Archive | August, 2011

True Blood: Let’s Get Out of Here Episode Review

31 Aug


Only True Blood can address wayward spirits, unsatisfied virgins, shape shifter issues and repercussions and sexual politics and double standards in one episode.  It’s probably why I like this show so much.

We begin with Bill and Alcide rushing Sookie to her house and Bill trying to get Sookie to take his blood to heal.  I’m honestly not quite sure how Bill managed to get away but I’ll just go with it.  I also love how we don’t see Sookie actually taking blood, and we are left to wonder if Alcide and Bill did pray as Bill suggested.  Which was a great opening scene considering how evil werewolves and vampires are supposed to be.  But that is what this show is about.  Monsters with humanity and humans who can be monsters.  And all the individuals who fall in between.  Sookie obviously takes the blood and the first thing she asks Bill about is Eric.  Ok, that’s awkward but even more awkward is that it is obvious she still cares for him.  Alcide leaves.  Bill tells Sookie to get some rest.  Like that will ever happen in Bon Temps.

Sookie has a dream… this dream, I know, is supposed to be, at least according the the show’s producers, very enlightened.  They feel they are empowering women because Sookie dreams that she loves Eric and Bill.  She then demands they both have an equal relationship with her and share.  This moment is supposed to be a great moment for the female viewers, finally getting their chance to be like men and demand they do what they like sexually.  Ok… seriously Alan Ball, if you want to do this then put it in the fucking real story line.  What is so empowering about a dream on TV in a narrative?  It’s the safe way to say something.  This is HBO.  I pay a lot per month for you guys to take chances and with the female’s sexual desire, I don’t care what you’re claiming, you are playing it safe by having this scene play out in a dream.  Now, honestly, I don’t know what woman in her right mind would want to juggle two men.  One man is hard enough.  Two would be such a time sucker in reality Sookie would probably gain weight and start looking and feeling haggard with all the emotional demands of Bill and Eric.  I’m guessing this is why you don’t always see women so avidly keeping one guy on the side.  They usually make a decision:  one or the other.  Maybe women just know that there truly is no such thing as having their cake and eating it too.  There’s always a price to pay.  Besides if men did all housework, cleaning, grocery shopping, bill paying equally (yes I know some of you actually do this), they wouldn’t have time or energy to go out looking for even more sex.  But I digress from the episode recap…

Sookie gets a visit from Debbie, who offers to help Sookie out with her problem with Antonia and locating Eric.  Debbie figures the sooner Sookie is back with Eric, the sooner Alcide will keep focused on her.  Or perhaps it’s even more sinister than that.  I’d like to give Debbie the benefit of the doubt but she’s an emotionally insecure V addict.  What we soon discover as Debby distracts Antonia while Sookie breaks into the witch shop, is that Debbie is really there to sell out Sookie and get her killed.  Debbie runs for it and Sookie doesn’t notice since she has found Eric who is under Antonia’s spell and is more robot-like than ever.  She does discover, though, that Eric is supposed to kill Bill.  Oh no.  Sookie escapes Antonia thanks to Tara and catches Debbie trying to flee.

Jessica pours her heart out to Nan, who looks like she’d like to send Jessica to the true death or at least silver her to shut up.  Jessica does get her chance with Jason later.  Hoyt asks Jason to return Jessica’s stuff to her and Jason tries to protest but he ends up at Bill’s and Jessica and Jason end up consummating their relationship, at least sexual one, in the bed of his pickup truck.  I found it amusing how Jessica covers her breasts.  A modest vampire?  Yes, I know.  She’s a perpetual virgin.

A short recap of the drama with Lafayette is that he (as Mavis) goes to Hoyt’s, kicks Hoyt out of the house, and sits there with the baby.  Eventually, Jesus comes and coaxes Mavis out of Lafayette’s body and she goes away with her dead baby in her arms.  I guess this is the heart-warming scene for the episode.

Oh yes, Tommy.  He ends up fighting with Marcus (Luna’s ex) as Sam.  Once he gets the shit beat out of him, they (the werewolves) discover Tommy’s a shifter and Sam still needs a beating (which he does in Marcus’ eyes, especially since he is in the middle of banging Luna).  I am truly hoping something interesting happens with Tommy and Sam.

Finally, Sookie makes it to the Tolerance Rally for vampires.  Nan and Bill are speaking.  Antonia is there with Eric.  There is a show of violence orchestrated by Antonia and her minions (vampires under her spell) and Sookie tears into the room screaming for Bill to “Run!”  So finally, we are going to get a Bill/Eric showdown as Eric swoops in for the attack.  But can Eric be held accountable?  He is under the influence… I’m sure we will find out next episode.

Watch Inside The Episode.

My Vlog Review of the episode.

Breaking Bad: Cornered Episode Review

29 Aug


Breaking Bad “Cornered” starts off almost exactly like the earlier episode “Bullet Points”.  Only this time, it isn’t Mike hiding in the truck, it’s two guards employed by Gus.  The truck is once again hijacked by the Mexican drug cartel wanting to muscle in on Gus’s trade.  This time, though, the two guards are killed when the cartel men funnel deadly exhaust fumes into the trailer of the truck and lock the guys in so they can’t escape.  A completely different tone than when Mike gets part of his ear shot off.  Once again, “Cornered” means two things, it refers to the teaser when the guards are cornered in the truck and it refers to Walt’s feelings about his life, his loss of control over how people perceive him and the role he has to play through half his life, the role of a docile former chemistry teacher who is a cancer survivor but isn’t that exciting while only Jesse, Walt and the audience realizes the real Walt, the one who is capable of being ruthless and fearless.

Walt’s interactions with Skyler take a turn for the worse when she realizes he didn’t want to actually get back together with her.  This realization leads to Skyler confronting him, thinking he’s crying out for help, which is an insult to all Walt stands for at this point in his life.  He stopped crying out for help in the Pilot episode and it’s been a non-stop ride as Walt becomes a fearless individual that only the threat of death could inspire him to become.  So as Skyler tries to comfort Walt, he gets increasingly agitated as what he really wants is respect for his actions.  Hence, his speech about why everyone should fear him.  “… don’t think of me in danger – I am danger.”  Skyler’s response is to take the baby and go.  Walt doesn’t seem to worry; after all, he’s gone beyond just being a dependable husband and father.  This is highlighted in his discussion with Skyler about how much money he makes.  He’s completely changed his relationship to money and power, both of which have replaced personal relationships in Walt’s world.  As Skyler says to him at the end of the episode, “Someone has to protect this family from the man who protects this family.”

Walt is also forced to confront the former car wash owner,  Bogdan, who talks down to him and tells him to be a boss, he must be tough.  Walt takes the lecture in stride, putting up with the recurring line that he must accept the car wash ‘as-is’ which Walt uses against him, taking the framed dollar from the first sale of the car wash during Bogdan’s tenure as owner.  And after Bogdan leaves, Walt smashes the frame, takes the dollar and puts it in the coke machine and buys a coke.  Yes another illustration of Walt’s new arrogance with money, and for some reason, it’s rather empowering but somehow unsettling as well.

Money comes up again when Walt buys Walt, Jr. a brand new sports car.  He was going to follow Skyler’s rules and buy Walt, Jr. a used car but when Junior says, “If you’re gonna buy me, buy me,” Walt takes it as a resounding endorsement of his new financial prowess, the male equivalent to strutting like a peacock.  The irony of the situation is that Walt started to earn the money for his family but it’s what is driving a wedge in all his relationships.  This is illustrated by the confrontation between Skyler and Walt right before the end of the episode when she demands he return the car because it will raise red flags everywhere and he blames her cautious behavior for creating problems for him with Junior.  Walt has missed that his ego is what is causing the actual problems.

Jesse and Walt have a fight about Gus’s and Mike’s intention with the new found relationship being established.  Walt is right that it is to sabotage him but that doesn’t help his frustration when Jesse is called away to ‘help’ Mike to retrieve the stolen meth.  Jesse surprises Mike by effectively dealing with the two meth-heads and Mike does give Jesse credit with Gus.  And while it seems like Jesse is gaining some self-respect through action, Walt once again relies on money to solve his problems.  When Jesse is called away, Walt decides that he’s not going to clean the lab alone (he believes it is beneath him and also he’s lost some authority as Jesse was called out to do something more important than help clean the lab and Jesse’s just a glorified assistant).  He must lash out and fight back.  He does this by hiring three women who are working in the laundry facility that is a front to hide the lab.  He pays them generously and sits back, arrogantly sipping his coffee.  He’s reminded his cavalier actions have consequences though, as the three women get carted off by one of Gus’s thugs.  He claims they are going back on a bus somewhere but that seems a bit too optimistic.  It’s getting dangerous to even interact with Walt these days.  But he doesn’t seem to mind.

It will be fascinating to see the relationship between Walt, his money and his increasing arrogance as his life continues to slowly unravel.  No matter what, we know the consequences to Walt’s actions are always steep.  That’s what makes the show so compelling to watch.

Watch “Inside Breaking Bad:  Cornered”

My Vlog Review of the episode.

Breaking Bad: Shotgun Episode Review

24 Aug


While previous Breaking Bad episodes this season tended to be Walt-centric, this episode is more about Jesse.  Don’t be fooled by Walt’s actions and the fair amount of time he has in the story because this is about how Jesse will come out of his funk and gain confidence.

We might start the episode with Walt driving like a maniac to confront Gus about Jesse’s whereabouts, and we might think Walt is finally going to pull the trigger and ice Gus.  But no.  Walt wants a confrontation but it doesn’t happen.  In fact, he looks almost ridiculous when Mike calls him on his cell phone asking him what he thinks he’s doing.  As soon as he’s determined (sort of) that Jesse’s alive for the time being, he agrees to go do the cook alone.  He’s not happy though.  His carefully order world is not functioning as smoothly as it did before.  If you disagree, re-watch the scene as Walt does the cook alone.  We are forced to endure his POV, heaving chemicals up into giant vats, hitting buttons that look like they might stop a nuclear meltdown.  He breathes heavily (I’d almost forgotten he had lung cancer), and by the time he’s finished the first part of the cook, he looks like he’s ready to collapse.  He also notices the camera watching constantly.  It adds another dimension of stress and uneasiness to his existence.  This is a different Walt.  Not calm, cool and collected like so many times before.  This Walt is unraveling.  And Jesse’s ambiguous position in the organization is helping this emotional and mental crisis along.  It’s clear Mike will play a Walt substitute, what isn’t clear is how Walt will ultimately react to being replaced as Jesse’s mentor and keeper.

Essentially, Gus is having Mike reprogram Jesse.  He’s being taught that he can be useful and possibly valued in an organization that just recently was going to have him killed.  As we suffer with Jesse, through his point-of-view (almost constantly in the drop scenes), we must feel the apprehension, terror (who hasn’t thought they may have to use their car keys against an attacker?  Jesse must have seen that episode on Oprah), mind-numbing boredom and restlessness.  Soon Jesse assumes he is there for another reason if Mike isn’t going to kill him.  He believes he is there to guard Mike and the money.  His attitude starts to change.  He begins to take pride in his work.  This leads to the moment of truth.  When Jesse sees two assailants that he believes have come to rob Mike of the drop cash.  One is carrying a shotgun.  Jesse makes his move to protect the money, using Mike’s car as a weapon.  He gets away and finds Mike then becomes a hero, at least in his own eyes.  Suddenly Jesse isn’t a loser, he’s an asset to the organization.  This is illustrated when Walt later finds Jesse breaking up the ‘meth ice’ and Jesse says that he’s taking care of business and Walt should as well.  Then Jesse announces he’s working with Mike later.  Walt is losing his power.  And he doesn’t like it.  Not one bit.

It isn’t only Jesse that Walt is losing power with.  It is Skyler as well.  Not only is Skyler going to control the drug money laundering through the new car wash business she will run, she’s controlling their relationship.  They end up sleeping together and suddenly she has him moving back in the house, determining the day it will be, telling Walt Junior before she even tells Walt himself.  Walt doesn’t look pleased that he’s returning home because that means losing a bit more autonomy.

All of Walt’s action in this particular story tend to be a reaction to Jesse.  He is not himself.  He is Jesse’s friend and mentor who is losing his place in Jesse’s life.  While Jesse is enjoying being needed, Walt is getting angrier being discounted by his own brilliant contribution to the meth landscape of New Mexico.  Even in death, Gale is reaching out, stealing Walt’s glory.  As Walt gets drunk at dinner at Hank and Marie’s he starts to poke holes in Hank’s assessment of Gale’s greatness and suggests that Hank’s Heisenberg is still out there on the loose.  Enough so that Hank gets back all the files he’s returned and re-examines the crime scene photos.  He notices a Los Pollos Hermanos bag in the evidence photos and realizes Gale is a vegan who wouldn’t eat fried chicken.  Walt got his wish.  The chase is on.

Watch AMC’s Inside the Series for this episode.

Watch my Vlog Review on YouTube.

Moonstruck and the romantic comedy

18 Aug

I love Moonstruck (Norman Jewison, 1987). I don’t care who knows it. It’s one of those films I can watch over and over and never get sick of it. Why? Because, it’s happy. That’s the simple answer. It puts me in a good mood and gives me hope. Yes. That might sound cheesy but I honestly don’t care if it does.  Romantic Comedies have been around since the late 1950s/early 1960s, probably most famously characterized by Doris Day’s films of choice (with the exception of Midnight Lace):  Send Me No Flowers, Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back.  All Doris Day romanic comedy classics. It’s also worthy to note the romantic comedy as a genre began to popularize in the 1950s, after World War II ended and  men had entered back into women’s lives as a constant, and into the work force to replace them.  In most Doris Day comedies, she starts out as a career woman but finds love as a married woman.  Sometimes, and usually, in the end, becoming a mother.  No.  Romantic comedies haven’t changed that much but at least by the 1980s, the women could find love but that usually (but not always) meant they could retain their jobs if that was part of their identity.  While this is true for Working Girl, it’s not for Pretty Woman (but does any prostitute want do keep her day job?).

Moonstruck was made in the heyday of romantic comedies, the 1980s, 1987 to be exact, when they were still not too stale. Yes, by the time Moonstruck came along, they were starting to fill the theaters but they were still a new enough genre for the female audience to be a bit more forgivable. Not that I believe anyone has to be forgivable about this film. And when I claim there were new enough, I’m asserting they had evolved from the 1950s and 1960s.  Not a great deal, but somewhat.  For instance, Romancing the Stone wouldn’t have been made in the 1950s or 1960s, and Working Girl would have had a much different outcome.

The premise of Moonstruck is simple.  Loretta becomes engaged to Johnny.  This will be her second marriage.  Her first husband was hit by a bus and she believes she has bad luck.  Johnny only proposes to Loretta because he thinks his mother is dying in Sicily and he will be free to be married (it doesn’t seem to matter that he lives in Brooklyn).  After the two become engaged, Johnny flies off to see his mother die and begs Loretta to invite Ronny, his estranged brother to their wedding.  Loretta goes to meet Ronny.  Sparks fly.  They fall in love and Johnny returns.  Loretta is faced with a choice:  marry a steady man who she thinks she can count on or take a chance with someone she knows is a ‘wolf’.

So what makes this film work?  The characters.  You have two characters, Ronny (Nicholas Cage) and Loretta (Cher).  Neither one is actually likable on the outside but as the narrative unfolds, we see that while they at first seem disagreeable and disillusioned with life, they are actually secretly hopeful and longing to live and be happy.  And it’s the effect they have on each other that moves the narrative forward, in spite of Loretta’s misgivings and guilt over being attracted to her future brother-in-law.  Perhaps what I love about this movie most is the speech Ronny gives Loretta when they both know they should be together but she resists.  It’s really a speech that not only exposes the underpinnings of why the romantic comedy works as a genre, but affirms to female viewers that love doesn’t work at all how they were raised to expect it.  Ronny declares:  Loretta, I love you.  Not Like they told you love is.  And I didn’t know this either.  But love don’t make things nice.  It ruins everything.  It breaks your heart.  It makes things a mess.  We aren’t here to make things perfect…. We are here to ruin ourselves and break our hearts and love the wrong people and die.  This speech goes along with one of the themes of the film:  betrayal.  Loretta and Ronny betray Johnny (Danny Aiello) while Cosmo (Vincent Gardenia)  betrays Rose (Olympia Dukakis) with Mona (Anita Gillette).  Rose in turn, has the opportunity to betray Cosmo with Perry (John Mahoney).  And we learn that while some betrayals must occur in order to service true love (Ronny and Loretta), others are misguided attempts to cheat death (Cosmo and Mona).

As the characters navigate their twists and turns toward understanding themselves and love, the narrative unfolds within the framework of the safety of the family; almost all of Loretta’s interactions are with family or friends or clients who are so close they might as well be family.  We see Ronny as the opposite, estranged from his entire family, living in the building that seems more like a prison, especially the ovens where he spends his days baking bread under the bakery.  It’s Loretta’s journey to reach outside her family safety net and try for a new life that ultimately brings Ronny into her family.  The entire narrative also consistently refers to Ronny’s favorite opera, La Boheme and its story of tragedy and loss of a love that wasn’t valued when it should have been.   So we are reminded that this story can go either way, depending on whether our characters can understand the importance of love in their relationships, hence why Ronny’s speech to Loretta is so important, just after they go to the opera on their only date.  To add to the mixture, the moon is considered a key ingredient in this almost magical love story that takes place over the course of a few days.  Honestly, it feels longer since by the end of the story, all characters have made life changing decisions, but perhaps that’s what’s so profound in this film.  You never know who you are going to meet and how the will change your life.  Oh, and cover up your gray hair if you’re under 60.  It ages you unnecessarily.  A key lesson for any female.  Or male, if you want the truth…

True Blood: Spellbound Review

17 Aug

Things are heating up in Bon Temps and True Blood is living up to its promise of lots of sex and death.  At least for Jessica!  Spoiler Alert!

We start the episode right where the previous episode left off, with Jessica standing in the blinding sunlight, but before she can burst into flames, Jason tackles her and gets her safely back into the house without too much incident.  Ok.  He did have to shoot a guard in the shoulder.  Jessica is so grateful, she kisses him.  And the damage is done.  There’s an even stronger bond between the two now that we witness as Jason carries Jessica up the stairs and gently and lovingly (yes, really) re-silvers her.  If that isn’t enough, Jessica has a dream (but we don’t know it’s a dream until after) and breaks up with Hoyt, who begs her to stay, threatening he will die without her.  He gets so annoying she slams his head off a shelf or counter (I honestly couldn’t tell what it was) and kills him, splattering herself with his blood in the process.  She runs out to Jason, who is waiting for her in the truck.  He gets turned on seeing her covered in blood and tells her they need to have sex immediately in the truck.  Jessica wakes up with her fangs out.   Later, Jessica does go to break up with Hoyt but he ends up breaking it off with her and he rescinds her invitation into the house.  She goes straight to Jason who then tells her they can’t be together since Hoyt is his best friend and he rescinds his invitation to her and once again she’s thrown out of the house.  It’s been a bad 24 hours for Jessica, but at least she’s alive.  She just might be extremely sexually frustrated.  This Jessica/Jason/Hoyt triangle is heating up and this is just the beginning.  I can’t wait to see what happens in the next few weeks.

While Jason might be abstaining, Sookie is going wild with Eric.  And you know it’s all going to end soon since we are into the third episode of their sexual escapades.  Things are going to get bad very fast, I’m guessing, since nobody gets to be that happy and sexually satisfied on this show.  Sookie allows Eric to drink some of her blood to heal his wounds from the silver and then he bites his hand and tells her that “they will become one” and she drinks his blood.  They then have sex for what will be the final time in a while, I’m guessing, considering it was sex on a V/Faerie Blood trip.  I’m actually sad to see it end because it was nice to see nice Eric.  Yes, I know evil Eric is far more exciting sometimes but nice Eric had his good points.

Sam visits Shifter Chick and her daugther.  Yes, I know I should know her name (okay it is Luna) but I just prefer to think of her as Shifter Chick.  Werewolf Pack Leader Dude shows up as he’s Shifter Chick’s ex-husband and faces off with Sam.  I’m sure there will be more posturing and wild animal fights to follow as we proceed through the season.  And Tommy pretends to be Hoyt’s mother and gets a check for mineral rights on her property.  Bad Tommy.  But is anyone really surprised?

Lafayette dreams of the Creole Lady, who is actually named Mavis and we discover she had a white lover in the 1930s who killed their baby because he was married and the baby had a black mother.  Lafayette wakes up in time to experience Mavis inhabiting his body.  She then uses Lafayette to sneak into the Bellefleur mansion and kidnap baby Mikey (taking Andy’s gun as he and everyone else sleeps).  I can’t wait to see how that storyline plays out.

Bill is busy negotiating a meeting with Antonia/Marnie for a truce.  He calls on Eric for help.  Sookie comes along and there is a face-off of witches vs. vampires in the graveyard.  Antonia is supposed to lift the spell for Eric and Pam and stop her attacks.  Sookie hears her start to say a spell in her head and warns Bill.  A deadly battle ensues.  Pam almost gets to kill Tara but Bill commands her to stop.  Pam gets pissed and Tara’s surprised.  She shouldn’t have been as Bill might be a bit boring sometimes (less so lately) but he tries to do the right thing when he can.  Eric becomes Antonia’s bitch.  She has him under her spell.  Sookie gets attacked by a witch and fights him off with her power, only to be shot by another witch.  Bill gets silvered and neutralized so he can’t help.  Lucky for Sookie, Alcide anticipates a problem and shows up, just in time to save her.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t notice a very angry, jealous Debbie has followed him.

Next week should be good, considering Eric won’t be able to help Sookie recover.  In the teaser, it looks like Bill might be helping.  Along with Alcide.  Debbie will, I’m certain, have something in store for Sookie.  It looks like the witches have only just begun their Reign of Terror in Bon Temps.

Watch Inside the Episode on HBO for an in-depth look at the episode.

Watch my Vlog Review on YouTube.

Death Note: a journey from good into pure evil

16 Aug

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started watching the series, Death Note. It’s the first time I’ve ventured into anime and manga territory. A good friend promised I’d like it so I took the plunge and I’m glad I did, although I’ve got to say I was exhausted by the end of the series. Not in a bad way, but I felt as if I’d battled all the bad forces myself.

The TV series Death Note is based on the manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and artist Takeshi Obata.  It begins as a simple story.  Light Yagami, a high school student discovers a notebook dropped by a god of death (known as a shinigami) on Earth.  The notebook has supernatural powers and a set of rules.  The person who finds the notebook, in this case, Light, has the power to kill anyone he wants, by picturing his victim in his mind then writing his name down in the notebook.  First, Light hesitates to use the notebook but slowly he decides it is his destiny to use the notebook for ‘good’ and to cleanse the evil from the world.  Did I mention his father is head of the police?

Light’s killing spree first is only targeted at criminals but the mysterious deaths attract international law enforcement to the case and a nemesis, L, comes into Light’s life.  By this time Light is enrolled in university and has managed to attract the interest of two different girls; one girl, his stalker, is given her own death notebook by another shinigami and she manages to get Light’s attention.  At the same time, he flirts with a successful journalism student who also likes him.  While Light has obvious psychopathic delusions of greatness, the one thing that I found upsetting was he ruthlessly used both these women who loved him.  And while I believe it could be argued that was part of the power derived from all the killing from his notebook, I would have liked to have seen a glimmer of decency in his character.

The story moves at a fast enough pace that if you are in the US and streaming it on Netflix where it is available, it will be hard to stop watching.  Watching Light go from a decent person to a deadly psychopath is at once fascinating, exciting and disheartening.  Because you realize early on, there cannot be a happy ending for Light.  In fact, you have to wonder if there can be a happy ending for anyone crossing Light’s path.  Ultimately, this story is about good turning to evil.  But more importantly, it asks the question:  what is any one person’s moral compass?  How can they seem good, been raised by a good, loving family, and have one thing happen, make the wrong choice and have their lives spiral out of control?  Because that’s what happens with Light.  Although if you asked him, he was in complete control.  He just never realized he lost it when he made the ill-fated decision of writing in the notebook and assuming a power he never should have had.  I like to think of this as a thriller that’s also a cautionary tale to anyone starting out in life, making decisions they think will only affect them, but really, they effect everyone in their lives, for better or worse.  In Light’s case, it’s much worse.  Lucky for us his spiral into evil is so entertaining.  I just wish he’d had a bit more capacity to actually love, because I think if he had, things might not have gotten so bleak for the world with him in it.

There are 37 episodes in the series.  I watched the whole thing over a week.  I’ve got to say I was sad when it ended.  And… I secretly liked the opening song, “The World”, by the 7th or 8th episode, apparently by a Japanese rock group called Nightmare .  That’s what I like about watching genres you might never try, they might surprise you and you might discover a whole new world of entertainment out there that you’d never consider.  So, I strongly recommended giving this series a try.

Against the Wall: a real female detective

16 Aug

Ok.  I’m going to be honest.  I know I should be on the cutting edge of knowing every single TV show and when they are airing.  But… I don’t.  There are so many now, it’s sometimes overwhelming if you are like me and actually like television.  I wouldn’t know about Against the Wall if iTunes didn’t have a free preview of it.  I’m not as in tune with Lifetime Network as I probably should be.  I’m wondering if my father knows about the show because he is the secret Lifetime Movie Network addict.  Whenever I go home, I inevitably walk in on him watching a TV movie that he’s either so into you can’t speak to him or he’s snoring through.  I guess nobody let him know he’s not the target audience for female-driven melodramas.  I don’t feel like telling him.  It always gives me a bit of hope to see men watching shows targeted at women.  I just find this ironic since  I am a female over 30 who should be their target audience.  But I don’t always go in for the girly shows.  Yes, sometimes I do.  I secretly like Drop Dead Diva.  Or did.  I missed this most of this season.  Actually it is currently airing on Lifetime on Sunday nights, right before Against the Wall created by Annie Brunner (Saving Grace, Any Day Now, Huff).

First, I was wary of any female cop show that was going to air on Lifetime.  All I could think of was some sort of cuddly, hormonal hour-long burden that I would resent because it made women look far too stereotypical.  But I don’t believe that’s what’s actually going on in this show.  Abby Kowalski (Rachael Carpani) comes from a family of cops – all male.  She’s the ambitious one and the pilot episode is about her first day on the job as a detective – of Internal Affairs, the most hated department in all police precincts.  We watch as she deals with having to disclose to her entire family she’s essentially joined ranks with the enemy.  Only her mother, Sheila (Kathy Baker), gives her any support.  And yes, this is a female-driven crime drama.  Abby’s IA partner is a pregnant detective, Lina (Marisa Ramirez), and there’s some tension but yeah, they actually get along.   No, this show is not as fun-loving as Castle.  And in no way is it  Cagney and Lacey.  It’s somewhere in the middle.  Abby is a woman who is at once confident in her professional life and yet insecure when it comes to her father.  She doesn’t, however, let that stop her from going after her goals.  She’s also a bit of a klutz.  It’s always nice to see another women who tries to keep it together knock over a display at a grocery store or trip over her own feet.  This keeps her more real than the traditional female cops we tend to get who are no nonsense and never make mistakes.  She reminds me of a less intense Brenda (The Closer) when she secretly eats her Ding Dongs or other chocolate snacks in the midst of a personal or professional crisis.  Because yes, women turn to chocolate.  In Abby’s case, her brother’s police partner is her fix, the guy she uses for sex when she’s got a problem.  Yes, women do that as well.  Again, a bit more real.

This show is about watching Abby rise professionally in a world that is hostile to her job and department, and yet each week we see her still come out a winner.  It’s also about a woman who isn’t good in romantic relationships and is sometimes overwhelmed by family expectations.  In other words, it’s about a human being.  Who happens to be female.

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