Tag Archives: TV series

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

Netflix
Creator: Jenji Kohan
Cast: (among others) Taylor Schilling, Danielle Brooks, Taryn Manning, Kate Mulgre, Uzo Aduba, Dascha Polanco, Laura Prepon
Setting: Litchfield Women’s Prison, New York State

The new season five of this show, now available on Netflix, is as unforgettable as any TV show I can name. The action takes place over only a few days as the unrest began last season among the prisoners turns into a full-scale riot. The outstanding character development, skillful writing, Emmy-level acting all carry the viewer along through moments of terror and moments of love.

Orange Is the New Black refuses to let us look away from the horror of our prison system, as many of us do every day, our heads in the sand only occasionally coming up to view what is happening to so many Americans. Orange shows us plainly what some humans have become and what others fight against becoming. It shows us honor, pain, leadership and inhumanity on many levels, for many reasons, some more understandable than others. It’s difficult to understand why one prisoner in bed with a badly damaged face in the infirmary would gleefully introduce air-bubbles into the injured guard’s IV, the guard that has been shot, the guard who has committed various atrocities and numerous indignities against prisoners. She seems unable to comprehend she is committing murder. It’s easier to identify with the energy so many in the prison feel at even a few moments of freedom.

For those of you who may watch this series or may want to give an episode or two a try, I’ll alert you to some of the acting performances considered stand-outs. Many of the characters explore their humanity and are changed by this experience. The actors are able to convey the struggle and the change. Selenis Leyva as Gloria Mendoza, always something of a leader, the woman who cooks for the entire prison population, tries valiantly to affect the situations with more strategies than one would think any one person could muster.

Perhaps you didn’t think Dascha Polanco as Dayanara who finds herself holding a gun in the opening episode had the acting chops to pull off an emotional scene later in the season that punctuates all of the drama. She delivers in one of the most unforgettable scenes of the series. Among the prisoners, it is Danielle Brooks as Taystee Jefferson who rises to the occasion, in order to uphold her beloved, but murdered Poussey. She is central to all the action and she becomes the person many viewers thought she could be. As always, Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman delivers a nuanced performance. And, Kate Mulgrew is heartbreaking in so many scenes. This viewer had counted on her to steer the rudder, but not so much.

There are many others I could name. You will see how each episode surprises as many characters grow and change. Others do not. This is a prison. Some characters harbor a good supply of brutality, as of course do most of the guards.

What struck this viewer about this season is the balance of horrific with the solace of love, love of many different kinds. But I would not use the term rollercoaster in speaking of the development of these different feelings and actions, rather a variety of self-discovery on the part of so many and at a multitude of levels.

There is no sugar-coating the situation or the outcomes or the inhumanity of some characters. There is no romantizing, only pain. But thank goodness, for many the discovery of love and what that requires in the place they find themselves is a central theme. Most heartwarming for this viewer, especially after so many flashbacks of family dysfunction over previous seasons, was the many mothers and other family members who stood outside the prison, hoping for a glimpse or at least news from their loved ones.

I would not have missed a single episode of such fine television. Time moves forward at an unknowable speed even when the action slows down. Many of the characters are embraceable even in their weak moments. Hats off to creator Jenji Kohan and her staff of writers. WOW!

CATCH SOME TV FUN

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The Mysteries of Laura
Network: NBC
Genre: Detective show with humor
Star: Debra Messing
Time slot: Wednesday at 8:00 p. m. EST

If you want to have TV fun on Wednesday night, if you want to relax and laugh, if you want to watch fresh network TV, may I suggest The Mysteries of Laura. Debra Messing is perfect as a slightly wacky police detective. She cracks cases and lives life with her own zany sense of style. There’s never a dull moment. The supporting cast is equally terrific!

The cast includes Ms. Messing, Josh Lucas, Laz Alonso, and Max Jenkins, all well-cast. The head writer and show runner is Jeff Rake. He adapted the show based on a Spanish series. Darn, I was hoping it was an original idea. Other writers credited are Beth Armogida, Bill Chais, Margaret Easley, Amanda Green Javier Holgado, Laura Putney, Gregorio Quintara, Blair Singer and Carlos Vila.

I love the dialogue and the humor. Most of all I love the small touches that give the show depth. Here is an example. Last week we saw a shot of Laura’s ex-husband on the couch reading The Spirited Child while babysitting their two boys who are portrayed as beyond spirited.

Some critics have been less enthusiastic, even highly negative about the show. But I give the program two thumbs up. I agree with the critic who called this show “a refreshing change of pace.” Among critics we are in the minority. I loved this show before I read a single review. I have watched the first three episodes with increasing enthusiasm. Check it out and see what you think, Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m EST on NBC.

On this blog I have the last word…..until you comment. I say it’s a show that delivers fun and appropriate stories for the early family hour. It may not be the only great show on network TV this fall (Madam Secretary is another), but it is the most fun.

Now it’s your turn to have the last word. Comment on this show or tell us about your new fall favorite..

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK: A BLOG BLITZ OF QUESTIONS

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The original television series Orange Is The New Black is available on Netflix, developed and written by Jenji Kohan based on the memoir by Piper Kerman of the same name. Classified as a dramedy, it features mostly female characters and is set in Litchfield Prison.

Mostly, or so it seems to me, this series raises questions. I’m wondering what you think?

1. Are you caught up in the “Orange” storm, or not?

2. Do you watch?

3. Have you watched all thirteen episodes?

4. What do you think?

5. Do you enjoy binge watching?

6. What surprised you most about Season 2?

7. Do you have a new favorite character this season?

8. Do you feel angry when you watch this show? If yes, where do you direct your anger?

9. Do you not stop to analyze, but just enjoy the action?

10. If you don’t watch, why don’t you?

11. About “Orange”, would you circle: awesome, unwatchable or just-not-interested?

12. Do you discuss “Orange” with your friends, family, anyone?

13. What do you expect from Season 3?

14. Do you most appreciate the excellence of the acting, writing, or the difficult issues the series attempts to deal with in a television series?

15. What about the male characters in the series? Are they given a fair portrayal?

16. If you have not watched this series, does the critical acclaim for Season 2 cause you to consider watching?

You are invited to comment as always. Answer these questions or ask your own. If you would like to write a blog (300-450 words) on this series, please contact me via Facebook or blog comment and I will send you my e-mail address so you can send me the copy. I will expect to post your guest blog.