TV Series: Rectify

I was both intrigued and also a bit bothered by how this new Sundance Channel show was promoted: “From the producers of Breaking Bad.” Sometimes producers are a creative force; others they are more organizers and bean counters. No matter here, because this new series has similar groundbreaking and unique qualities to the cited show, one of modern TV’s finest and most imaginative. This one centers on a convicted murderer of his high school girlfriend who is released from death row after 20 years based on DNA evidence, but not exonerated. He returns to his small Georgia hometown and a family in which his father had died and mother remarried to a husband that takes over the family business with his son. The big question remains whether he's a killer or not (and just underneath that if he will be retried). The fuel for dramatic fire is how two decades in solitary confinement in prison has changed the protagonist (with the always churning undercurrent of how much society has changed) plus how he fits into a family and community that has widely varying views of his possible innocence and guilt. Even if the series overplays the freed convict’s unease and oddness a bit, Rectify is a compelling new show well worth catching up on its short but dramatically powerful debut season and following in the future.

TV Series: The Bletchley Circle

Ah, the British. They so excel at vividly real period pieces, this one set in early 1950s postwar London where four women who were codebreakers at England’s top-secret Bletchley Park intelligence operation during World War II reunite to solve a series of murders based on the patterns shared by the crimes. It’s a superb twist on the “buddy” structure with four fully-fleshed, smart and strong women leads (whose qualities are stifled by conservative English society) and a crackling dramatic line. Made initially as a miniseries, it has been renewed for another season over in the UK that promises further sharp and memorable TV moments.

TV Documentary: Codebreakers: The Bletchley Park Lost Heroes

My local PBS station preceded its broadcast of The Bletchley Circle with this excellent examination of the cerebral feats of heroism beyond the widely-known tragic tale of Alan Turing, who broke the Nazi Ultra code, to other geniuses in the operations whose long-secret achievements (including the invention of the world’s first computer) are now seeing the light of day. It illuminates a hidden chapter in WW II history, and presages both the era of modern technology now in full bloom and The Bletchley Circle series with a rich backstory.

From The Progressive Populist, August 1, 2013



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