THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE is the MOST RELEVANT DRAMA on TV!

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It’s hard to talk about the AMAZON original series “THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE” without spoiling plot points for those who haven’t finished or worst yet, started the series. If you haven’t guessed, I think you should WATCH THIS SHOW! “THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE” is based on a book of the same name, poses the question “what would the world be like if the Nazis had won World War II?” Well, in this series, the United States would be a much different place.  The east coast and a good portion of the midwest would be under Nazi rule, while the west coast would be reigned by Japan. Between the two would be a “neutral zone” reminiscent of the lawless wild wild west.

The show is a political thriller, domestic drama and character study. It often exceeds expectations from one episode to the next.  Our heroine Juliana Crain (a great tv character name) is a strong, vulnerable, and flawed woman. Her boyfriend Frank just wants a quiet life with her in San Francisco, but when Juliana’s sister pays her a visit one night, it sets off a chain of events for the couple that will change them forever. Meanwhile, a young man in New York named Joe is on a collision course with the couple that will make him question everything he’s ever known. Set in 1962, the U.S. looks quite different than how we know it. Anyone can be pulled from their home if only suspected of being Jewish or part of the underground resistance group trying  to undo the Nazis and Japanese governments. There are no freedoms and very few liberties. Police, military or anyone from the two governments can ask to see a citizen’s papers at any moment without cause. There is very little joy in anyone’s life and what joy we see is mostly on the surface for the benefit of others. That’s all the synopsis I’ll give so not to spoil the story for you.

“THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE” has been renewed for a second season. The show delivered a fantastic season finale with a high stakes final sequence that ended with a jaw-dropping ending.  The mostly unknown cast sells every moment of the show. I’m hoping season two will make clear where Blacks, Latinos and immigrants fall within this society’s food chain.  While we see a few people of color as extras and a Black character features prominently in the season one story, it’s not clear what happened to these groups in this alternate version of history. My guess is it’s not good.

Given the current Presidential election cycle “THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE” is probably the most relevant show airing.  It’s as if the author had a crystal ball for the 2016 political environment. It’s compelling, engaging and more than just entertainment.  You won’t regret the time spent watching this show.

Have you watched “THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE”? What did you think? Comment below.

Here’s a look at the show:

 

Jennifer Lopez’s SHADES OF BLUE needs a SCRIPT DOCTOR, STAT!

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Full disclosure:  I was hesitant to watch the new Jennifer Lopez drama “SHADES OF BLUE” because the title sounds like a cancelled series.  But, I decided to watch the first three episodes and when I finished I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would. Strong performances from Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta peaked my interest in an otherwise just “ok” show.

The framework of “SHADES OF BLUE” is strong.  Detective Harlee Santos (Lopez) is a dirty cop who works for her mentor Matt Wozniak (Ray Liotta) who is also dirty. When Harlee is busted by the FBI the single mom (of course) is forced to choose between going to jail or turning on Matt. She of course agrees to help gather evidence against Matt.  Of course Matt finds out that there’s an FBI informant on his team and is hell bent on rooting out the “rat” as he calls them.  This begins a cat and mouse chase between Matt and Harlee setting up the central conflict of the series.

My biggest issue with “SHADES OF BLUE” is the dialogue.  Throughout the three episodes I kept rolling my eyes when I’d hear a line of dialogue like when Harlee tells and perp “you have the right to shut the hell up.”  It seems the writers found of box of scripts of 80’s cop movies and felt inspired to pepper “SHADES OF BLUE” with lines like “you can’t take back a bullet.”  Yikes!  I’m guessing that NBC thinks of the show as its version of a gritty cable cop.  It’s not.  It’s a broadcast drama promising high stakes but rarely delivering on that promise.  What makes the show watchable are the performances by Lopez and Liotta.

Lopez fails to make Harlee Santos a breakout tv character like Cookie Lyons on “EMPIRE”, Annalise Keating on “HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER” or Carrie Mathieson on “HOMELAND.”  I liked Harlee because I like Jennifer Lopez. Well, I don’t hate Jennifer Lopez and she plays sexy and tough effortlessly. Ray Liotta is no stranger to playing a bad cop. The 1992 film “UNLAWFUL ENTRY” came to mind as I was watching the show. He gives the strongest performance among the ensemble. Former “THE SOPRANOS” and “SONS OF ANARCHY” star Drea de Matteo co-stars as another not-so-clean detective and her talent is mostly wasted in the role. Hopefully the writers will further develop her character and drop some of the dead weight of the other supporting detective characters on their team. The series does get points for diversity, but again, instead of characterization they write the Black drug dealer like any black drug dealer you’ve seen in a myriad of movies and tv shows.

Anyone looking for a high stakes, intelligent and thoughtful drama, this isn’t it. “SHADES OF BLUE” is definitely watchable as long as you have reasonable expectations and remember you’re watching an NBC drama.

UPDATE:  NBC HAS RENEWED SHADES OF BLUE FOR A SECOND SEASON

What do you think? Are you team “BLUE?” Leave your comments below.

Check out some of the riveting dialogue from “SHADES OF BLUE” below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHOWS to BINGE during the BIG SNOW STORM!

 There’s a big snow storm that’s going to impact a large part of the country. While being stuck inside for a few days might not be ideal, it is a great time to binge watch some tv shows. Here’s a list of shows you should consider binging if you’re stuck in the storm. Most importantly, be safe!

  • Mr. Robot (USA)
  • Undateable Live (NBC)
  • Gilmore Girls (Netflix)
  • My So-Called Life (Logo)
  • Master of None (Netflix)
  • Quantico (ABC)
  • How To Get Away with Murder (ABC)
  • Younger (TV Land)
  • Satisfaction (USA)
  • Looking (HBO)
  • Shameless (Showtime)
  • Bloodline (Netflix)

Share any shows you’d add to the list in the comments below. What will you be binging?

Why CBS should END this version of “THE GOOD WIFE”

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Fist off, I’ve loved “The Good Wife” since it premiered in 2009. The story of Alicia Florrick, played by Emmy winner Julianna Margulies, as she tried to rebuild her life and law career after her husband Peter’s affair with a call-girl was exposed combined juicy family and political soap opera with weekly law cases (keeping with CBS’ staple of procedural dramas).  But “The Good Wife” transcended any procedural drama on CBS or any other network quickly becoming the best drama on broadcast television.

Co-creators of “The Good Wife” Robert and Michelle King announced this week that they are leaving the series at the end of this season. They’re vision for the show was a seven season story arc and for them this is the end.  It’s rumored that CBS is trying to negotiate deals for an eight season of the show, which means a new show runner and vision for “The Good Wife.”

I believe CBS should allow the Kings to complete their vision for “The Good Wife” at the end of this season and viewers should say farewell to Alicia Florrick and company.  Alicia deserves her happy ending and be allowed to walk off into the sunset gracefully.  However, “The Good Wife” is such a good brand that there is a way for CBS to evolve the show with new protagonists and stories.

Other networks have had success with anthology storytelling in recent years and “The Good Wife” could be a way for CBS to get into the game. The show should focus on a woman of color who is running to replace her late husband as Governor. Her only political experience has been that as First Lady of her state. She’s built a career as a successful Chief Financial Officer of a Fortune 500 company.  Her opponents will of course use her lack of political experience against her.  And even though she was able to turn her company’s financial turmoil around when she came on board, he opponents will spin things to make it look like it was her fault.  And, because she’s had a success full career, they’ll call into question her dedication to her family because she wasn’t a stay-at-home mom.  The show can focus on many themes including women in politics, race in politics, the effect of local politics on the community and the double standards when it comes to women and power.  There could also be an umbrella mystery surrounding her husbanding dealing while in office and the circumstances surrounding his death.For continuity, CBS could enlist one or two, at most, of the current characters to make guest appearances on the new incarnation of “The Good Wife” as legal counsel, or old love interest from the new “wife’s” past.

“The Good Wife” in its current incarnation should go out while still in a good place creatively.  This season hasn’t been its strongest, but it still stand out as one of the only quality dramas on broadcast tv.  CBS should give the show the dignity of going out with the vision of its original creators, the Kings.

What do you think? Should “The Good Wife” wrap up at the end of season 7?  Would you watch a new incarnation of the show in a new setting?  Comment below.

 

 

Eva Longoria and America Ferrera DESERVE BETTER!

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This winter NBC debuted a pair of new workplace comedies “Telenovela” and “Superstore” starring two popular and talented Latina actresses.  Sadly, neither of the shows is deserving to the immense talent of their leading ladies.

First, Eva Longoria whose comedic timing was one of the bright spots of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” stars as telenovela star Ana Sofia Calderon. Ana is the leading lady on her show “Las Leyes” but her life is anything but glamorous.  In this “show within a show” Ana has to contend with jealous co-stars, wacky sidekicks and her sexy ex-husband who has been added to the cast by the network. Longoria is a master at slapstick and brings a great deal of charm to the role.  One fun aspect of the character is that although Ana is a telenovela star, she’s not actually fluent in Spanish.

Unfortunately not even Eva Longoria can save the lackluster writing of “Telenovela.” It’s a shame because her supporting cast is quite strong, but after watching multiple episodes i come to same conclusion of just not caring about the world with in they operate.

With the popularity of real telenovelas, I wish a network would develop and English language version of a show that’s not a comedy (“Ugly Betty”, “Jane the Virgin”) but instead a straight forward interpretation of of the genre.

Next, Emmy winner America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”) stars in “Superstore.”  I don’t have the words to describe this show, other than NBC was trying to replicate the late comedy “Community.”  I never got that show, and I don’t get “Superstore.”  It’s writing and directing is sluggish. We’re given no reason to care or root for any of the characters.  This show is a mess and I can’t get through an entire episode without either rolling my eyes or turning it off.

America Ferrera and Eva Longoria are great talents who deserve better than what they’re being given on these shows and they should demand better.  It’s shows like these that make me want to give up on broadcast comedies.

It’s frustrating that NBC is spending a lot of time promoting these two shows while basically ignoring the best comedy on their schedule “Undateable Live.”