Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Raising The Bar “Trust Me” One Trust Broken, Another Gained

Last night’s episode of ”Raising The Bar” (TNT) “Trust Me” involves many forms of trust – trust of the word of a defendant or the police, the trust between colleague, and a big fat trust fund.

Public defender Bobbi Gilardi (Natalia Cigliuti ) – likely still reeling from the suicide of her husband that she was in the process of divorcing – throws herself into the case of Andre Jackman (Eugene Byrd) who was arrested for dealing drugs. The problem is, Jackman’s case is tied to another man who was arrested with him, and Jackman fears if he turns on his partner, Slice, he will end up dead. But Bobbi seems to have trouble with her client, as it seems his story morphs every time the situation warrants. Jackman seems to be looking for any excuse to get off, and refuses a plea deal because he is afraid if it comes out he had been a confidential informant in the past, he’ll be dead. Jackman also claims that the police set him up because he refused to go back to being a snitch, which he signed on for 10 years prior. Bobbi’s opponent is the competitive and aggressive prosecutor Michelle Earnhardt (Melissa Sagemiller), who is constantly trying to prove herself to her boss, the smarmy Nick Balco (Currie Graham). Michelle takes a group pep talk that Nick gives very seriously, and she is determined to win this case.

While Bobbi works to find facts she can use to support her client’s claims, Michelle works even harder to build her own case. When Bobbi feels she has the advantage when she gets Jackman’s case severed from his partner in crime, Michelle uses that to her advantage, getting Slice to take a deal in order to flip on Jackman. She times the process so she purposely won’t have the time to notify Michelle until right before she calls Slice as a witness. Things go downhill from here, as Michelle pays to have the police officer who signed Jackman’s confidential informant agreement 10 years ago up to testify, and he paints Jackman as someone who is unreliable and less than truthful. Meanwhile, Jerry Kellerman (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) had tried to help Bobbi with her case, by talking with Jackman without her knowledge and getting a tidbit of information, which he relays to Bobbi just as she is going in to the courtroom. Later, after Jackman is found guilty, she rips Jerry for talking with Jackman behind her back and feeding her the information without enough time for her to prepare herself for Jackman’s testimony. Bobbi seems to think that Jerry does not trust her, and she says she can’t trust him if he continues to go behind her back. She also ties in to Jerry for his behavior, indicating that Jerry thinks that only he can save the day all the time. Jerry finally apologizes, but I sense that things between him and Bobbi have definitely cooled off in more ways than one. If her husband hanging himself in her home wasn’t enough to put a crimp in her relationship with Jerry, his meddling certainly is.

The other case in this episode involves public defender Richard Woolsley (Teddy Sears). He is having lunch at the Woolsley club with Rex, who seems to be his financial advisor. It seems that Teddy had recently come into possession of a $3 million trust fund payment from his father, and Rex is annoyed that Richard has the money simply sitting in a checking account. Richard says he will look at Rex’s proposals and make his own decisions, and Rex seems impressed with this response.

When a former client of Richard’s, Camile de la Paz (Ivet Corveaz) complains to him that she is being sued for $1,500 in damages for shoplifting $6 worth of batteries – a charge for which she has already served her time – Richard decides to get involved. Camille tells Richard that having to pay this money will mean she can’t afford her rent, and she will be out on the street. When Ros (Gloria Reuben) won’t give Richard any help from their civil lawyers, Richard realizes that his father’s name and money has some clout. He calls the office of Jefferson Cox (Stephen Markle), the man heading the firm who is suing the woman and asks to meet him at the Woolsley club. But Cox thinks he is there to meet Richard’s father, not Richard, and he gets very pissy when Richard tries to twist his arm to drop the case. Richard gets wise later, though, when he decides to fight fire with fire, and threatens Cox with a lawsuit of his own which would drag the firm’s name into the public eye in a very negative manner. Cox drops the case, but threatens Richard if he tries this again he will find himself in a battle.

The experience, however, helps Richard to decide what to do with his $3 million. He writes a check for all of it and hands it to Ros, telling her to use it to hire more civil attorneys to help people like Camille have a fighting chance against battling these big law firms against these ridiculous lawsuits. Even after she gives him the option to rethink his position, Richard stands firm as he doesn’t need the money right now and will get more in 5 years anyway. Clearly, Richard is not totally comfortable with all this money; maybe it is more about the fact that it is from his father.

What I am beginning to enjoy about ”Raising The Bar” (TNT) is that the outcome of each case isn’t always obvious. Unlike many of the other crime/drama shows on television where it seems like the “good guys” - law enforcement, crime scene people, etc. – always win, ”Raising The Bar” (TNT) covers both sides of the fence equally well. You never know if the prosecution or the defense will get a win, and this makes the show more suspenseful all the way to the end. And unlike the Law & Order franchise, this law drama allows people a glimpse into the real lives of the main characters in a way that it is believable and comfortable. The characters are developing very clear personalities, to the point that when they step out of their persona it seems very real. For example, the smarmy Nick Balco (I can’t write his name without the including the word smarmy) does something unexpected when he gives some sincere praise to Michelle for winning her case, and the moment seemed genuine. (But he’s still smarmy.)

I didn’t think I would ever say this about this show after watching its premier last season, but I actually now look forward to the show and it is becoming one of my favorite dramas. They truly have “raised the bar” for legal dramas.

Clip from Raising the Bar: Trust Me

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Closer “Strike Three”: Women Behaving Badly

Last night’s episode of ”The Closer” (TNT) “Strike Three” involves a case of the murder of two police officers in the line of duty, plus the death of a civilian at the same scene. It seems that the police officers were led into an ambush, and one of the people involved was killed when the police returned fire. But this episode was more about women behaving badly, and it annoyed me somewhat that two women in positions of power can only be portrayed as controlling and bitchy (not necessarily in that order).

Sparks fly immediately when a turf war between Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) and Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) from the Force Investigations Division flares up. Brenda is claiming the scene is hers as two policemen were killed, and Raydor says that she needs to investigate the killing of the civilian to make sure that the police used deadly force appropriately. Ultimately Chief Will Pope (J.K. Simmons) rules that it is Brenda’s scene but that Raydor can shadow, and it’s obvious Raydor isn’t happy with that role.

While Brenda’s team works the case – with a brief and frankly worthless appearance of her husband and Agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney), Raydor manages to get her hands on all the evidence and removes it from the Major Crimes squad. Brenda is apoplectic over this and a tug of war begins between her and Raydor, with Pope mediating. Of course, he isn’t pleased either that Raydor ignored his instructions and orders her to give everything back to Major Crimes. She reluctantly does so, and gives them information that her team already found out about a piece of red taillight that was left at the scene. Information about this taillight comes in handy when someone calls in who may unknowingly have the car that was involved in the shooting, and it subsequently nets two suspects, which they arrest.

The episode is basically a back and forth between Brenda and Raydor, with Brenda using every chance to make Raydor out to be a controlling bitch, and Raydor making Brenda out to be, well, also a controlling bitch but one who is clueless about the importance of what Raydor is trying to do to protect the force from a civil suit. Raydor does show that she knows what she is doing when she insists she question a suspect before Brenda, as the suspect was asking for medical assistance as a result of the arrest, which automatically triggers a use of force investigation by Raydor. Brenda is not thrilled over this but she must comply. Raydor coolly reads the suspect his rights, and while Pope thinks this now will prevent them from getting any information from the suspect, Brenda now thinks this can work to their advantage. When the suspect gets annoyed at Raydor, he yells, “eat me” to Raydor, and he gets upset when she coyly asks him to clarify what he means. When he bangs his head hard on the table twice, she’s happy, because now she can photograph his self inflicted injuries, which seem to mask his impending black eye from the arrest.

When Brenda goes to the second suspect and reads him his rights, he lawyers up. But Brenda tells Raydor this is OK and she will take them home, where they will confess. As Raydor tags along, we find that Major Crimes has rigged a police car with a camera and audio to monitor the suspects in the back seat of the car. While the team searches the house before they let the suspects out of the car, Brenda tells one of the suspects not to forget what they talked about. Of course he had said nothing, but the other suspect becomes suspicious and they begin to argue. In doing so they unwittingly give clues to where the guns used in the shooting – plus some drugs – were located, underneath an outdoor planter.

Later, Brenda and her team, dressed in full uniform to attend the funeral of the police officers, hear a pep talk from Chief Pope. Raydor, also in uniform, stops Brenda in the hall. Brenda states the situation, saying that when officers are killed in the line of duty, Brenda’s team investigates, but when they fire back, Raydor does. Brenda expresses concern that knowing they'll be investigated might stop officers from defending themselves, and asks Raydor if she ever wonders what her principles cost. Raydor gives a terse reply that she does: $70 million, the cost in the Rampart case, not to mention cases overturned and trust lost. Brenda says, "There has to be a better way" and Raydor responds, "Until then, you've got me." An uneasy truce, for sure. As they leave for the funeral in their dress uniforms, the flags fly at half-mast.

Who did I side with in this episode – Brenda or Raydor? I have to admit that I was more on Raydor’s side. Considering the problems that have occurred with the (real) LAPD in recent history with questions of the use of excessive force with police, I can completely understand why Raydor would want to be sure that the police were right to shoot back. I also think that Brenda was wrong to jump to quick conclusions about the dead civilian. It doesn’t matter that it turned out that the man had involvement in the ambush and the shooting of the police. It could have easily turned out another way. In the real world, I would like to think that the LAPD and all of their other law enforcement agencies would know how to share jurisdiction in a case such as this. In the same vein, I would like to think that in the real world, women in such high positions would not be so pissy at each other during such times. OK, I’ve seen people like Brenda and Raydor in my own career, but I wasn’t in law enforcement and never dealt with matters like murder and crime scenes.

In this episode, Brenda came off as a petulant child who must get her way all the time. I actually found her annoying. Her inability to work with colleagues without inciting conflict is turning out to be a detriment. Sure, she is very skilled at what she does, but there are others out there who are likely skilled in what they do as well, and Brenda needs to give them the proper respect. It may be time that Brenda show a little growth as a person and learn how to collaborate. I don’t expect a humble Brenda, just one who can learn to play nice with others.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

The 2009 Emmy Nomination Snubs

Last year about this time, I was moaning about the problem with the Emmys and all the people or shows that they snubbed for an Emmy nomination. Here we are, a year later, and I’m still moaning about it because they’ve snubbed many of them again.

Last year, Battlestar Galactica got snubbed, as did Mary McDonnell, who played President Roslin. Well, despite the fact that the series finished with such a dramatic ending and their final season had some of the best acting ever in the entire sci-fi genre, the series received no dramatic or acting honors. While they had an excellent cast overall, it is simply criminal that Mary McDonnell was overlooked and someone like Mariska Hargitay was included. Let’s be honest here, Mariska’s role of Olivia Benson has run its dramatic course, and her performances this past season seemed reduced to scenes that screamed “for your consideration.” In defense of Mariska, there isn’t a whole lot a person can do to make Dick Wolf’s Law & Order franchise world very compelling for actors. After all, with some of Sam Waterston’s best years as Jack McCoy going virtually unnoticed (he was nominated a few times, never won), it's safe to say that no one in this franchise will ever win an Emmy. (OK Academy voters, make a liar out of me.) Mary McDonnell’s performance in the final episodes of Battlestar Galactic was gripping and virtually ripped my heart out. Also robbed of a nomination was Katee Sackhoff for her performance on BSG as Kara “Starbuck” Thrace. And the series itself went from the doldrums of their middle seasons to being one of the most interesting sci-fi stories ever told. It is just inconcievable that this series could have been so overlooked.


New to my Emmy snub list is Kiefer Sutherland, who got ignored this year, except for a nomination for “24: Redemption” which was in the movie/miniseries category. This was 2-hour a show that I thought wasn’t all that good, and not anywhere near his great performance for the full season itself. Yet, Simon Baker gets nominated for his bland performance as Patrick Jane on “The Mentalist,” a role that is one-dimensional and, in my opinion, requires little acting range. Maybe the Academy was angry that Jack Bauer wasn’t protecting Los Angeles this past season?


Another repeat offender on the snubbed list is Robert Sean Leonard, who plays Dr. James Wilson on Fox’s “House.” Let's tell it like it is: there would be no House without Wilson. Leonard plays the perfect confidant, conscience, and whipping boy to House, and he does it so naturally that one forgets that the two are acting. Sure, he has great lines written for him and…oh wait, even the writers for “House” were snubbed. Diagnosis: The Academy of Television Arts & Science are all brain dead.

So, another year, another Emmy rant. I think the only thing that will solve this problem is if the Academy makes a move similar to what the Oscars have done and increase the number of nominees in key categories. With so many shows – primarily dramas - on television these days, it’s a shame that the limit the nominees to only about 6 people in a category. I don’t believe that raising the number of nominees to 10 would in any way dilute the honor, nor would it dilute the importance of the winner, since you can still have only one.

Another thing that hasn’t changed is my opinion of the Academy from last year, where I said “The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences are becoming less relevant to the viewing public, since they rarely represent what viewers think is the best television. For what it's worth, for those I mentioned above that were not nominated, there are many viewers out there who appreciate your efforts and our award to you is continuing to watch your shows.” It’s no gold statue, but I hope it has value to those that were snubbed this year.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Closer “Tapped Out” Full of Comedy

Photo from TNT

Monday night’s episode of ”The Closer” (TNT) titled “Tapped Out” was one of those episodes that was light on the drama and heavy on the comedy. “The Closer” can easily pull off both heavy drama and comedy from week to week without viewers feeling whiplash. Since my television viewing is heavily slanted toward crime shows, it’s nice to get an episode every now and then that takes a walk on the wild side and focuses on the funny rather than on the crime itself. I personally was highly amused in seeing the usual high-and-mighty Chief Pope get suckered in and be made a fool of by an amateur.

The episode begins with Lt. Flynn (Tony Denison) and Lt. Provenza (G.W. Bailey) sitting down to a breakfast, purposefully oblivious to a crime scene unfolding right outside the restaurant window. Flynn is more interested in Provenza’s change in diet and lifestyle; Provenza is all too happy to tell Flynn about the woman in his life and all the ways she is making him very happy. When Asst. Police Chief Will Pope (J.K. Simmons) arrives to work with the detectives for the day as "one of the guys,” he is a little annoyed that the lieutenants have no interest in the crime scene unfolding right outside. Provenza helps to solve Pope’s distraction by closing the blinds. But Pope decides to take matters into his own hands, and after a lecture to the detectives, heads over to the crime scene next door.

When Pope gets to the scene of a murder in a parking area, another detective from the central division is already there and seems to have everything under control. He introduces himself to Pope as Detective Richard Tracy, a new transfer to central division. Flynn and Provenza arrive on the scene, with Provenza still feasting on half a cantaloupe. Tracy outlines the crime and already has the evidence collected, and impresses Pope by reciting Pope’s mission statement. Pope, impressed, has no problem with handing back all the evidence to Tracy, who gets their business cards and drives off. But when a shrieking woman shows up at the crime scene, they are forced to get involved.

Back at Major Crimes, the team is being deafened by this woman – Marie - who continues to shriek. Pope asks Sgt. David Gabriel (Corey Reynolds) why he wasn’t at the scene, and Gabriel informs him they never got a call. Meanwhile, Marie continues her shrieking, but they are able to find out from her that the murder victim was Mark Bernstein, also known as “Intrigue.” But when Marie gets concerned that she is being considered as a suspect, her shrieking gets so loud that it drives Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) out of her mind and out of the interrogation room. She then finds that the evidence hasn’t been logged in yet. Sanchez (Raymond Cruz), upon hearing the name “Intrigue” knows of him, he’s the "Hook-Up King" who created “The Intrigue Technique” - a way to pick up women. Meanwhile, Pope is on the phone trying to track down the evidence, and gets concerned when no one knows who Detective Richard Tracy happens to be. Brenda, upon hearing the name, makes Pope realize, to his dismay, that he had given all the evidence to a detective “ Dick Tracy.” Pope terminates his call and says, "OK, now, this is definitely a major crime."

After much ribbing to Pope, they continue to work the case, but find that “Dick Tracy” is one step ahead of them. And to their continued dismay, he is using the business cards he got from Pope, Provenza, and Flynn to pass himself off as the others and gain access to the victim’s family and apartment, taking even more evidence.

They spend some time talking to Intrigue’s brother, and also Jill, a cable network executive, who tells them they had been going over plans for the episodes for Intrigue’s TV cable show based on his technique. They also find that Intrigue was with Marie the night before, but they have been unable to reach her by phone (of course, she’s at Major Crimes).

But “Tracy” meets his match when they realize that he is using a web site, set up to highlight Pope’s work and the department activities, to work the case. They set him up so he will head to Marie’s place, and when he shows up, identifying himself as Flynn, they arrest him. Of course “Tracy” protests because he says he’s working for law enforcement.

The remainder of the episode involves Brenda trying to get “Tracy” – who they now know as Jonathan Baird and who had been turned down for the force because he failed the psychological portion of testing – to help them interpret the evidence. It seems all his notes are in code, and he put a password on the computer that he took from Intrigue’s place. They even allow him to write out all the information he has on the big white board and run through the scenario with them, barely tolerating his shouting at them. He does help Tao (Michael Paul Chan) when he tells him that even though he can’t get into the computer without his password, he should have checked the computer’s DVD drive. The drive contains some of the recordings for Intrigue’s series and how he picks up women, where Intrigue is stating, “She got tapped.” This seems to disgust everyone but Sanchez, who is clearly a student of Intrigue’s teachings. After watching one woman be humiliated in one of the eight episodes filmed, Brenda asks "He did this to eight women and he only got shot once?"

In order to get the password for the computer, Brenda tries to make Baird think that they will make him one of the squad, but he figures out their deception quickly. As they take him away, Baird yells for his union rep.

Gabriel gets the eight women from the Tapped taping. Brenda explains that she wants four in each room and she tells him to add Marie to the line up but only when she cues him to do so. Meanwhile, Brenda tries one more time to get the computer password from Baird, and when she is unsuccessful, she has to enlist a little help from Pope. Pope is concerned about how this will all play out, considering it’s his fault this guy even got involved, and he’s screwed no matter what happens. But Brenda says maybe not – and asks for his help. She uses Pope as the “good cop” to her “bad cop”, allowing Pope to feed on Baird’s ego and delusions. He manages to get Baird to give up the password – “Crimestoppers.” When they get access to the computer, they find the results of the focus group for the show.

They get Jill, the cable executive, into one of the interrogation rooms where the women for the show were being held, and also Marie. When a witness to the crime, who is watching all the action in interrogation on the monitor, picks out Jill as the person she saw with Intrigue, it’s all over but the shouting. It seems Jill wasn’t happy with the focus group results – which were overwhelmingly bad. She tells them that when they signed Intrigue they though he had a likable vulnerability, but when they got him on camera, he was more of a psychopath. She told him to change his style, but he wasn’t interested, and with him web business getting better all the time, he would still be in great shape even if the show never came to be. Jill, on the other hand, felt she would be ruined and she killed him because he used her.

Later, Brenda convinces Baird to write a full report, which she plans on using against him. For example, when he wrote that he "served a warrant," it will mean he "forged legal documents;" when he went into the victim's apartment it would translate to trespassing; when he removed evidence would become theft. She says when he signs it, it will be his confession.

Brenda later stops in Pope's office, where he's reading Flynn and Provenza's report of the events which seemed to be scrubbed of Pope’s mishap. Brenda tells him that the DA found the victim despicable and agreed to a plea, so Pope’s error will not be revealed. He is concerned what the team will think of him if he lies in his report, and Brenda tells him they'll think he's one of the guys - they lie to him all the time, and that’s the one thing that unites every division of the LAPD. With a wink, she says "Nighty-night, crime stopper."

Wasted in the episode, again, is FBI Special Agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney) who Pope asks to get involved in the issue with Baird, but who really seems to serve no purpose except to give Brenda a kiss in the squad room. Such a waste of a character.

“The Closer” has the right mix of drama and light moments, but most of all, it has a great cast. Every character seems very well defined, which makes the major Crimes group seem more like real people solving real crimes. In fact, this may be the best ensemble cast on television these days. Hopefully the Emmys will give them the recognition they truly deserve.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Ice Road Truckers: Cool Summer Viewing

Photos from History.com
I’m not big into “reality” competition shows. However, there is one show that is based in reality, has somewhat of a competition, but the star of the show is not just the people in it, it’s the ice road far north in Canada and Alaska. The series is called ”Ice Road Truckers (History) and it is interesting, edge-of-your-seat television.

The premise of the show may sound rather dull – drivers navigate the ice roads of the north in order to deliver supplies to those that work in the frozen tundra, in places like gas drilling sites and oil fields. Personally, I don’t like driving on Ohio roads in my 4 wheel drive car when we get a few inches of snow, so I didn’t think I would enjoy watching a bunch of truck drivers navigate icy roads for a living. But when I began watching the show mid-season in season two, I was surprised that I quickly became hooked. There was something about watching these guys barrel down roads made of nothing but ice cracking underneath them, separating them from water, that was compelling. Equally compelling was watching some of the drivers – like Rick Yemm – self-destruct their careers in the process, or Alex Debogorski, who had to cut his driving season short due to health reasons. It seems that each driver had just a little bit of crazy in them, after all, a person just can’t have all their faculties if they want to drive in such hospitable conditions – can they?

In season three, the show has moved from the ice roads of Canada to Alaska Route 11, also known as the Dalton Highway. This 500 mile stretch of road is the major connector between Fairbanks and the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. There seems to be much more danger than on the “simple” ice roads, as these drives have to contend with avalanches, white outs and blizzard conditions, not to mention steep grades and tight turns. The hazards are great and death lurks around every corner. Carlisle Transportation is the company responsible for the hauling of freight to Prudhoe Bay, and the drivers can earn some big money hauling these loads, the bigger and heavier the better. Two of the Canadian drivers from season one and two – Alex Debogorski (who is now recovered from his health problem) and Hugh Rowland – have decided to try their hand at the Dalton. Both find themselves somewhat humbled, yet somewhat annoyed, when they have to prove themselves on this new road, including having to go through a simulator in order to show they have the skills to tackle the tough roads. In both cases, they have difficulties.

The show adds a new twist this season with the addition of a woman behind the wheel, Lisa Kelly, who knows she has to pull her weight, figuratively and literally, in order to keep up with the "boys". She’s a bit of a risk taker, and I find myself hoping that she doesn’t bite off more than she can chew.

The same goes for Canadian transplants Hugh and Alex, who don’t seem to have complete respect for The Dalton quite yet. These two seem to be rather easy going but there is something slightly crazy about them – they both have a laugh that sounds like driving in the cold has made them just a little nutty. In a strange way, it is highly entertaining.

The star of the show – The Dalton – is an amazing twisting, turning, and hilly road, which goes through some beautiful, yet deadly dangerous terrain. This is what brings such tension to the show – one never knows what conditions the drivers will have to face. Personally, I can’t fathom why anyone would want to drive in conditions such as this, and this may be the thing that actually draws me to the show.

Despite the fact that the premise of each episode is the same – driver gets a load to haul, driver has a problem with weather/their truck/their load, driver forges on – it’s still very interesting to see how they go about their work and how different they are in their work habits. I am sure many people never think about how vital these truckers are in order to support everyone’s need for fuel such as natural gas and oil, and what risks these drivers take with each delivery. But ”Ice Road Truckers" is more than just a show about truck drivers. It’s an education about how industry must operate in some of the world’s most inhospitable climates, and how to what lengths some people will go in order to earn a living. It’s an action packed hour that goes by quickly. If you are feeling the heat in your job, watch an episode of Ice Road Truckers, you may appreciate your career choice all the more.

Ice Road Truckers, Season 3 Episode 5 Highlights

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Friday, July 3, 2009

The Philanthropist: Dull, Preachy, Trite

All Photos from NBC
I decided to watch ”The Philanthropist”because Jesse L. Martin, probably most well known to TV viewers from his work on Law & Order, had a starring role. The premise of the show – about a wealthy businessman turned philanthropist – sounded hopeful.

After watching two episodes, I have decided to take the show off my watch list. The first episode was somewhat flat and uninspiring, with the cast having zero chemistry. Martin, who plays the business partner and good friend of the show’s main character, Teddy Rist (James Purefoy), seemed stiff and his character one dimensional. (My husband even commented, “I think Martin made a poor move joining this show.”) Purefoy isn't much better, although he was given more chances with more action scenes, seemingly attempting to be a philanthropist’s version of James Bond. Sadly, his efforts are wasted as the episode became mired in peachiness. I decided to give the first episode a pass, and wait to review the show until the second episode.

The second episode, titled “Myanmar” was even worse. In this episode, the Maidstone-Rist firm is exposed in a press conference as having ties, through business interests in China, to businesses in Myanmar, (formerly known as Burma) where forced labor is used in many places. Teddy decides to help the company clear their name, and for some reason which I didn’t quite understand, Teddy has to get advice from Daw May Lin Wai, a Burmese democratic leader who has been under house arrest in the country almost 20 years. He has to break through security to get through to her, using his “bodyguard” to help create distractions, which of course pulls away all the guards. (As you know, all security guards in television are idiots and easily pulled away from their posts.) Teddy sprints inside, Daw May gives him a “do the right thing” speech, and he manages to escape by running through the back streets, which oddly seemed to be unguarded and what may have been a much easier way in. Of course, Teddy likely thinks he won’t stand out, being the only man in town wearing a suit – a white suit at that.

During his stay, he also meets up with a young girl who needs a kidney transplant, and who happens to have an attractive female doctor. Teddy decides to help get the girl’s father who is supposed to be a donor, but he is being held as a laborer in a ruby mine. Teddy uses his money - and other people - in order to get the girl’s father out, and the transplant is performed in what looks like a hospital that to me doesn’t look to even remotely have the skills and equipment to perform such a surgery.

While all this is going on, Philip Maidstone (Jesse L. Martin) is chairing a board meeting, and one member wants to oust Rist. The whole episode covers Philip telling Teddy’s Myanmar story - with repeated voice over scenes – to try to convince the board to keep Teddy. I always say that if a show needs voice over scene to help the viewers understand things, the show is either too complicated or too boring. In this case, I think boring fits better.

Let’s not forget that Teddy’s efforts to clear the company name gets put by the wayside when he agrees to give the Chinese company even MORE business in order to curry favor with the Myanmar people to help get the girl’s father and his bodyguard and the girl’s father out of jail. So, in order to save one person, Teddy compromised his entire company and possibly enabled even more oppression for the people of Myanmar. Yeah, that was a really bright move. Personally, after Philip told Teddy's story, I heard nothing in it that would make me want to keep Teddy, yet the board allows him to stay on. Go figure.

The show is heavy in the preachiness, trying too hard to prove a point about how bad things are in other countries. Of course Teddy is the only one who seems to “get it”, and it’s all because his son is dead. I am not quite sure how his son died – maybe I dozed off during that part – but I suppose that the show needed some excuse for Teddy to have this sudden desire to save the world. It’s a trite plot device.

So, in my desperation to find new shows to watch in the summer, I am not that desperate that I will continue to watch “The Philanthropist.”

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