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Juice cleanse: Theo Rossi says Sons of Anarchy will quench everyone’s thirst

- September 5th, 2014

 

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It’s the irony of anarchy.

Loyalty is the one thing the characters on Sons of Anarchy value most. Yet it’s loyalty that is in the shortest supply.

“That’s so true,” said Theo Rossi with a big laugh. “It’s the one thing they talk about the most.

“And when you think about it, Juice (Rossi’s character) probably is the most loyal of any of them, because he’ll do anything for anybody. He’s the most loyal. Isn’t that weird?”

It is weird. But then, Sons of Anarchy always has been weird, in a good way, a complex way, a terrifying way. And with the seventh and final season of Sons of Anarchy debuting Tuesday, Sept. 9 on Super Channel in Canada and on network-of-origin FX in the United States, Rossi’s Juice Ortiz literally is at the centre of it all.

“In the first episode of this new season, we start to see the full-blown unraveling for Juice,” Rossi said. “Well, it has been unraveling already, and now he’s just trying to get a hold of it.”

If you’re not caught up on Sons of Anarchy, which tells the story of an outlaw motorcycle gang in California, and you don’t want to know anything at all about the sixth-season finale that aired last December, consider this a SPOILER ALERT. But if you are caught up, you know that Juice and Gemma (Katey Sagal) share a big secret.

“What Kurt (Sutter, Sons of Anarchy creator) really has done so masterfully is, he has taken these two characters, Gemma and Juice, and they have to have this relationship now,” Rossi said. “You talk about sleeping with one eye open? These are two people who are forced to be together because they know something that is the greatest secret ever created in this charming world.

“Juice and Gemma know something that can so completely affect our hero (Jax, played by Charlie Hunnam). But how can they ever trust each other, knowing what they both have done, or what they’ll both do? They’re both survivors. Their only goal every minute is survival.

“Juice doesn’t think about tomorrow. Juice doesn’t think about dinner later tonight. Juice doesn’t think about watching the new episode of CSI. Juice thinks about being alive in 60 seconds from the moment he’s talking to you.”

There’s a child-like quality to Juice that actually makes him one of the most sympathetic characters on the show. This will sound like a bit of a stretch, but Juice’s journey reminds me of a quote by former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, who said (paraphrasing), the hardest part of being president isn’t to do what’s right, but to know what’s right.

“That’s actually really great, and a great quote by Johnson,” Rossi said. “Basically, there are never any ill intentions with Juice. He never, ever has done anything maliciously. He never aggressively has said, ‘I’m going to do this.’ He never says, ‘I’m doing this regardless.’ With him it’s always, ‘I’m doing this because I think this is the best way for everyone to be okay.’ And then it completely goes the wrong way, and he just spins the web bigger and bigger.

“What I love about Juice is, it’s truthful. Kurt writes him so truthful. It’s such a high-stakes world, and this kid – because he’s a kid, compared to the rest of them – this kid has to adapt to all the situations. He has done some heinous things. But you see him having to live with that in every beat.

“Juice thinks, ‘I have to be this way, I have to be like these guys.’ So externally, he is being like them. But in his eyes and in his soul, you see that he is not that person. There is no enjoyment in the stuff he’s doing. He’s lost. He’s just lost.”

I can’t imagine there could be a happy ending for anyone in Sons of Anarchy, could there? But you know, if anyone has even a remote chance for one, I hope it’s Juice.

Loyalty has to count for something in this cruel, crazy world.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Jack is Back and The Simpsons go Lego; TV must-sees for the week

- May 4th, 2014

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Bill Harris’ top-10 must-sees for the week of May 4

1) 24: Live Another Day
Debut: Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) has been in hiding for four years, but suddenly he re-emerges in London, England. Is he there to do harm, to do good, or to take the Downton Abbey tour?
When: Monday on Fox, Global

2) Louie
Fourth-season debut with back-to-back episodes: Louis C.K returns with this funny, sad, depressing and uplifting series. Sarah Silverman guest-stars in the first episode, Jerry Seinfeld in the second.
When: Monday on FX Canada

3) The Simpsons
In the 550th episode of this series, Homer wakes up to find everyone in Springfield, include himself and his family, is made of Legos (that’s the family home pictured above). In the corporate toy world, this is what they call synergy.
When: Sunday on Fox, Global

4) Two and a Half Men
11th-season finale: With Kimberly Williams-Paisley continuing her role as Gretchen, the fiancee of Alan (Jon Cryer), her real-life husband – country singer Brad Paisley – makes a guest appearance.
When: Thursday on CBS, CTV

5) Resurrection
First-season finale: Arcadia is in a state of chaos with the return of the dead reaching a critical mass, so Bellamy (Omar Epps) feels he has no choice but to ask for outside help. Not everyone agrees with him.
When: Sunday on ABC, City

6) Veep
Dan (Reid Scott) and Amy (Anna Chlumsky) compete to become campaign manager for Selina (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), but she is being advised that her wisest move might be to dump her entire team.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

7) 2 Broke Girls
Third-season finale: Caroline (Beth Behrs) encourages Max (Kat Dennings) to write the one exam she needs to complete her high school degree. Because if there’s one thing this series is about, it’s education.
When: Monday on CBS, City

8) CSI
14th-season finale: As the team investigates a current-day crime that is linked to a 25-year-old mob heist, Brass (Paul Guilfoyle) faces some tough choices when his daughter attempts suicide.
When: Wednesday on CBS, CTV

9) New Girl
Third-season finale: To make it less weird, Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson) invite the whole gang to accompany them on a cruise that they booked when they still were together as a couple.
When: Tuesday on Fox, City

10) The Goldbergs
Adam (Sean Giambrone) convinces Erica (Hayley Orrantia) to take him to the premiere of Return of the Jedi. I wonder, if Star Wars movies didn’t exist, where would current sitcoms get most of their material?
When: Tuesday on ABC, CTV

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Dracula in The Middle of Ravenswood? Top 10 TV must-sees for the week

- October 20th, 2013

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Bill Harris TV must-sees for the week of Oct. 20:

1 Dracula
Series debut: The mysterious title character, played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers from The Tudors, arrives in Victorian England, posing as an American entrepreneur keen on modern science.
When: Friday on NBC, Global

2 CSI
Marg Helgenberger returns as Catherine Willows for the 300th episode of this venerable series. Fittingly, the team works on a cold case that dates back to 2000.
When: Wednesday on CBS, CTV

3 Grimm
Third-season debut: Now that Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) knows about Nick (David Giuntoli), he can bring her into the fold as his powers – and the danger – have increased exponentially.
When: Friday on NBC, CTV

4 Canada’s Worst Driver Ever
The ninth season of Canada’s Worst Driver has added an extra word – ever – as nine notorious road terrors from past seasons return. Hosted by Andrew Younghusband.
When: Monday on Discovery

5 Witches of East End
Ingrid (Rachel Boston) struggles with the consequences of a spell, while Joanna (Julia Ormond) tries to uncover just who is framing her.
When: Sunday on Lifetime

6 The Illegal Eater
Series debut: Steven Page, formerly of Barenaked Ladies, investigates the kinds of underground restaurants where you go if you don’t have a million dollars.
When: Tuesday on Travel & Escape

7 Bones
After eight and a half seasons, you cordially are invited to the wedding of Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) and Temperance “Bones” Brennan (Emily Deschanel).
When: Monday on Fox, Global

8 Ravenswood
This new spinoff series is set up in the Halloween episode of Pretty Little Liars, which airs immediately prior to the debut of the new show. Tyler Blackburn and Nicole Gale Anderson star.
When: Tuesday on M3

9 The Middle
In the 100th episode of this underrated series, Frankie (Patricia Heaton) and Mike (Neil Flynn) agree to drive a giant cow float in their town’s 100th anniversary parade.
When: Wednesday on ABC, Friday on City

10 The Carrie Diaries
Second-season debut: Through a series of surprising events, the young Carrie Bradshaw (AnnaSophia Robb) meets one of the greatest friends of her life. Heads up, Sex and the City fans.
When: Friday on CW

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

CTV hopes to “Motive-ate” viewers with post-Super Bowl premiere

- January 29th, 2013

Kristin Lehman as Detective Angie Flynn in Motive

The Motive is the message.

But how will the message be received by a viewing public that claims it wants something new, yet often sticks with the tried and true?

That’s the challenge for the Canadian series Motive, which debuts Sunday, Feb. 3, in the plum time slot following the Super Bowl on CTV.

Through the years we all have seen enough police procedurals – the CSI franchise, the Law & Order franchise, etc. – to understand the basic format. But Motive takes that dramatic model and twists it.

In each episode of Motive, viewers are told fairly quickly who “the killer” is and who “the victim” is. What we don’t know is “why?”

How are the killer and the victim connected? What were the circumstances that led the former to murder the latter?

That’s where Vancouver homicide Detective Angie Flynn, played by Kristin Lehman, enters the fray.

Angie and her team – Detective Oscar Vega (played by Louis Ferreira), Detective Brian Lucas (played by Brendan Penny), Staff Sergeant Boyd Bloom (played by Roger Cross) and Dr. Betty Rogers (played by Lauren Holly) – spend each episode piecing together what happened. Therefore, until the very end, the team always is more “in the dark” than the audience, which already knows who committed the crime.

The first episode of Motive focuses on a creepy, picked-upon high school kid in a marching band (do Canadian high schools even have those? Isn’t that an American thing?).

When we first see the victim, an adult, he’s singing in a karaoke bar. The connection between the two, and the reasons for what occurs, certainly can’t be predicted or foreseen at first blush, so that’s a good thing.

I had a few different reactions to the debut episode of Motive.

First, it looks great. The production values are top-notch.

And I did like the two leads, Lehman and Ferreira. Lehman has kind of a Marg Helgenberger thing goin’ on, while veteran Ferreira is good in everything he does (including a recent guest spot on AMC’s Breaking Bad). However, I hope it’s not a pattern moving forward that Oscar thinks everyone is guilty and Angie thinks everyone is innocent.

Cinematography and characters aside, Motive‘s format can be disorienting when it comes to sustained attention.

I was interested in the first 10 minutes. I was interested in the last 10 minutes. But that left 20 minutes in the middle where I kind of drifted away, since I already knew who the killer was. It felt like there was some padding going on, and I’m not at all interested in the side story about Angie’s troubled teen.

Those middle 20 minutes also jump around in time, because much of the story has to be told through flashbacks. It never was confusing, that would be overstating it. But it can be a tad dizzying if you’re not right on top of it, which, as I stated earlier, is an issue.

Kudos to Motive for trying something new. A straight-forward police procedural in 2013 would seem at least five years behind the times.

What we’re about to find out is whether the world is open to a police procedural that doesn’t follow procedure.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Cyber-terrorism? We’re Cybergeddon it

- September 24th, 2012

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Delivery-wise, we’re Cybergeddon it, to put a 21st-century twist on an old Def Leppard song. But as always, content will determine if anyone wants to rock, er, watch.

A new digital drama series called Cybergeddon – starring Canadian Missy Peregrym (pictured above), who is best known for her starring role on Rookie Blue (Global, ABC) – debuts Tuesday, Sept. 25 exclusively on Yahoo! online, in more than 25 countries and in 10 languages.

Cybergeddon, from Anthony E. Zuiker (CSI), consists of nine digital chapters, rolled out at the pace of three per day, for three consecutive days.

Peregrym plays cyber-terrorism agent Chloe Jocelyn, who becomes a fugitive when she is accused of the types of serious cyber-crimes that she has dedicated her professional life to stopping.

There’s a cyber-trail a mile long pointing to Chloe’s guilt. But is she being set up? And is it all just a distraction for something bigger?

We have to say, Chloe’s cohorts are a little too quick to believe the worst of her. They’re the cyber-crime experts, supposedly, so they should know what’s possible in this realm, right? They burst into the mode of “we gotcha, punk” too rapidly for the sake of believability.

Also, I laughed out loud at the overt product placement for a certain anti-virus company.

All things considered, though, Cybergeddon is a slick, fast-paced endeavour. And Missy Peregrym, always easy on the eyes, gets to kick some serious butt, both cyber- and physical.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv