“A Million Little Things” Celebrates Friendship and Makes You Cry along the Way

Television viewing audiences have proven that no matter how sad or tearjerking a dramatic TV program is, they will still watch it religiously if the stories, characters, writing and acting are top-notch. I’m of course talking about “This Is Us“. ABC’s new drama “A Million Little Things” is putting that theory to the test. Just how much crying are we willing to do in order to be entertained?

The title comes from a tagline that appears at the beginning of the program “Friendship isn’t a big thing… It’s a million little things”. An ensemble cast of TV veterans tells the story of four friends who met by chance 10 years ago when they were stuck in an elevator. Over the course of 2 1/2 hours they shared their life stories with one another and discovered a common passion for the Boston Bruins hockey team. One of the four Jon suggested they get season tickets together and they been attending the games and building a friendship ever since.

However in the opening scenes Jon played by Ron Livingston is completing a business deal over the phone, stepped out onto the balcony of his office, and jumps off killing himself. The remainder of the episode deals with the other three friends trying to come to grips with his suicide. Naturally they wonder how they could’ve missed any signs of depression and they are wrestling with the guilt over their failure to prevent this tragedy.

Each of the three surviving friends has a complex story of their own. Eddie Saville played by former “Grimm” star David Giuntoli is a recovering alcoholic who is cheating on his wife. He gives a memorable eulogy of his friend revealing the back story of how they all met and some of the history of the friendship. Rome Howard played by Romany Malco is a filmmaker who makes TV commercials but longs to make more significant films. He’s carrying some secrets of his own. Finally we have Gary Mendez who is played by James Roday. You will recall him as Shawn Spencer on “Psych“. He is recovering from breast cancer and we are reminded that yes… men can get breast cancer. He’s a bit of a womanizer and picks up a woman at his cancer survivors support group, has sex with her in a bathroom, spends the night with her and then brings her as a date to the funeral of his friend.

Filling out the ensemble cast includes the wives and girlfriends of the friends. We have the widow Delilah Dixon played by Stephanie Szostak who you might recall from the USA Network series “Satisfaction“. Rome Howard’s wife Regina is an aspiring restaurateur is played by Christina Marie Moses seen recently in “The Originals“. Maggie Bloom is the girl that Gary brought to the funeral. She is played by Allison Miller who is been recently seen in “13 Reasons Why“.

There are a few plot twists and revealed secrets that I won’t discuss. But I will say they will give ample opportunity to move the story along in future episodes.

It’s interesting to see James Roday in a serious role much different from his character from “Psych”. Although he does have a few comic lines it is for the most part a straight dramatic role and he handles it well. Similarly David Giuntoli’s character is significantly different from Detective Nick Burkhardt in “Grimm” and he handles it well as well.

Overall it’s well-written, well acted, heavy drama and while the comparisons to “This Is Us” are unavoidable, I’m not sure it has the charm or heart of “This Is Us”. It doesn’t have the family element or the children’s stories that are at the core of “This Is Us”. So if that is what you are looking for, you won’t find it at least not in the opening episode. But other than that this has potential to be a big hit if it can move on with the stories of the characters and not being stuck in the issues surrounding the suicide.

Unfortunately I don’t have room for it in my schedule but I’m giving it a very strong “Recommended Watchable” rating. If you’re looking for a good cry check it out.

“FBI” Is Another Potential Hit for Dick Wolf

Producer Dick Wolf is responsible for creating at least two of the most successful series of TV programs on the air today. He is responsible for all versions of the “Law & Order” franchise as well as the various “Chicago…” programs which occupy the entire NBC schedule on Wednesday night this year. His new series “FBI” appears to have the same high level of drama, action and compelling entertainment as all of his other offerings.

This police procedural covers the agents of the New York office of the FBI. The major characters are two field agents. One is Maggie Bell played by Missy Peregrym who is been recently seen in the Syfy Channel series “Van Helsing” and “Ten Days in the Valley“. The other is Special Agent Omar Adom ‘OA’ Zidan played by Zeeko Zaki who has recently been seen in the military drama “Valor” and “24: Legacy“. The field agents are backed up by Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jubal Valentine played by Jeremy Sisto.

The opening sequence has the agents appearing on the scene of an apartment building explosion and realizing that there may be more bombs. Agent Bell orders the evacuation of all rescue personnel. As she expected, another explosion occurred a few moments later and brought down the entire building. The special-effects of these bombings sequences are state-of-the-art and quite dramatic.

Some of the drama comes from the fact that she refused to let a mother go back into the building and look for her missing son. Throughout the episode she is haunted by that mother’s grief and the loss of the small boy.

The remainder of the show is pretty much a typical police procedural story trying to figure out who is responsible for the bombing. There are other bombings and other bombs found before the case is solved. The urgency of the need to find the people responsible is palpable and keeps the story flowing well.

Basically everything you like about any other Dick Wolf produced and created procedural show you will find in this one. Do we really need another of these considering how many other programs he produces? That’s a question you will have to answer for yourself. But if you like his programs, this is definitely worth looking into.

You’re not going to get the overly complicated plot lines of recent shows like Quantico in which the storytellers seem to deliberately mislead the audience by hiding people’s motives. This is a basic straightforward police procedural but it is very well done.

I’m giving it an initial rating of “I’m Watching It” but it might slip to a similar “Recommended Watch” if my schedule gets too crowded.

“New Amsterdam” Might Be a Good Alternative to Existing Medical Dramas

Broadcast TV already has several successful medical dramas such as the long-running “Grey’s Anatomy“, and newcomers “The Good Doctor“, “The Resident” and “Chicago Med“. Recently we’ve also had shows such as “Code Black” which ran a few seasons. Are we really in need of another medical drama such as NBC’s new series “New Amsterdam“?

After seeing one episode of the new series I think it might be a tentative answer of “yes”.

First of all I don’t watch “Chicago Med” so I can’t really compare. I’ve probably seen every episode of “Grey’s Anatomy”. While I enjoy it, at times it’s a little more soap opera than I care for with too much focus on the personal romantic interactions between the characters. It does tell compelling medical stories so I’ve stuck with it all these years even though the soap opera aspects are not my favorite. Although I have continued to watch the entire first season “The Good Doctor” I am still uncomfortable with the basic premise that someone as severely autistic as Dr. Sean Murphy could be accepted as a surgical resident. I watched a couple of episodes of “The Resident” and found it to be extremely cynical and exploits people’s fears about incompetency of medical personnel. That made it a rather unenjoyable experience for me.

“New Amsterdam” confronts the flaws in the healthcare system head on but does so in a much more positive way than “The Resident”. Our main character Dr. Max Goodwin is the new medical director of New Amsterdam Hospital which is the fictional institution described as America’s oldest public hospital. Producers say it was inspired by New York’s Bellevue Hospital. In a staff meeting wrong his first day he fires much of the cardiac surgical team because they are more focused on profits than patient care. It’s a bit unclear how he came to that conclusion but the scene is really designed to illustrate how he’s willing to shake up the system.

Goodwin is played by Ryan Eggold who is most famous for playing Tom Keen on “The Blacklist“. His passion for fixing the system and taking care of patients is obvious and credible. However the show doesn’t get preachy about the flaws in the system. It’s just focused on dramatic storytelling about the patient’s and the doctors who work their best to treat them.

One storyline involves a young man who recently came from Africa and is possibly infected with Ebola. He’s been sent here unwittingly as a terrorist weapon to try to infect Americans. The challenges of treating such a patient are illustrated and as you might expect one of the doctors becomes exposed to the virus.

Another storyline involves the psychiatry department dealing with a young woman who has been passed from foster home to foster home. The doctor tries to find an appropriate permanent placement for her. If he cannot find placement he’s willing to bend the rules to keep her in the inpatient psychiatric care department just to give her some sense of stability.

So if you agree that “Grey’s Anatomy” is too much of a soap opera and don’t care for “The Resident” or “The Good Doctor” then you might want to check out “New Amsterdam”.

I’m thinking of creating a new category in my rating system. Based on how much I enjoyed the show I would normally give it a rating of “I’m Watching It“. However I’m already watching way too many TV shows on a regular basis so I may not continue to actually watch it but I would give it a strong enough recommendation as if I was going to watch it. So let’s add a new category… “Recommended watchable” which is better than the rather tentative category of “Could Be Watchable”. The “Recommended Watchable” means I would watch it if I had the time.

The New “Magnum PI” Lacks the Charisma Selleck Brought to the Original.

The broadcast networks are facing enormous competition from a variety of online streaming services. They seem to be at a loss to come up with anything new or original. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon are creating groundbreaking programs that are stealing audiences away from the traditional networks. So rather than come up with something new to compete with the streaming services, the trend has been to reboot popular series from the past. Some of them have been a welcome addition such as “Will & Grace” and “Roseanne/The Connors“. We will soon see if “Murphy Brown” adds to that list of successes.

Unfortunately I can’t say that the reboot of “Magnum PI” is a welcome addition to the string of reboots. I’m not sure we really need a show about a private detective. The private eye genre has been around for decades in literature, film and TV with such memorable characters as Philip Marlowe, Mike Hammer, and Sam Spade. On TV in the 70s and 80s we had “The Rockford Files“, “Mannix” and of course the original “Magnum PI” just to name a few. In recent years TV has drifted away from the traditional private eye towards the “police consultant” type of private detective. As I discussed in a previous review these have had varying degrees of success and credibility.

The original “Magnum PI” ran for eight seasons from 1980-1988. I used to watch it occasionally, I don’t really recall a lot about the various characters surrounding him. I always felt like most of the success of the show centered on the charisma of Tom Selleck. I recall he drove around in a fancy Ferreri, he had a sidekick who flew a small helicopter, and there was another sidekick who is a British guy named Higgins.

In the opening scene of the reboot we see our hero Magnum jumping out of a stratosphere balloon in a spacesuit and parachuting into North Korea to rescue a scientist and his family. He escapes Korean forces in a stunt filled chase sequence that pushed credibility beyond its limits. I was very concerned that if the show started off in such a ridiculous fashion we were in for a bad experience. It is suddenly revealed that this is a fictionalized version of events which they admit was highly embellished in a book about his exploits in the Navy. So I thought perhaps the show wasn’t going to be as ridiculous as it originally appeared from its opening sequence.

Unfortunately near the end of the show there is a similar chase scene in which he tries to re-create some of the events from his fictionalized exploits. Although it was not as successful as the fantasy version, it was still pretty ridiculous and unbelievable. It was a stunt sequence that has him jumping out of a car, grabbing onto the landing skid of a helicopter just before a truck smashes into his Ferreri destroying it and the truck and sending them all off a cliff. This scene was totally over-the-top and unbelievable in the worst sense of the word.

In between these ridiculous bookends we got just an ordinary detective show as he tries to track down who kidnapped and killed one of his old Navy buddies. The other action sequences and stunts were not half bad. Overall however there just wasn’t anything memorable about the entire experience. He still drives around in a hot Ferreri (although he ends up destroying two of them in the opening episode). He still has a buddy flying the same iconic small helicopter with a black, yellow, orange paint scheme. The theme song is the same. The fact that sidekick Higgins is now a woman doesn’t really add anything significant to the mixture.

Jay Hernandez plays the new Magnum but for me he lacks the charisma that was an important part of Selleck’s portrayal.

There isn’t anything really wrong with the show but it just isn’t memorable or compelling. If you’re looking for a Hawaii based action-adventure show with more memorable characters and more credible action sequences stick with the 2010 reboot of Hawaii Five-0.

For now I’m giving this a tentative rating of “could be watchable” but I won’t be watching.

Bruno Tonioli showed ignorance or disrespect towards blind contestant on DWTS

Last night on the season premiere of “Dancing With The Stars” judge Bruno Toniroli put on a display that was at best totally ignorant and at worst highly offensive. His natural style and critique involves lots of arm waving and gestures often much to the dismay of head judge Len Goodman who sits next to him and occasionally gets an inadvertent backhand as Bruno waves his arms wildly. His antics are part of the appeal of the show. However last night he found it impossible to come up with a better method of critique for a blind contestant.

Danielle Umstead is a bronze medal winning American Alpine skier in Paralympics. She is the first blind contestant to compete on the show. Previous seasons have included contestants who were deaf, amputees, and a former paraplegic who could walk but had no feeling in her legs. The show has always treated these contestants with dignity.

However last night Toniroli tarnished the show’s reputation and displayed a total lack of common sense when he used arm gestures to illustrate his otherwise constructive criticism of the blind contestant. Had it not been a display of abject ignorance it would have been totally offensive. I was surprised that he did not apologize before the end of the show and I would hope that in tonight’s second episode he would address the incident.

A brief Google search of stories about last night’s performance came up with many articles and videos talking about the performance but none referred to Bruno’s ignorant hand gestures. They quoted Len Goodman and Carrie Ann Inaba but made no mention of Toniroli’s reaction. I find that whitewashing of the episode perhaps more disturbing than the incident itself

Here is a YouTube version of the performance but it does not include the judge’s comments.

Here are a couple of screen grabs of Bruno’s arm gestures in trying to coach the blind contestant.


“Manifest” Has the Potential to Be Good Sci-Fi If It Doesn’t Get Lost

The sci-fi genre is all based on the question “what if?” What if you lived on a desert planet a long time ago in a galaxy far far away and suddenly found yourself thrust into the adventure of a lifetime? What if you are the captain of a starship given the task of exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before? What if time travel was possible? What if there was a zombie apocalypse? There is a contract between the creator of a sci-fi work and the reader or viewer. The contract says “Buy into my premise no matter how bizarre or otherworldly and then let me explore with you what will be the consequences.”

Good sci-fi operates under this contract. It doesn’t cheat. Once you by the premise, everything else which flows forth from that has to be logically consistent. Once you establish the rules of the universe in which you are operating, you really shouldn’t break those rules.

For the most part NBC’s new much advertised sci-fi series “Manifest” does a reasonably good job of playing the “what if” game with its audience. From the massive advertising campaign we thought we knew what that big “what if” question was. “What if a passenger airliner disappeared for five and a half years and suddenly reappeared?” From the perspective of the people on board the airplane, they went through a storm and a patch of rough turbulence but landed normally and hour or so later. However from the perspective of the outside world they had been missing for 5+ years. To my surprise, the premise goes a bit further. The survivors of this bizarre incident also gain a type of psychic ability that is manifested in the form of an inner voice that guides them to rescue people. I’m a bit concerned that this additional premise is a premise too far.

The missing airplane premise alone had the potential to make a really compelling story. It’s reminiscent of the hit TV series “Lost” (2004-2010) which asked the question “What if an airplane crashed on an uncharted island and the survivors had to deal with the harsh conditions, reconcile their past, and trying to understand the meaning behind their survival?” Had that been this sole premise of “Lost” it could have been a very compelling story. But it went further and added all sorts of bizarre supernatural elements, mysticism, unexplained scientific phenomena, not to mention a smoke monster. Initially I thought that the producers of “Lost” ruined what was going to be a pretty good show about survival. But these bizarre supernatural elements were so compelling and such a complexly written mythology that it made the show even more compelling. Unfortunately the ending which tried to explain everything left many viewers including myself quite disappointed.

Another example of the “what if unexplained phenomena occurred” genre was the recent HBO series “The Leftovers“. In that story, 2% of the world’s population vanished from the face of the earth with no explanation whatsoever. After three seasons of that series and a reasonable wrapup and conclusion they never did explain why it happened. If you read about the series, you knew up front that it was the producers and writers intended up front to never explain this unexplainable phenomenon. It was all about playing the “what if” game. Although that series did go astray a couple of times into a dream world that was a parallel reality as well as a death and resurrection of some of the characters, it pretty much played the “what if” game cleanly.

So back to the story at hand “Manifest”… In addition to the “what if a plane disappeared and came back five years later” premise. We soon discover that some of the survivors of this bizarre circumstance suddenly start hearing voices in their heads. These voices are leading them in directions where they save people’s lives. In one case a woman riding on a bus implores the bus driver to slow down and thus saves the life of a child who runs into the street in front of the bus. In another sequence the voices lead the woman to discover the location of two kidnapped children.

My concern is that this additional supernatural element has the potential to ruin the really compelling storytelling opportunities about what your life would be like if you disappeared for five years and then came back. I have to feel a little disappointed that this unexpected additional premise is part of the show. It seems that there are a lot of great storytelling opportunities based on the original missing plane premise. I’m not sure that the guiding voices in one’s head really is necessary.

Can “Manifest” become the next “Lost”? The jury is a long way from coming back on that verdict and we won’t really know unless the show survives multiple seasons and becomes the same sort of cult phenomena of “Lost”.

The encouraging thing about the show is that if you dismiss this add-on supernatural element and only focus on the what if you disappeared for five years and came back story line, it is doing an absolutely brilliant job of exploring that drama.

Our main character is Michaela Stone played by Melissa Roxburgh who was most recently seen in the single-season of the military drama “Valor“. She is an NYPD detective who is trying to escape a personal tragedy. She goes on vacation with her brother Ben, his wife and twin children, and her parents. Ben is played by Josh Dallas whom you will remember as Prince Charming from “Once Upon A Time“. Because of a flight overbooking she, brother Ben, and one of his children Cal decide to take a later flight back from their Jamaican vacation. The parents, sister-in-law, and other child take the original flight and arrive normally. Michaela, Ben, and Cal end up on the infamous flight 828 which disappeared and reappeared. Nephew Cal is a terminal cancer patient. Upon his return they discover that there is a new treatment developed during the five year absence that will offer him good hope of a cure.

Much of the story revolves around Michaela, brother Ben, cancer patient Cal, his twin sister Olive is now five years older, and Ben’s wife Grace. Michaela wrestles with the fact that her mother died during the absence. Her boyfriend moved on to marry another woman. And there are hints that Ben’s wife Grace has perhaps developed another relationship as well.

Despite the bizarre premise, this part of the story plays the “what if” game beautifully. You find the characters deep, compelling, internally consistent. It makes an unbelievable premise all the more believable and that’s what good sci-fi is all about. It illuminates the human condition using extraordinary circumstances and I mean that in the literal sense of the word “extra ordinary”.

One of the key features of the mythology of “Lost” was the symbolism and significance of various numbers. “Manifest” steals from that idea by attaching significance to the number 828. It was the flight number of their airplane. It was the address of the kidnapped girls that were discovered. It even refers to a Scripture quote Romans 8:28 which was often quoted by Michaela’s now deceased mother. So those who liked the mythology and mysticism and “Lost” are likely to be intrigued by this new show.

However if “Lost” left you cold with its over-the-top bizarre storylines, I encourage you to give this new show a chance and we will have to wait and see together if it goes off the rails and becomes unbelievably bizarre or if it could hang onto its core premise of exploring human nature and relationships under unusual circumstances.

For now I’m giving it a “I’m watching it” and my hope is that it doesn’t know too far astray and I can upgrade it to a rating of “I really like it”. I recommend you at least give it a try for a couple of episodes.

“I Feel Bad” Should Feel Bad. It’s Terrible

In my TV rating system typically the lowest rating I give a TV show is “Skip It“. Which means that I didn’t like it and in general I doubt that anyone else would. I do go to the trouble of explaining why. But there is one rarely used rating below that called “Worthless” which means it so bad I didn’t feel like going to the trouble of writing a review or encouraging you to waste your time even reading my review. It was a theoretical rating that I don’t believe I’ve ever used before. I did mention in my description of that rating that it would go to something like The Paul Reiser Show (2011) which should’ve been great but was totally unwatchable and was canceled after just two episodes.

NBC’s new sitcom “I Feel Bad” is earning the distinction of my first actual “Worthless” rating. It’s a combination of a family and workplace comedy about a woman who constantly feels bad about herself. She has a husband, several kids including an infant, overbearing parents, and a goofy collection of coworkers. All of the usual sitcom scenarios. In the first episode she’s worried she’s becoming like her mother. Yawn.

My usual criteria for a sitcom is “Did it made me laugh?” And this one didn’t. So as my “Worthless” rating suggests, I’m not going to waste my time writing a detailed review or making you read it.

Jim Carrey Isn’t Kidding in This Very Dark Comedy

The idea of Jim Carrey playing a “Mr. Rogers like” host of a children’s TV show looks a little bit creepy when you see the previews. Watching the new Showtime series “Kidding” doesn’t alleviate those concerns. I’ve watched 2 episodes so far and I so can’t figure out if it’s a comedy or a drama. Mostly it’s just weird.

Carrey plays Jeff Pickles a.k.a. Mr. Pickles the host of a beloved children’s puppet show on PBS for 30 years. His personal life however is a shambles because is son was killed in an auto accident one year ago. His marriage which was already in trouble falls apart. He tries to make sense of the world and maintain a good relationship with his surviving son who was a twin of the deceased boy.

In the opening episode he tries to convince his producer Sebastian played by Frank Langella that they should do a show about death. The idea is rejected because not only is this a beloved children show, it is a multimillion dollar branding and marketing institution that could be damaged by taking on such a dark topic.

It turns out that Sebastian is not only his producer but his father. Also his sister Deidre played by Catherine Keener works on the show as a puppeteer.

This is not the over-the-top kind of comedy you expect to see Jim Carrey playing. This is no Ace Ventura by any means. Despite the fact that he’s a grown man with 30 years of television experience he comes across with a youthful naïveté reminiscent of his character Truman Burbank in “The Truman Show“. As I said in the opening paragraph I’m not really sure if it’s a comedy or drama. Let’s call it a very dark comedy with ample doses of tragedy and pathos.

Carrey’s character is a complicated person and is well portrayed. The supporting cast is excellent as well and there are some other dark comic moments surrounding the supporting cast. But don’t expect a lot of laughs in a show whose primary theme is dealing with the death of a child.

I watched these episodes several days ago but have not bothered to write this review because I really wasn’t sure what to say about the show. I’m going to give it a very weak “I’m watching” rating mostly because I’m curious to see where the story will go. Don’t count that as a very ringing endorsement however. Check it out at your own peril.

“Rel” Shows Potential to be Funny but Only Time Will Tell

So we have a guy who is a standup comedian that gets his own sitcom. He has a male and female sidekick who come in and out of his life. We’ve seen this formula dozens of times before. It all began with Seinfeld but no one has been able to recapture that magic that we had between Jerry, Elaine, and Kramer. The new multi-camera half-hour comedy “Rel” starring Lil Rel Howery is another such attempt that at least initially falls short. Then again it’s probably unfair to compare a newcomer to what is one of the most successful sitcoms of all time.

Lil Rel Howery has appeared in the recently canceled “The Carmichael Show” which I enjoyed. However he is most famous for his role in the hit movie “Get Out” as the comic relief sidekick TSA agent who gives Daniel Kaluuya advice over the telephone as he faces his bizarre future in-laws. He is now capitalizing on that success with this new sitcom.

The premise of the show is that he is a nurse living on the south side of Chicago whose wife had an affair with his barber. She takes their two kids and moves to Cleveland. He tries to get over the shame of the loss. He is supported by his best friend Britney played by Jessica “Jess Hilarious” Moore and his ne’er-do-well brother Nat played by Jordan L Jones. Nat is recently out of jail and is constantly denying that he was a meth dealer. It wasn’t meth it was ecstasy like that makes a big difference.

Their father is played by veteran comedian Sinbad who is disappointed in both of his sons. In one scene where they go to church, dad tries to be supportive of his recently divorced son but he insists that he not sit near him because he doesn’t want to be associated with a guy who could lose his wife to a barber. The preacher in the church is also played by Howery made up in a bald cap and a beard.

My ultimate test for a sitcom is “did it make me laugh?” And on several occasions this one did. The first episode was pretty much a one joke story about the shame of losing your wife to your barber. It remains to be seen if the show remains creative and funny or just becomes a string of well-worn clichés.

Admittedly because I’m an old white guy I not going to have as much appreciation for some of the cultural context of an African-American cast and story. I probably will not continue to watch. I already enjoy “black-ish” and found it to be funnier than “Rel”. Don’t let my lack of enthusiasm for the show turn you off. It does have some very funny moments and I suppose once I got used to the characters I might appreciate it more. But in an already crowded space I will not be adding it to my watchlist.

Because I did laugh I will give it a very strong rating of “Could be watchable“. If you’re looking for a good African-American comedy you should check it out for yourself.

That show appears on Fox. The pilot episode was shown September 9 as a sneak preview and is available on demand. Regular episodes premier September 30.

Anarchy Fans Rejoice. Mayans, MC is Everything You Loved about SoA

For those of us who have been morning the loss of the hit drama “Sons of Anarchy” our sadness has been vanquished. The anarchy universe has been reborn in the new FX series “Mayans, MC”. Kurt Suter who created “Sons of Anarchy” brings us yet again complex, nuanced characters placed into impossible situations that test their loyalty, morality, and self-image. Known for his surprising plot twists, Suter brings his creative magic to the small screen yet again. Fans of the original “Sons of Anarchy” will find themselves completely at home in this new incarnation. If you’ve not seen Anarchy we highly recommend you check out this new series that shows every indication of being just as compelling as our previous visit to this world.

“Sons of Anarchy” was about a Southern California motorcycle club whose stock in trade was gunrunning, pornography, and prostitution. They often collaborated or sometimes collided with an Hispanic motorcycle club called the Mayans. That club is the basis for this new series. In Anarchy, the president of the Mayans was Marcus Alvarez played by Emilio Rivera. He appears in the opening episode not as the president and as the “Godfather” or sort of president emeritus of the organization. IMDb says he will appear in a total of 3 episodes. None of the rest of the members of the Mayans are carryovers from Anarchy although there are some cameo appearances (such as Robert Patrick) of other characters from Anarchy.

The lack of carryover characters does not in any way make this new incarnation unfamiliar to fans of the original. The complex relationships between characters, the moral dilemmas they face, the test of loyalties, the mind blowing plot twists, phenomenal action sequences, and gut wrenching violence that were the hallmarks of Anarchy are in full bloom. Let’s face it… This is a reboot but it’s a wonderful reboot.

Our main character is Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes played by JD Pardo whose credits include TV series “East Los High“, and “Revolution“. Here’s a prospect or you might a pledge trying to join the MC. He is sponsored by his older brother Angel. Their father Felipe who is a butcher in the town is played by Edward James Olmos. The club president Obispo “Bishop” Losa is played by Michael Irby who has been seen recently in “SEAL Team” and “True Detective“.

The club is in business providing security for the Galindo drug cartel. When one of the shipments gets hijacked it sets off a chain of events that has them doing battle with a rival Samoan club. We also meet a Mexican vigilante group made up of survivors of cartel violence who are trying to take down the cartel because the authorities seem powerless to do anything.

The hijacking reveals that there has to be a traitor among the group which adds to the tension of the situation. It’s bad enough when you are hired to protect a drug shipment worth $2.5 million. But then to try to weed out the traitor among you makes things even more complicated. I won’t go into any more plot details because it would spoil some big surprises. Let’s just say that everything is not as it seems. Nearly everyone is carrying some sort of secret. And a tremendous amount of detail is revealed about secret agendas in the first episode alone.

There is action galore throughout the first episode. The hijacking involves a stunt where a truck flips and explodes. There is a bloody shootout in a cemetery when they confront the Samoan gang about the hijacking. They eventually capture, torture and kill the Samoan leader in ways that will make you cringe. This is a violent adult drama not for the squeamish. And much to my surprise for a basic cable TV show they dropped at least three F-bombs. I had heard that the rules for basic cable were one “F-bomb” per season. At least that’s the rule for AMC’s “The Walking Dead“.

If you were a fan of Anarchy you are already watching this show. If you never saw the original, you don’t need to have seen it to jump into Mayans. Highly recommended show that earns a strong rating of “Must See” on my rating system.