Saturday, May 26, 2007
Preview ... Intriguingly Miasmic Meadowlands on Showtime
From Ancient Greece until late in the 19th century, it was thought that the swamps gave rise to poisonous vapors - miasmas - which tainted the air and caused all manner of illness and disorientation. The main alternate theory blamed human maladies on demons and devils. When you were sad, you were said to have the blue devils ... the origin of what we today call the blues.
Showtime's new 8-episode series Meadowlands premieres Sunday, June 17. I just saw the first four episodes. And while a doctor and music play important roles, this highly original darkling series is much more than that. In fact, it is so original - in pacing and story - that it almost defies categories.
For starters, think The Prisoner meets Twin Peaks meets Dexter meets any story about witness protection programs. The Brogans come to Meadowlands. We don't know why. But we do know that they better not leave. And we do know that not only the Brogans but everyone else in Meadowlands has some kind of story that maybe any well adjusted person is better off not knowing. Although it's not quite "The Monsters Are Due On Maplestreet," that Twilight Zone classic, there is a flavor of something ghostly, possibly supernatural or maybe just dreamlike, that is also just below the surface of Meadowlands.
The series has fine, attractive acting. David Morrissey - seen most memorably in Derailed with Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen - plays Danny Brogan with just the right combination of power and vulnerability. Indeed, that combination of emotions is at play in every member of this family, and simmers in surprising ways in Danny's wife Evelyn (Lucy Cohu) and their two teenage kids - fraternal twins - Zoe (Felicity Jones) and Mark (Harry Treadaway). Felicity Jones, in particular, brings a real freshness to her role. And the background characters, the neighbors, are just what you would expect in a British series of this sort - each an exquisite nutter, some dangerous, some funny, some just strange, and each played to the hilt.
I put Dexter in the list of comparisons, not just because Meadowlands and Dexter are both Showtime series, but because both share a little gore. And maybe a touch of Arrested Development, too. But you'll know that these Meadowlands when zany are never light and breezy ... if you keep watching, you'll see blood and hear screams and get caught up in a compelling puzzle of a story....
Special sneak preview of the first episodes of Meadowlands ... password: secret
Look here for reviews of specific episodes of Meadowlands in June... ... Meadowlands Opens ... with Tongues and Groves ... Episode 2 ... Episode 3 ... Episode 4 ... Episode 5 ... Episode 6 ... Episode 7 ... Episode 8