Bill's delights and duds for March TV
Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 06:00 am
Welcome to Prime Times first TV column, TV Month, by Bill Brioux. Bill has covered television for more than 30 years, beginning with TV Guide and continuing today with the Canadian Press. Every month, exclusive to Prime Times, Bill will preview the best (and worst) of the month ahead.
Feud: Bette and Joan (Sun., March 5, FX Canada) is Hollywood in all its bitchy glory. Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon play Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, arch rivals who at one time ruled over MGM and Warner Bros.
By the early ‘60s, however, both were virtually washed up in Hollywood. It was only by teaming with a diva she despised – Davis – that Crawford was able to sell a studio head on her comeback in the creepy horror flick “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”
Stanley Tucci plays studio boss Jack Warner with such macho glee he steals every scene. Judy Davis turns giant hat wearing into its own award category as gossip maven Hedda Hopper. Alfred Molina handles Bette and Joan like two ticking bombs as director Robert Aldrich. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Murphy favourite Sarah Paulson score face time as film contemporaries Olivia de Havilland and Geraldine Page.
It is Lange and Sarandon’s series, however, and they’re electric in this parable on ageism, sexism and how little things have changed in Hollywood and in society. As Bette Davis said in “All About Eve,” “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” ****
Time After Time (Sun., March 5, ABC). Time after time could refer to all the movie makeovers we’ve been seeing lately. This new weekly series stars likable Freddie Stroma as H.G. Wells, back before he wrote the sci-fi epic “The Time Machine” and apparently was building them. Wells sketchy pal John Stevenson, a.k.a. Jack the Ripper (Josh Bowman), borrows the time machine and bolts to the 21st century. Wells goes after him and, just like in the 1979 movie starring Malcolm McDowell, adventure ensues. It’s all very Quantum Leap meets Murdoch Mysteries, with nary a hot tub time machine in sight. ***
Anne (Sun., March 19, CBC). Can even Canadian audiences get too much Anne of Green Gables? We’ll find out this season with two new versions, including this eight-episode effort. Amybeth McNulty makes for a spunky Anne Shirley and Geraldine James and R.H. Thomson are both fine as Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. Still, viewers who remember the 1985 TV version starring a very young Megan Follows (Reign) may not find this a kindred spirit. **1/2
What Would Sal Do? (Fri., March 24, CraveTV). Sal (Dylan Taylor) is a slacker who, at 30, still lives in his mother’s basement. His mother, Maria (Jennifer Dale), tells him he was an immaculate conception and may be the second coming of the son of God. This is news to his girlfriend (Kaniehtiio Horn), best buddy Vince (Ryan McDonald) and Father Luke (Scott Thompson from Kids in the Hall). Sinfully funny. ****
Imaginary Mary (Wed., March 29, ABC). Awkward blend of Pixar-Disney family fare and modern sitcom raciness. A single PR executive (Jenna Elfman from Dharma & Greg) falls for a single dad (Stephen Schneider). He has three skeptical kids; she has one meddlesome, imaginary friend, an animated leftover from her unhappy childhood. “Imaginary Mary” (voiced by SNL alumni Rachel Dratch) seems like a blend of Alf and those TV bears that love toilet paper – which might have been a better sitcom idea.