GOD BLESS JEFF DANIELS – I just finished watching the seven-episode Godless on Netflix and have to proclaim it one of the best things I’ve ever seen on the cablenet. True the first episode, first scene, is Jeff Daniels’ left arm getting blown off; but, first episodes/original episodes are always a bit problematic.
In the 1880’s American West murderous outlaw gang leader Frank Griffin (Daniels) hunts for ex-protege Roy Goode. Frank’s chase leads him to La Belle, New Mexico – a town inhabited, after a mining disaster, almost entirely by women.
Griffin is a complex character; amazingly intuitive and incredibly lucky. In one episode, he comes across a household riddled with sickness and the one remaining person there believes him to be a priest. Miraculously, he adopts that persona. Daniels, who I’ve been a fan of for years and felt, up to this, he did his best work ever in Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom, is simply stunning here delivering dialogue that reaks of imagination and sadness. With a full beard and clad in western garb, Daniels takes this entire production to the next level. Jack O’Connell as Roy Goode is pretty sensational as well. He doesn’t want to fight, but his conflicted emotions get the better of him. You see, Griffin adopted him when his brother ran off. The story plot may not be all that new, but is handled just brilliantly. Michelle Dockery as the mysterious Alice Fletcher, who takes in Goode for a time and develops a relationship with him, is simply striking. Just luminous. I had never seen her before and was thoroughly engaged Godless is the work of Scott Frank who, with executive producer Steven Soderbergh, produced the excellent Out Of Sight years back with George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. Scoot McNairy as Sheriff Bill McNue is also particularly brilliant.
Just a brilliant assemblage of talent that worked perfectly, I cannot recommend this enough.
PAEN TO THE PEOPLE — We watched this past Sunday’s Homeland in real time, but wanted to wait a day or two before we weighed in on it. The show’s seventh season was a good one, albeit with a slow start, but in my estimation, there’s no way for this show to ever regain the momentum and interest in had when Damien Lewis was in it. Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin are as good as ever, but to me, the plots have become much too similar.
This season, two major characters, talk-show host Brett O’Keefe and FBI-man Dante Allen, were immediately dismissed after their respective characters ended … and, no word about them even came up in this finale! And, that’s just sloppy writing. And, the previous week’s two-minute cameo from F. Murray Abraham was absurd. Honestly, it felt more like some sort of contractual move to fulfill more than anything else. And, it was downright embarrassing to the fans. And, don’t even get me started on General McClendon.
I did like Elizabeth Marvel as the President and her reflective moments as she drove around in Washington. Director Mimi Leder really lifted those scenes with real resonance. Carrie gets captured in Russia and the last scene, much, much later, has her re-united with Saul, but seemingly without her memory. No one plays mad better than Danes, but this was just a little over the top.
The show’s next and final season will time-jump several years (and, be shot in Israel) and I predict Carrie will be back in fine form. But, it’s time for Homeland to end.
SAM & MIKE — In what appears to be one of the most remarkable twists in music so far this year; songwriter Mike Greenly (a former Fortune 500 corporate exec turned songwriter) has had his country song, “In Whatever Time We Have,” turned into a romantic pop ballad by Brit-singer Sam Stevens, which has become a Top Pop Ballad across the pond.
Greenly, who also doubles as a top notch speechwriter (Fed Ex, Exxon) and has had two #1 Dance Tracks via singer Kimberly Davis (from Nile Rodgers’ CHIC) says, “When I wrote this song with Paul Guzzone for the country market, I never dreamed it would find life as a pop ballad. “In this business, never say never!” Stevens, the so-called James Bond of rock in England, proclaimed this song, one of the best songs he’s ever recorded.”
SHORT TAKES — Buddy Guy closed B. B. King’s Sunday night. Here’s a farewell shot from photographer-extraordinaire Jeff Smith. Thanks Jeff … Look for Ian McDonald’s Honey West to appear again at Steve Walter’s Cutting Room in mid-June; hyping a new vinyl release. Details to follow … Boy, that Bruce Willis-Deathwish re-boot vanished pretty much without a trace. Did you see it? … Two new shows that have captivated me and continue to do so; ABC’s Deception and The Crossing. The former is sort of based on the much-loved Now You See Me (2013), which starred Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, and Michael Caine. The TV-show features newcomer Jack Cutmore-Scott; as sort of a cross between The Mentalist’s Patrick Jane and Millennium’s Frank Black The rub is that he has a twin-brother. I’ve watched every show and am loving it. The Crossing, the alphabet network’s answer to Lost is also proving to be a winner. Every week brings a good, new twist. This show proves yet again, it’s all about the writing … Happy Bday Beth Wernick!
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Curtis Urbina; Gibson Guitars; Jeff Smith; Chris Gilman; Derek Storm; Chuck Pulin; Bob Gruen; May Pang; Carmine Appice; Todd Rundgren; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Scott Shannon; Race Taylor; Len Berman; Barry Z; and, CFS.