and Saturday Night Live alums Chris Parnell (Archer) and Ana Gasteyer. 

Suburgatory premieres Wednesday, September 28th.

*****

How to be a Gentleman – CBS

How to Be a Gentleman stars David Hornsby (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Six Feet Under) as Andrew Carlson, a writer assigned with the task of adding sexiness to his column.  The problem?  Andrew isn’t all that familiar with sexiness.  

Therefore, Andrew hires Bert Lansing (Kevin Dillon, Entourage), a friend and current fitness trainer, for guidance.  The phrases “opposites attract” and “night and day” come to mind when researching this new comedy. 

Other notables: How to be a Gentleman is based on a book of the same name by John Bridges, and also stars funny man Dave Foley (The Kids in the Hall, Celebrity Poker Showdown), and Jack Bauer’s right hand woman, Chloe O’Brian – aka Mary Lynn Rajskub (24). 

How to Be a Gentleman premieres Thursday, September 29th.

*****

American Horror Story – FX

From the creators of the FX great, Nip/Tuck, American Horror Story stars Dylan McDermott (The Practice, Dark Blue) and Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights) as husband and wife, Ben and Vivien Harmon.  FX usually keeps “mum” on their new series; however, we do know that Ben and Vivien move into a haunted mansion….and the story is spooky!    

Other notables: American Horror Story also stars Francis Conroy (Six Feet Under), Denis O’Hare (True Blood), and Zachary Quinto (Heroes, Star Trek), as well as Hollywood great and Academy Award winning actress, Jessica Lange (King Kong, Tootsie, Cape Fear, need I say more?). 

Isn’t the cast alone worthy of a watch?

American Horror Story premieres Wednesday, October 5th.

*****

Last Man Standing – ABC

Last Man Standing brings comedian great Tim Allen (Home Improvement, The Santa Clause movies) back to television as Mike Baxter, an adventurous “manly-man” working for an outdoor sporting goods store.  But, when Mike gets home, he’s surrounded by women: his wife (Nancy Travis, Three Men and a Baby, Becker, and The Bill Engvall Show) and three daughters. 

How will Mike adapt when his wife goes back to work and he has to stick around the house a bit more? 

Other notables:  Last Man Standing also stars Hector Elizondo (Chicago Hope, Monk) as Ed, Mike’s boss. 

Last Man Standing premieres Tuesday, October 11th.

*****

What do you think?  Will you tune in to watch any of these new shows?  Which one most interests you?  Which of these shows will make it and which ones won’t? I’d love to hear from you!

Friday FabOoolousness – A Writer’s Life….in Movies

Everyone loves movies, particularly writers.  Writers find it extremely helpful to use movies as tools to identify crucial elements to the story making process, and even better yet, as research.

So, why not reminisce about some of the recent decades’ most popular movies about writers? 

*****

Romancing the Stone (1984)

This widely successful film stars Kathleen Turner as fictional romance novelist, Joan Wilder. 

Joan is lonely, living with her cat in her New York City apartment, when she receives a phone call from her recently widowed sister who claims to have been kidnapped by antiquities smugglers. As ransom, the smugglers demand a treasure map that Joan received in the mail from her brother-in-law.

Ransom demand in hand, Joan sets off to Cartagena, Colombia.  After a bit of a wild and crazy detour, Joan learns that other criminals want this treasure map as well.  She meets Jack Colton (Michael Douglas) and he promises to guide her through the jungle for a small monetary fee, not aware of what he’s gotten himself into. 

After sharing a romantic exchange, Joan and Jack decide to follow the map on their own.  They find a beautiful emerald, but not before one of the kidnappers (Danny DeVito) finds them.   One thing leads to another; Joan finally exchanges the stone for her sister, and shares her adventures in Cartagena by writing a novel when she returns to the city. 

Romancing the Stone has romance, action, suspense, and comedy.   In 1985, the movie was followed by a sequel, The Jewel of the Nile, also starring Turner, Douglas, and DeVito.   

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if all writers encountered a love affair, mystery, or adventure of our own to help push us through our stories?

*****

Her Alibi (1989)

Tom Selleck stars as Phil Blackwood, a fictional mystery novelist who meets his muse while sitting in a courtroom.  Blackwood forges an alibi for Nina (supermodel Paulina Porizkova), the beautiful Romanian woman accused of murder, and she is released into his custody. 

Blackwood takes Nina back to his house and begins plotting his story as he fantasizes himself in the role of his protagonist living with a mysterious woman.  Suspicions set in, however, after a police detective pays him a visit and places doubts in Blackwood’s head about Nina’s innocence.  Blackwood further questions just how well he knows this woman after she throws a kitchen knife across the room, stabbing and killing a bug crawling up a cabinet just inches from his face.

Not knowing if he’s made the right decision to protect this woman, and definitely not able to stop his romantic feelings for her, Blackwood follows Nina to a clown festival where they encounter the Romanian operatives responsible for the crime in which she was accused. 

How far will writers go to find the ever-important muse?

*****

Misery (1990)

Based on Stephen King’s novel, Misery stars James Caan as fictional novelist, Paul Sheldon.

On his way to deliver a new novel to his publicist, a story not related to the successful series that his readership has grown to admire, Sheldon crashes his car deep in the desolate woods during a blizzard.  Badly bruised and with multiple broken bones, including both legs, Sheldon is rescued by Annie (Kathy Bates), a nurse who just so happens to be his number one fan. 

Grateful for her hospitality, Sheldon agrees to let Annie read his new novel.  Unfortunately for Sheldon, she doesn’t like the new story and is offended by his language.  This disappointment sends Annie into a crazed tailspin where she obsesses about other mistakes in his storytelling; she tortures him, drugs him, spills hot soup on him, forces him to burn his manuscript, and finally takes a sledgehammer to his ankles.

Eventually, Sheldon escapes, and the movie ends just as he meets another number one fan…

Writers, how painful would it be to be forced to burn one of our manuscripts?  Does this story make us re-evaluate the importance of a “number one” fan?    

*****

Secret Window (2004)

Based on another Steven King story, Secret Window, Secret Garden, this psychological thriller stars Johnny Depp as fictional author, Mort Rainey. 

Secret Window keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, watching as Rainey spends most of his days alone in his cabin, agonizing over his wife’s (Maria Bello) affair which has created an untimely case of writer’s block. 

What’s worse than a writer suffering from writer’s block?  Being accused of plagiarism, of course. 

Rainey doesn’t believe he, the successful writer, stole the work of his crazed accuser (played by the great John Turturro).  After his dog is murdered, Rainey hires a private investigator (Charles S. Dutton) to look after the man. 

The movie takes an interesting turn when it’s revealed that Rainey is actually suffering from an identify disorder and has assumed the role of his character.  He lives out his story first hand by imagining the man accusing him of plagiarism, and by seeking revenge against his unfaithful wife and her lover (Timothy Hutton), thus overcoming his writer’s block. 

Are writers really this crazy?

*****

Did you enjoy any of these movies? What other movies about writers do you enjoy?  Writers, do you use movies and television programs as research for your stories?  I’d love to hear from you!

Tele-Tuesday: Fall Wouldn’t Be the Same Without New Crime and Drama

It’s that time of year again!  The fall television schedule is right around the corner and, as always, the networks have a lineup of many new programs to accompany our returning favorites. 

Similar to the last two weeks, we’re introducing more of the new television programs this fall.  Some of the series have promise, while others may flop – but, regardless, we’ll tune in to check them out!

Today, it’s time for new crime and drama!

****

 Unforgettable – CBS

Unforgettable stars Poppy Montgomery (Without a Trace) as former New York City detective Carrie Wells.  Carrie remembers everything:  every moment and every aspect of every day.   When asked to help the police solve a crime, Carrie is reunited with her ex, Detective Al Burns (Dylan Walsh, Nip/Tuck).  Carrie decides to rejoin the force with one major goal – solve her sister’s murder.

Other notables: Marilu Henner (Taxi) plays two roles: first as a production consultant (similar to the main character, Henner possesses the rare ability to recall all autobiographical events, a condition known as hyperthymesia) and second as a recurring guest; and, Michael Gaston (The Mentalist) plays Detective Mike Costello.

Unforgettable premieres Tuesday, September 20th.

*****

Revenge – ABC

Revenge stars Emily VanCamp (Everwood) as Emily Thorne, a young and beautiful addition to the rich and prestigious Hamptons.   Emily’s arrival isn’t her first trip to the neighborhood.  When she was a little girl, her father was framed for murder and Emily vows revenge against those responsible – primarily the Grayson family. 

Other notables: Revenge is loosely based on Alexandre Dumas’ novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, and the series also stars Madeleine Stowe (from many motion pictures including Stakeout, Twelve Monkeys, and The General’s Daughter) as Victoria Grayson. 

Revenge premieres Wednesday, September 21st.

*****

Charlie’s Angels – ABC

Yet another adaptation of the popular ‘70s television program that starred Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, and Cheryl Ladd, to only name a few, this remake of Charlie’s Angels stars three new young and beautiful starlets: Annie Ilonzeh (General Hospital) as Kate Prince, a former dirty cop; Minka Kelly (Friday Night Lights, The Roommate) as Eve French, a former street racer; and, Rachael Taylor (Grey’s Anatomy) as Abby Sampson, a former thief.   The three angels work for John Bosley (Ramon Rodriguez, Day Break and The Wire), the face of Charlie’s agency (Townsend Detective Agency), and will protect each other at all costs. 

Other notables: Charlie’s Angels is produced by Drew Barrymore, an angel herself in the motion picture hits; Leonard Goldberg, an original producer of the ‘70s hit; and,  Nancy Juvonen, producer of the major motion pictures starring Drew  Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy LiuRobert Wagner was supposed to follow in John Foresythe’s footsteps as the voice of Charlie; however, Wagner had to leave the project due to other conflicts.

Charlie’s Angels premieres Thursday, September 22nd.

*****

Person of Interest – CBS

Person of Interest stars Michael Emerson (Lost) as billionaire Mr. Fitch, and Jim Caviezel (from many motion picture blockbusters including A Thin Red Line and The Passion of the Christ) as former CIA agent, John Reese.  The two men find each other after Mr. Fitch creates a software program that has the ability to predict crimes.  Fitch seeks out Reese to help solve these crimes before they happen.  Why?  Because the former CIA agent is presumed dead – who better to help stop these crimes before they happen than a dead man?  

Other notables: Person of Interest is produced by J.J. Abrams (Alias, Lost, Fringe); and, also stars Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) as Carter, the detective on a mission to find Reese. 

Person of Interest premieres Thursday, September 22nd.

*****

 Prime Suspect – NBC

Based on the British drama series of the same name, Prime Suspect stars Maria Bello (Coyote Ugly, ER) as Detective Jane Timoney.  Jane’s confidence, lack of tact and reckless behavior make her adjustment in the New York City homicide division challenging.  Will her fine detective skills and her ability to focus on the case at hand help her fit into the all-male department?

Other notables:  Prime Suspect also stars Aidan Quinn (Legends of the Fall, Practical Magic, and TV’s Third Watch) as Lieutenant Kevin Sweeney; Kirk Acevedo (Fringe) as Detective Luisito Calderon;  Peter Gerety as Jane’s father, Desmond; and, Tim Griffin, Damon Gupton, and Brian F. O’Byrne as other members of the  homicide department. 

Prime Suspect premieres Thursday, September 22nd.

*****

A Gifted Man – CBS

A Gifted Man stars Patrick Wilson (The Phantom of the Opera, The A-Team, Insidious) as Michael Holt, a self-absorbed New York City surgeon whose life is turned upside down when his ex-wife haunts him from beyond the grave and asks him to continue her work in a free clinic.   Michael’s life changes for the better, pleasing his sister (Christina played by Julie Benz, Dexter and No Ordinary Family), while leaving his assistant (Rita played by Margo Martindale, Justified) questioning his recent career choices. 

Other notables: A Gifted Man is produced by Academy Award winning director, Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs); and Twilight and The Twilight Saga: New Moon alumnus, Rachelle Lefevre (vampire Victoria) plays Kate, a doctor at the free clinic.

A Gifted Man premieres Friday, September 23rd.  

*****

What do you think?  Will you tune in to watch any of these new drama and crime programs on television this year?  Which one most interests you?  Which of these shows will make it and which ones won’t? I’d love to hear from you!

Tele-Tuesday #8 – New to Summer 2011

Every summer, the major networks pick up at least one new show hoping to break it big with huge ratings success.  With June just a hop-skip-and-a-jump away, here are a few of the programs that might fit your television tastes.  Give ‘em a try!

ABC: The Hot ZoneThe new medical drama

The Hot Zone follows the medical staff, consisting of nurses and doctors from the allied nations (the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia), in Afghanistan as they treat the men and women fighting to protect their country’s freedom.  The show stars a few familiar faces: Elias Koteas (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Shutter Island), Michelle Borth (The Forgotten and Hawaii Five-0), and Luke Mably (The Gates).  Premiers Tuesday, June 21ST

NBC: Love BitesThe new romantic comedy

Love Bites follows a single girl (Becki Newton from Ugly Betty and Guiding Light) dating in New York City while searching for love, and a Venice Beach married couple (Constance Zimmer from Entourage and Boston Legal, and Greg Grunberg from Heroes and Alias). Love Bites plans to feature an array of guest stars including Jennifer Love Hewitt (Ghost Whisperer), Lindsay Price (90210 and Eastwick), and Guillermo Diaz (Weeds and Half Baked) just to name a few. Premiers Thursday, June 2ND

USA: Necessary Roughness – The new sports series

Necessary Roughness follows a New York woman attempting to balance her family and her career following a recent divorce.  She accepts a position as a therapist for a professional football team, and is assigned to assist the team’s star receiver in actually catching the ball.  Callie Thorne (Rescue Me and Prison Break) stars as Dani Santino along with Scott Cohen (The Gilmore Girls and Law & Order: Trial by Jury), Mehcad Brooks (True Blood and Desperate Housewives), and Marc Blucas (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Knight and Day).  As an added bonus, the show is inspired by a true story.  Premiers Wednesday, June 29th

USA: Suits – The new legal series

Instructed by a partner to hire another brilliant Harvard Law graduate for his Manhattan law firm, Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht from Whiteout and Love and Other Drugs) recruits a brilliant new associate, Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams from Friday Night Lights and many other cameo appearances on popular television shows).  But, Mike has a huge secret – he never graduated college, yet alone law school.  The two unconventional minds work together balancing the law and lying to everyone – now that’s a dilemma, right?  Premiers Thursday, June 23rd

Unfortunately, many of the summer shows on the basic cable channels don’t fare well; however, there are a few that return this year including Rookie Blue (ABC) and Flashpoint (CBS).  The USA network, on the other hand, ROCKS the summer broadcasting, and I’m personally looking forward to their new shows this summer!

What shows are you looking forward to checking out this summer? Do you prefer sex, dating, and  marriage comedies, medical dramas, legal series, or sports-themed television?  I’d love to hear from you!