Switched at Birth and the End of Life

Posted on July 21, 2014 at 3:59 pm

I’m a big fan of ABC Family’s Switched at Birth and have appreciated its complicated characters, honest and heartfelt relationships, and compelling storylines, as well as its unprecedented, in-depth portrayal of the deaf community. Last week’s episode may have been the all-time best (SPOILER ALERT) as it dealt frankly with the shocking death of one of the main characters, Angelo Sorrento, played by Gilles Marini.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgdqfWDNqnI

The show has a wide range of personalities, so there were many different reactions to Angelo’s crash, his operation, and the decisions to be made after the doctor told the family that there was no hope and advised taking him off the respirator. It included a scene that almost never appears on network television or in movies — a candid discussion of prayer in times of the direst need, what it means and how it helps. There were conversations, some very heated, about life support and Angelo’s wishes. There were anguished memories of angry confrontations and refusals of support. There was the decision about who should be the one to call Angelo’s mother. There was enormous compassion and support and also hurt and recrimination. It was a gripping and exceptionally astutely observed hour of television. Here’s where we pick it up tonight.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4z1xnASZAU
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Television

Television to Watch for in Winter 2014

Posted on January 3, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Yes, I want you to limit everyone in the family’s screen time, even when it’s cold out.  But there’s something to reward you — some great stuff to watch for your select television time.

Returning favorites:

communityCommunity: Creator Dan Harmon is back, which is very good news for the mega-fans of this meta-comedy.

Episodes: The wickedly funny Showtime series about English writers who come to Los Angeles is back with a reunited Beverly and Sean dealing with their star — Matt LeBlanc in a hilarious version of himself — in a career slump.

Switched at Birth: “Breaking Bad’s” R.J. Mitte joins the cast as a possible love interest for Daphne and Sandra Bernhard shows up as a mentor for Bay.

Downton Abbey: Six months after the birth of her baby and the death of her husband, Lady Mary and her family struggle with financial and emotional upheavals as the Jazz age and its upheavals dawn.

Sherlock: Benedict Cumberbatch returns for three 90-minute mysteries.

Justified: Sheriff Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) copes with first-time fatherhood and trouble with his frenemy Boyd.

Intriguing newcomers:

RAKETrue Detective: Real-life pals Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey star in this dark crime drama as Louisiana state cops on the hunt for a serial killer over a 17-year period.

Being Mary Jane: The always-watchable Gabrielle Union takes the title character from made-for-TV movie to series as a news anchor whose personal life can get chaotic.

Rake: Greg Kinnear plays a top criminal defense trial lawyer who has a lot of problems outside the courtroom, including IRS trouble and a gambling addiction.  This is the US version of a hugely popular Australian series.

Under the Gunn: “Project Runway” mentor Tim Gunn and two of the series’ most creative designers, Mondo and Anya star in a new fashion competition series.

Star-Crossed: Alien teenagers infiltrate a small-town high school and hotness ensues.

 

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Television

What I’m Looking Forward to in Early 2012

Posted on January 1, 2012 at 8:00 am

January is chronically the worst month of the year for movies as the studios release their back inventory of duds.  But this month looks unusually promising.  “Beauty and the Beast 3D” opens on January 13.  That ballroom scene is going to be thrilling in 3D.  And I can’t wait to tell you more about “Joyful Noise” with Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton as feuding gospel choir leaders.  Parton has written three terrific new songs and the movie is a shot of sunshine to warm the chilliest winter day.  I also loved “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock and junior Jeopardy champion Thomas Horn as a boy trying to make sense of his father’s loss on 9/11.  Viola Davis and Max von Sydow give performances of heart-wrenching beauty.  “Red Tails” is the story of WWII war heroes the Tuskegee Airmen.  “The Undefeated,” coming out late January, is an uplifting documentary about the dedicated coach and players of a Memphis football team. “Carnage” has Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet in the story of two couples whose thin veneer of civility dissolves in a dispute over a schoolyard fight involving their sons.

And there’s some good news on television, too.  One of my favorite new series of 2011 returns for a new season.  “Switched at Birth” quickly transcended its outlandish premise for an engrossing drama about two very different families struggling to realign after discovering that their teenage daughters were — see the title.  One family is wealthy and the other is not but the bigger divide is that one of the girls is hearing-impaired.  The series’ respect for deaf culture is especially welcome.  The exceptionally strong cast includes Katie Leclerc, Lucas Grabeel, Sean Berdy, and Constance Marie.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLLHqdMTNtg

I’m also looking forward to the return of Royal Pains, though I hope there’s less Evan/Paige/Paige’s family drama, more for Hank to do than treat the patient of the week.  I want to see lots more of Divya, too.  Another of my favorites, Downton Abbey, returns to Masterpiece on January 8.  Change comes even faster to the Earl of Grantham, his American-born wife, and their three daughters — beautiful and accomplished but unable to inherit the estate because they are female.  WWI changes everything as men go off to war and injured soldiers are cared for in rooms once reserved for elegant tea service.  (Fans must check out the hilarious Downton Abbey parody video produced as a charity fund-raiser.)

Project Runway All-Starslooks like fun, with fan favorites like Anthony, Sweet Pea, and Mondo and fashion superstar Isaac Mizrahi as one of the judges.  The debut I am most eagerly anticipating is Smash, the backstage story of a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe, produced by Steven Spielberg and starring “Will and Grace’s” Debra Messing, plus Oscar-winner Anjelica Houston, and American Idol star Katharine McPhee.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbYZppbm8Rc&feature=related

Here’s to a great year!

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Trailers, Previews, and Clips

Breakthrough Performer: Katie Leclerc

Posted on June 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm

ABC Family has a new series about two families who discover that their teenage daughters were switched at birth.  The girl who grew up with a single hairdresser mom and the girl who grew up in the wealthy home of a former pro athlete meet their biological families for the first time.  It’s a very good show and one of its brightest stars is Katie Leclerc.  She plays the bright, confident biological daughter who grew up with the single mother.  And she is deaf, and attends a school for the deaf, though in the first episode it looks like she will transfer to the school her biological parents want her to attend.

Leclerc has Ménière’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear.  She is fluent in American Sign Language.  She has a dazzling smile and a glowing presence on screen.  It is a joy to see the portrayal of a character who has a disability but is neither a saint nor a victim, and it is an equal joy to celebrate the arrival of a talented newcomer who has the skill and charisma to become a major star.  The show has an appreciation of deaf culture and being deaf is just a part of who the character is.  The excellent cast also includes Lucas Grabeel, Lea ThompsonVanessa Marano, and Constance Marie.  Don’t miss this show.

 


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJ_uZtcgFF0

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