by Ron Wynn
After dealing itself aces with House of Cards, Netflix continues its venture into the realm of original television production this Friday with the debut of its second show, Hemlock Grove. Novelist Brian McGreevy is doing double duty, as his horror volume about a town where werewolves reside (among other eerie creatures and events) provides the series' thematic base, and he's an executive producer on the 13-episode program.
"It's like Twin Peaks with monsters," is the description McGreevy gave TV Guide in discussing his concept and show. "The show is about two main families," he explained. "The Rumanceks, who are this gypsy family, and the Godfreys, who are this steel-dynasty family." He said the clans, led by "hippie-cool" Lynda Rumancek (Lili Taylor) and "creepy-hot" Olivia Godfrey (Famke Janssen), end up "becoming entangled in some pretty complicated ways."
There are also two family sons involved in the action. One is Peter (Landon Liboiron), the other Roman (Bill Skarsgard). Their class differences (Roman's wealthy, Peter not so much) will be part of the dynamic. More promising, to horror fans, is the involvement of Hostel horrormeister Eli Roth, who directed the first episode. Roth's participation gives the show the kind of cachet that David Fincher brought to House of Cards.
Netflix subscribers have the option to view all 13 episodes at once on Friday, or on demand. Check out the NSFW red-band trailer above.
Whether you loathed or loved the 1980s, the National Geographic channel's documentary on that decade should contain something of interest. The '80s: The Decade That Made Us concludes tonight at 8 p.m., and there's an impressive list of personalities and commentaries offering their expertise and memories.
The former husband and wife duo of Ted Turner and Jane Fonda are on board, as well as filmmaker Oliver Stone, Michael J. Fox and Joan Collins, Steve Wozniak and Calvin Klein. Robin Leach, whose TV show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous was an '80s staple, is another contributor.
Rob Lowe serves as narrator, and executive producer Jane Root promises not to overlook the decade's excesses or ills. Whether you recall the period as one to celebrate or forget, this program and others like it are a welcome alternative to the mostly forgettable material from the networks, as many limit or withhold their best shows' final new episodes for the May sweeps.
With series star Alan Tudyk getting plenty of attention for his out-of-character role as racist manager Ben Chapman in 42, ABC may lure a few new viewers to the second season finale of the sitcom Suburgatory.
That possibly being the case, the network is packaging its final two shows into an hour Wednesday (WKRN-2, 7 p.m.). Tudyk's character Noah gets one of the principal storylines with the demise of his budding romance with former housekeeper Carmen (Bunnie Rivera). That is just one of two degenerating situations involving Noah, who's forced to leave his home as well. He moves in with George (Jeremy Sisto), something certain to put a damper on their friendship.
Other plot devices include the departure of Tessa's (Jane Levy) boyfriend Ryan (Parker Young) to college and the problems George encounters in his relationship with Dallas (Cheryl Hines). Suburgatory is neither a big hit nor a ratings bust. With American Idol's fortunes dipping a bit, it's done reasonably well. The show makes a good bridge between The Middle and Modern Family, though it's neither as quirky as the former nor edgy as the latter.
The networks may be striking out with high-concept drama (NBC's Grimm being an exception), but cable outlets are enjoying the fruits of their obsession with zombies, vampires, werewolves and magic.
The Walking Dead's final episodes on AMC landed the show in the Top 10 for all programs, broadcast or cable. It took only one episode and immediate extensive online reaction for A&E to give Bates Motel a second season. Game of Thrones is proving a bigger hit for HBO than other more critically lauded shows like Newsroom and Veep.
Syfy has now entered this programming game with Defiance, a show that's taken more than five years from initial discussions to get on air. It's a futuristic thriller about Earth in approximately 2043. It's been conqured by seven alien races, who invaded after their own star system was destroyed.
Former Marine Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler) is sheriff of the town called Defiance, sitting atop what's left of the city that used to be St. Louis. He has a dual mission. In addition to maintaining some semblance of order, he's trying to help the survivors start over, since he's one of the very few who can remember what things were like prior to the alien takeover.
Others in the cast include Julie Benz, Mia Kirshner, Jaime Murray and Kenya. Syfy is also linking the plotlines to an interactive video game for those who want to enhance and/or increase their enjoyment while watching the show. It airs Mondays at 8 p.m.