The Morning Round-Up: 'The River' & 'Southland'
It's morning round-up time, with brief thoughts on last night's "The River" and "Southland" coming up just as soon as I get the cops to shut my bar mitzvah down...
"Peaches" was the last of the 5 episodes of "The River" ABC sent me in advance of the premiere, and I would call it the best of the non-pilot episodes, if not the best episode period. It helped that the focus shifted away from all the Cole family drama and re-oriented itself into a show where
Lily Lena was temporarily the main character and the search for her dad was paramount. I don't know that Lena's a richer character than Lincoln, but Eloise Mumford is giving a much, much better performance than Joe Anderson, and she did a great job of playing the wave of emotions that washed over her as she found her dad, then lost him forever in rapid succession.
Also helpful: 1)We actually got a scene where Jahel had a normal conversation about everyday life, instead of just serving as an exposition device who knows every local superstition despite not being native to this part of the world; and 2)Somebody actually died this week, even if it wasn't a regular and even if Russ had technically already died before the episode began. I'm not saying the show has to kill a crewmember every single episode, but for the danger of the jungle to feel real, there have to be consequences every now and again, and last week we actually got a character who returned from the dead (in somewhat confusing fashion). The ratings haven't been good, but there are only a few episodes to go before "Dancing with the Stars" returns, so I expect ABC to stick it out and then not renew the show. It never seemed like something conducive to a long lifespan, but I've enjoyed what I've seen so far and will ride this to the end.
And continuing with the idea of a show where I'd rather someone be the lead who isn't, "Southland" doesn't technically have a lead, but the longer this season has gone on, the more I've come to view it as The Cooper & Tang Show. There's been some good stuff involving Sammy and Ben, and I like Regina King (even as I'm tired of every single one of Lydia's cases being a teaching moment about her impending motherhood), but the chemistry between Michael Cudlitz and Lucy Liu, and the way these two battle-scarred veterans work together and get through day after bizarre/depressing/horrifying day elevates those scenes to an entirely different level from the rest of the series. (And, frankly, from the old Cooper/Sherman partnership, which I enjoyed a lot but felt more repetitive than this has been.) They were terrific last week dealing with the camera crew and trying not to do anything stupid, and I thought Tang's rapidly-escalating Worst Day Ever — and then Cooper's horrified, drug-craving reaction(*) to whatever it was she was doing with the toy gun — played out perfectly, and was a much better example of how to let the personal storylines inform the policework than the more sledgehammer-y parallels Lydia deals with every week (and that Sammy and Ben dealt with last night with the two taco truck guys).
(*) D'Angelo Barksdale! Always good to see Larry Gilliard Jr., here playing Cooper's sponsor (in a scene that tried to fake us out into thinking he was a dealer Cooper was trying to buy from), though I guess I missed the memo on when he started billing himself as Lawrence.
What did everybody else think?
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
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