Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer TV 2014... What Was the Best?

Emmy winner Uzo Aduba and Lorraine Toussaint
in the best summer series "Orange is the New Black"
Gone is the idea of re-runs and mostly reality television during the summer. The networks, both broadcast and cable, have gotten into the habit of premiering scripted fare and potential new series. FOX kicked things off with Gang Related, an undercover cop drama that was like a Hispanic version of The Departed. It was really the only scripted series on FOX for this season before the fall.

ABC burned off episodes of The Assets, which it effectively cancelled back in January. It had Black Box, which was a female version of NBC's cancelled Do No Harm but Steven Pasquale was a better performer than Kelly Reilly. Mistresses proves that sex sells with no more than dangling beautiful women like Alyssa Milano and Yunjin Kim with hot guys like Jason George and Justin Hartley who returns to his soap stud roots. Motive is ABC's sophomore summer series and Rookie Blue is its other police procedural show, now in its fifth season.

NBC had yet another medical drama The Night Shift, which was only interesting thanks to a gay storyline for Brendan Fehr, a closeted doctor, and Luke MacFarlane, his army captain lover. NBC did a weird, cop series Taxi: Brooklyn, as well as various other comedies, including Undateable, Welcome to Sweden and Working the Engels.

CBS didn't seem to do well with its summer comedy Bad Teacher, but it's pushing forward with its summer sci-fi shows, Extant and Under the Dome. It also has its standard procedural shows. The network cancelled Unforgettable, which had Poppy Montgomery playing a detective with super memory powers. Yet, the network un-cancelled it in a surprising move. It's also trying to make Sundays a bit sexier with Reckless.

HBO is airing its final season of True Blood. It also has its new depressing drama The Leftovers as well as a new, Australian teen, foul-mouth comedy Jonah From Tonga, which is absolutely insufferable. TNT brought one of two Michael Bay shows to television with The Last Ship. It also gave life to Sean Bean after Games of Thrones took it away in the freshman series Legends. USA, like so many others, tried to capitalize on the idea of sexy summer fare with Rush and Satisfaction.

Other than BET and OWN, there are a few networks with African-Americans in the lead or at the center of the series. The cable network Starz has Omari Hardwick as the protagonist in Power. There was of course Taye Diggs in Murder in the First on TNT. Halle Berry is the lead of Extant and Athena Karkanis is one of the main actors in The Lottery. Gerald Johnson is Black Jesus, the new series by creator Aaron McGruder, the man behind the defunct The Boondocks. Martin Lawrence co-stars opposite Kelsey Grammar in FX's Partners. VH1 had the ridiculous Hit the Floor that again was redeemed with an interesting gay storyline involving Adam Senn and Brent Antonello with an appearance by Scott Evans.

Disney Channel brought nostalgia and saccharin-sweet in Girl Meets World. FX brought Guillermo del Toro's vision of vampires in The Strain, though I like how the series makes good use of Miguel Gómez whose best work was his guest appearance in Louie in the episode entitled "Miami," which aired in the summer of 2012. Finally, WGN waded into the scripted series fray with Manhattan, a period story about the Manhattan project.

I watched a lot, probably too much. Some critics might argue not enough, but here is my list of the best series of the hotter weather.

Best Summer TV Shows of 2014

Orange is the New Black (NETFLIX)
Rectify (SUND)
Tyrant (FX)
The Lottery (LIFE)
Extant (CBS)
Vicious (PBS/ITV)
The Awesomes (HULU)
Murder in the First (TNT)
Nurse Jackie (SHOW)
The Fosters (ABC Family)

Best Individual Performance

Aden Young - Rectify
Justin Theroux - The Leftovers
Tom Felton - Murder in the First
Ashraf Barhom - Tyrant
Brent Morin - Undateable

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

TV Review - The Lottery

Athena Karkanis (left) and Martin Donovan
in "The Lottery" on Lifetime
The series has the same premise as Children of Men (2006). It's set in the year 2025 but years after a world-wide, infertility crisis has hit. Instead of concentrating on one person, this series focuses on three. The show isn't as far into the hopelessness and despair of the amazing film by Alfonso Cuarón. The film, for example, had no actual children under the age of 10, nor under the age of 18. This series does have those little children, which allows the show to examine parenthood.

The film had such a post-apocalyptic tone to it, which extended to the production design and various aspects, but the tone of this series is not really post-apocalyptic or as bleak. It's more close to contemporary life than the film was. The whole concept and premise of this series is a rather hopeful one.

Marley Shelton stars as Dr. Alison Lennon, a scientist working on the infertility crisis. She and her team, which includes James, played by David Alpay, are able to create 100 embryos. This happens after a ton of random people donate sperm and eggs.

Michael Graziadei stars as Kyle Walker, the man whose sperm donation led to a lot of the embryos. He already has a 6-year-old son, a cute, little boy named Elvis. He's a single parent living in Pittsburgh. Because Elvis was one of the last children born on Earth, the fictional Department of Humanity sends social workers to take his parental rights away, so Kyle goes on the run with Elvis.

Athena Karkanis stars as Vanessa Keller, the Chief of Staff at the White House. Once President Westwood, played by Yul Vazquez, learns of the 100 embryos, his administration takes control of them. His White House deals with the consequences of having that responsibility, which includes attacks from other countries that are desperate for embryos.

There is an antsy nature and distrust from the American people as well, so Vanessa comes up with the idea for a lottery. The lottery is for women who wish to be the surrogate mothers for the embryos and give birth to the eventual babies, as well as possibly be the full-time mothers for those babies and raise them. The series thus far has been Vanessa, a strong black woman under a lot of pressure trying to balance and manage this lottery and its implementation.

The other main thrust of the series is following Dr. Lennon as she attempts to understand why the crisis is happening and if she can solve it. Her attempts reveal a grand conspiracy, one that seeks to have power over the unborn as well as the born.

Writer Timothy J. Sexton who is an Academy Award-nominee for co-writing Children of Men allows for diversions. For example, Episode 5 has Vanessa investigate a White House employee named Connor, played by Paul Fitzgerald, who is revealed to be gay and has a husband named Charlie. Episode 5 also opens the door for more characters to be explored while also closing the door possibly on characters without going to the extreme of killing them off.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14-LSV.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Sundays at 10PM on Lifetime.

TV Review - Vicious

Ian McKellan (left) and Derek Jacobi in "Vicious"
This British series originally aired last year on ITV. It was re-broadcast on PBS this summer. It's comprised of six episodes or six parts, plus a Christmas special. It stars Sir Ian McKellan and Derek Jacobi as an elderly, gay couple who has lived together for nearly 50 years.

Ian McKellan (Gods and Monsters and The Lord of the Rings) plays Freddie, an actor who is not doing so well in his career and who probably hasn't ever done well in the past 50 years but he keeps at it and he certainly talks a good game, always self-aggrandizing.

Derek Jacobi (Love Is the Devil and Hamlet) plays Stuart, a retiree and pensioner whose profession is not overtly stated. At the start of every episode, he's on the phone with his mother who doesn't know he's gay. He has an old dog named Balthazar who is unseen and often presumed dead as he lay covered in his bed in the kitchen.

Frances de la Tour (The History Boys and Hugo) plays Violet, the best friend of the two men who despite her age or perhaps because of it is very sexual. She won't resist hitting on younger men or even going online to pursue relationships that way. She's witty and often suave.

Iwan Rheon (Misfits and Game of Thrones) plays Ash, the new neighbor who is young and sexy and tickles the fancy of the three older characters. He's not too bright. He's very sweet and good-natured, but comes to care for all three. He's simply the lovable idiot to be a foil to Freddie and Stuart.

Aside from the particular dynamics that Violet and Ash bring, the bulk of the comedy comes from the insult humor lobbied back-and-forth between Freddie and Stuart. That insult humor is as the title of the series suggests. In fact, the insult humor is downright mean.

The trick by the end of the series is not to have the audience walking away wondering why these two are together. The two recognize that their insult humor is exactly that, and they aren't really trying to hurt each other. Their words are loud and over-the-top but their actions are even louder and even more over-the-top, and their actions demonstrate a love and respect.

That's always the undercurrent, but it's simply caked in this viciousness that some might call a brutal honesty that at old age most are afforded. It might not be proper but it's probably freeing.

Written by Gary Janetti (Will & Grace and Family Guy) and Mark Ravenhill, it's freeing for them to craft some clever lines. They're gut punches and low blows, but I think the makers of the show appropriately chose as the theme song "Never Can Say Goodbye," covered in a gay way by The Communards in 1987. Even though the full lyrics aren't heard, those lyrics in part encompass the spirit here.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14.
Running Time: 30 mins.
Available on PBS on Demand and DVD.

Monday, August 18, 2014

TV Review - I'm a Stripper (Episode 2)

Brendan Coates (left) and Gabriel Clark
both are the subjects of "I'm a Stripper (episode 2)"
Last year, actor-writer Charlie David directed a short documentary for television called I'm a Stripper: The Real Life Magic Men. He followed up with this sequel, which aired on Logo this summer. It works as a stand-alone episode but watching the first installment probably enriches watching this one. For example, some people in this episode are characters who appeared in the first. There's a title card or a context for them, but the breath of who those people are is lost if you haven't seen the first.

This episode centers on two male strippers, instead of three. This actually allows David to delve deeper into the two and allow us to get to know them better.

David includes interviews by Dr. Laurie Betito who is a sex therapist and radio DJ. She hosts a show that talks to various male strippers. David catches these talks as they were happening live on the air. In this case, Betito talks to Gabriel Clark, a 26-year-old Canadian male stripper who is bisexual and also a porn star.

David introduces us first to Brendan "Bronco" Coates who began stripping in 2006 after winning many male beauty and dancing contests. He loves hockey and does various other jobs, not necessarily for the extra money but also because at the age of 30 he considers quitting the stripping business.

This episode doesn't really reveal more about the stripping profession than the last episode. It certainly teaches more than Magic Mike (2012). We learn facts and statistics, for example, by way of titles that appear on screen during the interviews. In general, it continues the narrative that these guys who strip are not much more than desperately, attention-seeking narcissists.

What's interesting about this episode is that it includes an interview with Bronco's female friend BJ as well as Gabriel's father Lucas. BJ is interesting because she's brutally honest with saying how she's heterosexual but doesn't find male strippers attractive, and that goes double for Bronco, as well as how she thinks stripping in general is ridiculous. Gabriel's father is interesting because he turns out to be accepting of his son's profession and sexual orientation due to a very surprising reason.

Other than friends and family, the interviews of Gabriel himself are very enlightening. He disputes a lot of stereotypes about the world or worlds that he inhabits. Gabriel is bisexual. He dances for both straight women and gay men. He disputes the stereotype about what women and men want out of the stripping experience. He also disputes the stereotypes people have about bisexuality.

Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but for mature audiences.
Running Time: 41 mins.
Available on LOGOtv.com.

TV Review - Girl Meets World

Rowan Blanchard (left) and Sabrina Carpenter
play best friends in "Girl Meets World"
This Disney Channel series is essentially a sequel to the ABC series Boy Meets World (1993). The show picks up 14 years after the previous one ended. The two main characters from the previous one are imported here, so with them comes a lot of history, but this show seems to address that history superficially or only nostalgically. It feels as if none of the lessons learned in that previous show were brought along or even remembered. In fact, this series, even though it's taking place in 2014, feels like it's still happening in the 90's. The same if worse social dynamics are occurring.

Ben Savage returns as Cory Matthews, a public school teacher now in his mid 30's. Danielle Fishel returns as Topanga Matthews, a lawyer and Cory's wife. They're the two imported characters from the previous series. Cory is wacky but absolutely loving and is led by his passions. Topanga is quirky but smart and pragmatic. They're married, no longer in the Philadelphia area but now New York City with two children.

Created by Michael Jacobs and April Kelly, the show is copying the previous series but with the reversal of some of the sexes. The previous series focused on the friendship and eventual love life of a young boy. This show instead focuses on the friendship and love life of a young girl. This is in effect progressive, but the show had already been somewhat evolved. Yet, that momentum has been killed and a reset button has been hit, and the show has taken several steps backward in terms of its tone.

Rowan Blanchard stars as Riley Matthews, the 7th grade, teenage daughter of Cory and Topanga who is the true center here. She is the titular character who meets the world. She's very much her father's daughter but she's not as wacky as Cory is. However, Cory was not as wacky as he is now as he was when Boy Meets World first started. He got more ridiculous and over-the-top as time went on. He was probably closer to Fred Savage's character in The Wonder Years (1988). Fred Savage is Ben Savage's real-life older brother. Blanchard's character of Riley lies somewhere between.

Sabrina Carpenter co-stars as Maya Hart, the blonde, witty best friend of Riley. She's the equivalent of Shawn from the previous series who was Cory's best friend. Maya seems plagued with parental issues or lack thereof, much like Shawn. Her home life is addressed somewhat, but Maya's world revolves around Riley.

Corey Fogelmanis plays Farkle, the more literal equivalent to Stuart Minkus from the previous series. He's a lanky, geeky, puppy dog who crushes on both Riley and Maya. He's at best an annoying friend with constant romantic overtures toward them. He's basically another in a long line of characters like Screech from Saved By the Bell (1989).

Peyton Meyer plays Lucas Friar, the cute boy who is obviously the love interest for Riley. I would call him the equivalent to Topanga, but, in a rare case of reverse sexism, Lucas seems to exist as only the cute boy. He's there to look pretty and smile at Riley, so she can gush. Topanga back in the 90's was infused with a strong sense of independence and feminism and intelligence. Lucas is not the intelligent thinker that Topanga was. He's mostly eye-candy for Riley.

A lot of episodes hold the theme of friendship and not growing up too fast. The show is set in New York, but apparently Riley has no black friends or black people with whom she speaks, or Asian, or Latino. It's 2014, yet there are no gay people. This show is on Disney Channel, but it feels like it didn't come in the wake of High School Musical, which had a way more diverse cast.

The show handles drama reasonably well, but it's comedy often falls flat. One example is in Episode 3 when Riley is upset that another girl is flirting with Lucas. Cory is the teacher. He recognizes that Riley is upset but he doesn't recognize that Lucas and this other girl is having a quasi-romantic conversation in class. When silly stuff happens, he continues not to acknowledge it. Savage can be a good comedic actor, but having him in the scene but doing nothing was a waste. Sadly, Blanchard who plays his daughter is not as good a comedic actor, so a lot of her scenes are dry.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-G.
Running Time: 30 mins.
Fridays at 8:30PM on Disney Channel.

Friday, August 15, 2014

TV Review - Tyrant

Ashraf Barhom (left) and Adam Rayner
ask who is the tyrant in "Tyrant" on FX
The first two episodes are a bit rough, but, by Episode 3, I was into this series and wanted to see where it goes. I'm completely enthralled and not by the character with whom the show starts.

Adam Rayner stars as Barry Al-Fayeed, a pediatrician living in the United States but who was born in the fictional, Arab and Middle Eastern country called Abbudin. The country is an amalgamation of various Arab countries from Egypt to Syria, but it probably mostly approximates Iraq. Barry is the son of Abbudin's President, a man who definitely comes off as a Muammar Gaddafi or Saddam Hussein-type, but Barry is far from being anything like Hussein's real-life sons, at least on the surface Barry is totally Americanized. Barry isn't even his birth name, i.e. Alexander Siddig. He's secular, liberal and peace-loving.

Ashraf Barhom stars as Jamal Al-Fayeed, the older brother of Barry. Whereas Barry left to study medicine in America, Jamal stayed and was basically groomed to be his father's successor. In that respect, Jamal is more akin to Hussein's sons. He's secular, yet he's probably closer to Islam, but he's entitled, spoiled and arrogant.

What the first episode does well is distinguish the two brothers from each other in surprising ways. Barry is a sensitive and caring doctor. Jamal is a brutal and aggressive, potential dictator. Except, it's revealed that despite their dispositions, Barry is stronger than Jamal.

This is exemplified by Jamal being introduced as a rapist. He's not only a rapist, but a rapist of his daughter-in-law. In fact, he rapes her with her family listening in the next room under guard by whom might be considered Abbudin's Secret Service.

It's difficult for a character to come back from that, but the show tries. FX's The Shield was successful in starting a character in a bad position and then having that character come back in terms of having the audience accept or even care about that character. The key difference is that Vic Mackey on The Shield did a horrible thing as an extreme way of self-preservation or protection. Here, Jamal does a horrible thing, just to be cruel or domineering.

Creator Gideon Raff (Prisoners of War and Homeland) and the developing writer-producers Howard Gordon (The X-Files and 24) and Craig Wright (Six Feet Under and Brothers & Sisters) might not intend Jamal to last as long as Vic Mackey. Episode 6 suggests that they might try to back Jamal into a corner in order to eliminate him. Yet, from Episode 3 to Episode 6, Barry and Jamal's relationship stands as the most compelling thing about the series.

Eventually, their father dies and Jamal assumes the role of President. Barry is forced to stay and work for his brother's cabinet. Various issues arise, which mirror real-life issues that have been in the news out of the Middle East and Jamal always consults Barry for advice. The show becomes like an American, liberal fantasy where the leader of this Arab country is guided by American liberal ideas, which Barry represents.

It allows the writers to weave a narrative where the path and outcome of problems in an Arab country go the way peace-loving, liberal Americans would prefer. However, there are regularly meetings between the President and his cabinet where debates on these issues are had. The person who's always pushing back against Barry is his uncle, General Tariq Al-Fayeed, played by Raad Rawi. Tariq resists what Barry wants, which is to change Abbudin into a democratic nation. Tariq wants to maintain the merciless dictatorship.

This political tug-of-war is very compelling to watch. It's also interesting to watch Jamal struggle with the pressure of being president with all this responsibility that he perhaps wasn't ready to have, while also dealing with his brother's influence and his father's lack of influence, creating a need of love that always needs to be filled.

What the second episode gets wrong, which subsequent episodes don't really reconcile. Barry Al-Fayeed comes to Abbudin from America with his family. His wife is Molly, played by Jennifer Finnigan. His eldest child is his teenage son named Sammy, played by Noah Silver. His teenage daughter is Emma, played by Anne Winters. Barry's American family, particularly Molly, doesn't understand why Barry doesn't want to go see his Abbudin family.

I get that Molly is upset that Barry doesn't talk about Abbudin and what happened to him there. Yet, Molly has access to the Internet and clearly Barry is well-known because he's the son of a President. In Episode 4, Molly and her children reference a horrible incident that happened 20 years ago where the President of Abbudin launched a gas attack against his own people. The show opens with a bombing in Abbudin against the President.

All of which, Molly and her children could have read about on the Internet, so I don't get how Molly can't look at Barry and see how much he doesn't want to be there. I also didn't get how Molly isn't insisting everyday that they hop on a plane and leave.

The politics are basically just the rich versus the poor but set in a Middle Eastern milieu. All that, however, gets pushed to the side past Episode 6 when the focus shifts to Abbudin's first democratic election for President, which Barry organizes despite it threatening Jamal's power. This is an interesting and fantastic storyline, but it does push a lot of things to the side, and a lot of characters, namely Barry's American family.

Forget about Emma! She becomes less than an afterthought. Sammy is revealed to be gay and in love with his cousin's friend Abdul, played by Mehdi Dehbi. Yet, that gets dropped like a hot potato and three episodes go by without it being addressed or Sammy barely even being seen. Then, there's Molly who is having the same criticism as Skylar on Breaking Bad.

In that analogy, Rayner has the Walter White role, but Rayner isn't as magnetic as Bryan Cranston. The one with the true magnetism and whose performance I'm way more interested to see is Ashraf Barhom. He's sinister. He's sexy. Yet, he can be sweet and sensitive and like a lost little puppy dog. I'm horrified by him yet at the same time hooked.

The ensemble cast is great as well. Alice Krige plays Barry and Jamal's mother. She has to be wife of a dictator and balance the contradictions and conflicts within her family. Justin Kirk plays John Tucker, an agent with the State Department or else an ambassador who is the middle-man for Barry and Jamal and their relationship with the United States. Cameron Gharaee plays Jamal's son who at times is like Uday and Qusay Hussein wrapped into one, but who just wants to be with his wife and not disappoint his father. Alexander Karim plays Ihab Rashid, the son of the Sheikh who has been at odds with the Al-Fayeed family for years and who represents the youthful protest against the dictatorship. Fares Fares plays Fauzi, an old friend of Barry who calls him out on his hypocrisy.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-MA-LSV.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Tuesdays at 10PM on FX.

TV Review - Satisfaction

Stephanie Szostak (left) and Matt Passmore
in a scene from "Satisfaction" on USA
The first episode didn't have an opening credit sequence, but one that I imagined featured the Rolling Stones song "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Therefore, I wasn't surprised when the opening credit sequence in the second episode featured that same Rolling Stones ditty. I could have done without that credit sequence and that second episode. It's not to say the second episode wasn't good. It simply wasn't needed. Writer Sean Jablonski created a first episode that was long but so well-contained that not a single minute or moment more was required. The characters and world they inhabited were so incredibly crafted and translated on screen that it's darn-near perfect that additional episodes could only serve to bring it down. That and the prospects of what the show could be aren't all that appealing, and what it could be is another take, a slightly classier or perhaps slicker version of Showtime's Hung.

What would keep me coming back is the attractiveness of the cast. All of whom are great. The cast is led by Matt Passmore, who is very attractive, but not in the way that Tom Ellis is. Tom Ellis is the star of the TV series Rush, which is the companion show to this one on the USA cable network. Passmore is handsome for sure and is in great shape, but there is an awkwardness to him, a conservativeness that would prevent him from doing something outrageous or as risqué as being a gigolo or male prostitute.

Therefore, you can imagine his surprise when Passmore's character Neil Truman, a possibly upper 30's, mild-mannered financial manager, comes home to find his wife Grace Truman, played by Stephanie Szostak, in flagrante delicto with male prostitute Simon, played by Blair Redford. However, Neil doesn't say anything in that moment and in fact Grace never realizes that Neil saw her having sex with Simon, a gigolo who is significantly younger. Neil never makes it known to her, which works for the pilot episode and the episodes that follow, but is one of the reasons I think hurts the show moving forward.

Instead, Neil waits until Grace and Simon are done. When Simon is away from Grace and alone, that's when Neil jumps him. At first, he tries to fight Simon physically. When that doesn't work in a great comedic bit, Neil confronts Simon by berating him and then later by stealing his phone.

Of course, at first, Neil tries to be tough, but eventually he starts to wonder what it is about Simon that would make Grace go to him. Neil not only steals Simon's phone, he also steals his identity. Neils intercepts calls from potential female clients who haven't met Simon in person. Neil then pretends to be the gigolo that those female clients were recommended and Neil goes spelunking.

It's not just finding out his wife is having an affair with a hooker. Neil is motivated into becoming a hooker himself after things snowball for him at work. Neil works in finance, and while this has afforded a lot of money for a lot of materialistic possessions, spiritually he feels rather poor or lacking. He actually tries to quit his firm, but his boss Victor, played by Spencer Garrett, doesn't let him. Instead, Victor sends Neil to New York for a new client.

Neil reluctantly goes. That's when he gets stuck on an airplane with the worst flight attendant in history on a runway that refuses to let the plane take-off. In brilliant direction by Kevin Bray, we get a sense of Neil's building frustration until he explodes literally having a mental breakdown on the plane, as well as becoming a YouTube sensation.

The beauty about what Jablonski has written is that one assumes that this entire story will be told from Neil's point-of-view, but a third of the way through the episode if not quicker, the show rewinds and proceeds to tell the events leading up to Neil's breakdown, but reversely told from Grace's point-of-view. It's immediate that this show will be an even-handed depiction of this marriage.

Grace's story is not unlike that of the titular character of The Good Wife. She went to school for interior design and possibly architecture. She gave up pursuing a career in that field shortly after her marriage to Neil when she got pregnant with their daughter Anika, played by Michelle DeShon. Grace focused on being a mom, and now that Anika is a teenager not too far from leaving college, Grace is wanting to get back to her career.

She wants to share this with Neil and she tries but he was so obsessed and so focused on his career that she felt alone or lacking. Therefore, she turned to Simon. However, Neil's breakdown changed things and seeing his wife's affair changed him. Ironically, it put him on the path of being a better husband. In a very mature move, he wasn't necessarily angry at Grace or blamed her. He almost instantly jumped into introspection.

By the end of the first episode, Neil has done some soul-searching and learns some things that one assumes prepares him to repair his marriage to Grace. Grace herself might not be ready yet, and that's the sense with which Jablonski leaves us. The rest of the series seems more to get Grace ready to have the kind of satisfying sex with Neil that she has with Simon.

The problem is that the two are right there. The two just need to take one last step, which Jablonski purposefully denies in order to drag out this series. That last step is Neil telling Grace that he knows about her affair with Simon. Neil doesn't take that last step and he doesn't for the next four episodes which is all that I've seen. I think because he believes the show would be over, if Neil took that last step, and rightly so.

The next two episodes do a good job of extending the series, but both operate under the illusion that the characters learned nothing from the pilot, or Jablonski's resistance to have Neil take that last step with his wife. I'd prefer not to see Jablonski dance around the obvious last step, which Neil should just take. I'd also prefer not to see Jablonski continually move in the direction of making Neil a gigolo. I'm not interested in that unless Jablonski is going to do a real story about male prostitution. The show gets into that a little in Episode 3, when Neil looks into the finances of Simon and sees his life isn't all that glamorous. However, Jablonski should go further and explore how it's not so glamorous and how a lot of it is gay prostitution between young boys in desperate situations.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14-DLS.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Thursdays at 10PM on USA.