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Midseason Premieres Round-Up

Kerry Washington, right, stars in the new ABC drama "Scandal."

So, I’ve been slacking, but staffing a magazine is a neverending job and when someone quits, I step in. We’re actually accepting summer interns, if anyone’s interested. This is our first summer! I hope to be so happy about it by the end that I start singing “Summer Nights” from “Grease” and actually hit that weird note John Travolta does in the end.

OK. I’ve been watching a lot of midseason premieres and I’ve kept my mouth shut. But now it’s time to open it a little. I’m not going to open wide and start spewing out the criticisms because I have to edit our stories for May, but I thought I’d pop in and predict the futures of some of these shows, with a little insight added.

Are You There, Chelsea? : I bet this looked really good on paper, but Laura Prepon was a terrible choice as a lead. She’s a background character actor; second to someone else’s polished fiddle. She should be playing the sister and Chelsea Handler should be somewhere with her feet propped up on all her money.
Prediction: No second season renewal

Napoleon Dynamite : I watched the film twice. The first time, I was angry for wasting my time on a film with no plot and the second time I was stuck on a coach bus with it. (I ended up falling asleep somewhere in the beginning.) I find the cartoon to be just as annoying as the film, but I feel bad for everyone in the town because cartoon teens never grow up. They’ll be stuck with these kids forever. At least Jon Heder’s getting work.
This will probably get at least three seasons and be watched by people who somehow think it’s funny. Then, it will live in cult classic infamy with the film.

Key & Peele : I’ve only seen two episodes, but this show was hilarious. It uses the live show/pre-recorded format popularized at Comedy Central by Dave Chapelle. But the show’s got a different dynamic, using two hosts and with a smaller crowd.
It’s been renewed for a second season. Unfortunately, I think it would get canceled halfway through the second season unless it can gain some serious buzz. Good news: the skits will definitely live on through YouTube forever.

Smash : NBC’s problem is usually that they don’t put enough work and preparation into a show before debuting it. Well, they did with this show and it’s a hit. I was worried it would be too much like Glee, but this show is for Broadway lovers who will occasionally dip their toe into the Top 40.
This will be on for at least four seasons, losing its way somewhere in the second season when they’ve gotten to big to fail.

Fashion Star : My wallet hates this show. It gets smaller after every episode. The clothes are good, the concept is great, but the execution is terrible. I’m not invested in any of the designers because I don’t know how they are. The editing is so bad and we get so little time to see the creative process that I don’t know who anyone is. I swear they slipped in a guy in this week because I’d never seen him before.
This will last until NBC gets tired of paying for it. And they will never improve the execution.

Scandal : There are no words to describe how much I love this show. All the TV elitists hate it, but I’m not a TV elitist. Just give me good characters, good acting and a novel concept. When you put Shonda Rhimes in the mix, I will automatically love it. Then, you give me Kerry Washington? This show was created with me in mind.
At least two seasons. If people stand behind it like they should, it’ll be on for five, but I can’t see Washington putting in seven seasons of work on TV when she could easily get film roles.

Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23 : I love shows like Dexter and films like American Psycho, where you go into the mind of sociopaths. I never thought about a female sociopath, and definitely didn’t she’d be featured in a comedy about roommates. But this show works. Probably because Krysten Ritter is perfect for the role.
Three seasons before America gets tired of it and the network kicks it the curb.

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Being A Colored Woman As A ‘Metaphysical Dilemma’ in ‘For Colored Girls’


The cast of "For Colored Girls"

They laughed at their sorrows.

Women in the theater, that is. They laughed, as the women on the screen cried. I’ll save my deeper thoughts on why for my self-esteem blog, but I think it had something to do with the deep nature of this film.

Unlike a lot of other African American films, this one digs deep to identify struggles the characters face and to reconcile them without slapstick comedy.

For Colored Girls, based on Ntozake Shange’s celebrated choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, portrays the “metaphysical dilemma” of being a colored woman. Tyler Perry, who directed the film, weaves a storyline through the poems told by characters connected through experiences at a fifth floor walk-up that’s home to three of the characters. These women are all distinct, interchangeable in some of their best and worst experiences but not in the person they became as a result.

There are eight women, all based on archetypes, but too complicated to completely fill an archetypal role: Tangie (Thandie Newton), Joanna (Janet Jackson), Crystal (Kimberly Elise), Kelly (Kerry Washington), Alice (Whoopi Goldberg), Gilda (Phylicia Rashad), Juanita (Loretta Divine), Yasmine (Anika Noni Rose) and Nyla (Tessa Thompson). Their stories are ones of hope, love, pain, abortion, rape, incest and strength.

The performances were all as close to perfect as I’ve ever seen an a film. The transformations these women went through during their struggles were astonishing. The pacing was perfect. Every line was delivered with honesty and pain. It’s impossible to watch it with understanding and not get wrapped in the emotion.

I think that’s was where the women in the theater got lost. They didn’t understand that a character talking about bones crushed like an ice cream cone was a metaphor for abortion, not a longing for a cold snack.

It’s not easy to understand the script. Shange didn’t write the choreopoems to be literal. It’s a metaphor for the lives of colored women. If you’re not ready to think (I went at midnight, so I doubt most of the people in the theater were able to think a lot at that hour), don’t go see this film. It’s not for someone who doesn’t want to go deep into the lines and into themselves.

Every woman in the film gave one of the best performances of their careers, but I can’t forget Michael Ealy in this review. He played Crystal’s boyfriend, an Iraq war veteran with a drinking problem and a strong case of PTSD. Ealy, usually handsome and debonaire, stripped the charm for his role. There was so much depth to the character. The last male performance I saw done so well was Will Smith in Seven Pounds, but his character was more in control of his personal demons.

I laughed (when the moments were funny, of course), I cried, I got the chills and one moment had me shaking for about five minutes. For Colored Girls is not only powerful in its execution and amazingly written lines, it’s also empowering.

I don’t want to get too specific with this review because, like the choreopoem, it has to be heard. Reading something about the script or even the script itself is moot. Listening is the only way to truly understand it. Shange’s lines are so deep and can be defined in so many ways, that hearing the words always means something new.

If you’re in the mood for a film that will increase your intelligence and self-awareness, you must see it.

By the way, this blog got 817 profile views last month. I am glad to have so many people who seem to care about my opinions on popular culture. Thanks for the support!

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