Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Performance Artists

At the half-way point, 2013 already adds another year to the Platinum Age of television. Four new shows have added riches to the treasure trove of programming with outstanding performances that definitely must be celebrated.

FXs THE AMERICANS, the Russian sleeper cell saga set in Reagan era America, began as a decent methadone for those jonesing for HOMELAND heroin. Once it picked up speed, it became a definite contender for that spy thriller throne the Showtime show currently wears. Star Keri Russell has definitely put FELICITY in her rear-view mirror and is formidable as a suburban spy mom. But the real breakout star here is the actor who plays her comrade in arms, Matthew Rhys. He drew me into this show and kept me there, mastering a high wire act between hero and villain. Aiding and always abetting is the remarkable Margo Martindale.
Sundance Channel had two major events this year. Film director Jane Campion tackled the small screen with finesse with the mini series TOP OF THE LAKE, a better and more compact mystery than THE KILLING. Elizabeth Moss, taking time off from MAD MEN, definitely had the chops to carry the five hours with memorable moments from Holly Hunter and, tearing the scenery part like a pit bull, the great Peter Mullan.
Also on Sundance, RECTIFY, created by a new force of nature o contend with named Ray MacKinnon, tells the methodically brutal tale of a death row inmate, cleared of murder charges by DNA evidence, returning to his unforgiving hometown. As Daniel Holden, the main character of this candidate for new show of the year, Eden Young is so hauntingly powerful, he makes RECTIFY absolutely unforgettable television.

Another star exploded across the airwaves this spring on BBC America's sci-fi clone series ORPHAN
BLACK. The tour de force performance-or performances, rather- of Tatiana Maslany elevates this show into the stratosphere. This is an actor's dream, recalling Sally Field's SYBIL sensation of the 1970s that put her on the map. Maslany varies each clone of herself with the precision of a master of her craft. She and Eden Young of RECTIFY give the performances of the year and it will be difficult for anyone to even come close to their level of excellence.

But it will be fun to see if anyone can because we, the viewing public, will be so much the richer for it.

While I bitch and moan incessantly about the Modern Age, it is gratifying to witness the flourishing of what was once known as the Vast Wasteland.

Post a Comment