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FX's Trust takes some big whacks at the Gettys


Donald Sutherland’s in command as tycoon J. Paul Getty. FX photo

Premiering: Sunday, March 25th at 9 p.m. (central)
Starring: Donald Sutherland, Hilary Swank, Harris Dickinson, Brendan Fraser, Michael Esper, Anna Chancellor, Norbert Leo Butz, Laura Bellini, Charlotte Riley, Sarah Bellini, Silas Carson, Charlotte Riley
Produced by: Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy, Christian Colson

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In life, in death, on big screens and small, controversy goes hand in hand with the Gettys.

The 2017 feature film All the Money in the World initially made some noise by recasting the disgraced Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer in the pivotal role of patriarch J. Paul Getty Sr. But an outcry of protest kicked in when it was revealed that Mark Wahlberg received $1.5 million to reshoot some scenes while co-star Michelle Williams got less than $1,000.

The 10-episode first season of FX’s Trust covers the same ground the film did in depicting the 1973 kidnapping of Getty’s grandson, J. Paul Getty III. But unlike All the Money in the World, this new treatment shows the debt-ridden 16-year-old fabricating his abduction in hopes of profiting from a king-sized ransom payment from his grandfather. Then things go very wrong when a second, for real kidnapper enters the picture.

This is not setting well with grandson Getty’s surviving sister, Ariadne Getty. Threatening legal action, she says via her attorney, “It is ironic that you have titled your television series Trust. More fitting titles would be Lies or Mistrust, since the defamatory story it tells about the Gettys’ colluding in the kidnapping is false and misleading, and viewers rightly ought to mistrust it.”

Ariadne Getty’s attack came two and a half months after a Television Critics Association winter “press tour” session in which Trust’s co-creator and co-executive producer, Simon Beaufoy, contended that “it became clear reading between the lines that he (Getty III) actually kidnapped himself. It was a hoax gone wrong.”

FX has affixed a standard opening disclaimer to episodes of Trust, the first three of which were made available for review. “The following is inspired by actual events,” the network says. The closing disclaimer goes a bit further: “Some dialogue was created consistent with those events. Various events were combined for dramatic purposes.”

So what is a viewer to believe? And does it much matter anymore, as long as we are “entertained” or even engrossed by the latest “non-fiction” treatment of the rich and famously dysfunctional?

Well, the Gettys portrayed in Trust get one’s full attention right from the start. During a lavish party, J. Paul Sr.’s oldest of five sons, George, commits suicide by jabbing a two-pronged barbecue fork into his chest. Then it’s time for Donald Sutherland to immediately command the screen as George’s father

Awakening the next morning at his Sutton Place estate in England, he chokes down a double egg yolk concoction prepared by his head manservant Bullimore (Silas Carson) before being dressed and even having his teeth brushed for him.

“I will not have that!” he rages upon hearing of George’s suicide, which eventually will be written off as a “terrible accident.” J. Paul Sr. then proceeds downstairs to a breakfast table mostly populated by the women who compose his harem. “So, which of you loves me best?” he inquires.

Sutherland is letter-perfect imperious in this role, whether dressing down one of his surviving sons, admiring the Kennedys as “men with red balls and hot blood” or coldly dismissing one of his live-in mistresses after he fails to achieve an erection.

“Maybe you want to talk?” she asks.

“With you?” he retorts incredulously. “No. Leave.”

Into this den of iniquity, and just in time for George’s wake, bounces J. Paul Getty III (Harris Dickinson) in full hippie regalia. But the old man comes to enjoy the kids’s pluck and intellect while his grandson has one objective in mind -- securing $6,000 to pay off a series of debts he’s rung up in Rome while partying and occasionally selling one of his paintings for a big snort of cocaine.

Grandson manages to charm granddad in ways he’d never dreamed until his own negligent father, the brushed off J. Paul Getty Jr. (Michael Esper), shows the old man Getty III’s pictorial in “Playmen” magazine. This gets him a one-way ticket back to Rome after he’d just been grandly anointed as the old man’s successor. Then comes the “kidnapping.”

Episode 2 largely belongs to a bulked up Brendan Fraser as cowboy-hatted Fletcher Chase, the role played by Wahlberg in All the Money in the World. Chase, a former CIA operative, is J. Paul Sr.’s chief negotiator. He’s also biblically inclined and rather sweetly persuasive unless you try his patience. Carrying ample cash and willing to spread this wealth in return for information on Getty III’s abductors, Chase journeys to Rome and starts cutting deals. He also meets up with Getty III’s blood mother, Gail (Hilary Swank), who’s been living with a jerk after being divorced from J. Paul Jr.

Gail is a true believer in her son’s essential goodness while Chase comes to believe the whole kidnapping was staged. Back in England, old man Getty publicly proclaims that “I will not be paying a single solitary cent” in ransom. Neither will Gail, because she has no money.

The third episode reconstructs how Getty Sr.’s grandson got into this mess in the first place before deciding to stage his own kidnapping out of desperation. Whether you believe any of this or not, it’s an involving and sometimes brutal hour.

The instantly arresting performances of Sutherland and Fraser, plus a solid first impression by newcomer Dickinson, keep Trust on track as an immorality play that FX says will be “told over multiple seasons and spanning the twentieth century.”

The dramatic licenses taken apparently will be considerable, although by no means unprecedented. “Fact-based” movies and TV productions have a long history of being branded as trash by either descendants or among the living who are depicted. They often have a case. But just as often, few really care. Just dish the dirt.

So perhaps in fact you can’t trust Trust. Regardless, it’s a pretty good wallow so far, a real-life Dallas or Dynasty whose more diabolical Ewings and Carringtons swallowed their enemies and family members whole when they weren’t simply spitting them out. That they did this is undisputed. It’s the hows and the whys that will always be subject to interpretation.


Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Bill Hader takes a shot at being a hitman in HBO's Barry


Bill Hader is guns up as an insular hit man in Barry HBO photo

Premiering: Sunday, March 25th at 9:30 p.m. (central) on HBO
Starring: Bill Hader, Sarah Goldberg, Henry Winkler, Stephen Root, Paula Newsome, Anthony Carrigan, Glenn Fleshler, John Pirruccello
Produced by: Alec Berg, Bill Hader

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Lest we entirely forget, Bill Hader is the guy who fired cat-powered laser guns with partner Andy Samberg in a fairly famous series of Saturday Night Live digital shorts.

Now he’s blazing away with pistols and automatic weaponry as a former Marine who returns from Afghanistan to become a lonely but lethal hit man. HBO’s Barry is serio-comic in tone. Still, Hader’s title character also piles up a fairly sizable body count during the eight-episode Season One, all of which was made available for review.

Will you buy him in this role, in addition to Henry Winkler as a hot-tempered acting coach? Skepticism is understandable, but both Hader and Winkler manage to make the sale while much of the comedy in these half-hour episodes is provided by a pair of Chechen mobsters who nonetheless are not to be taken lightly. Barry isn’t always completely on target. There are more than enough nifty plot turns and deftly played scenes, though, to keep the series steadily on its feet before a season-ending cliffhanger leaves one very much wanting more.

Barry Berkman (Hader) is first seen at the scene of his latest hit, with a shot-through-the-forehead corpse reposed in bed. He then returns to Cleveland, awaiting another assignment from a handler named Fuches (Stephen Root) while otherwise living drearily by himself.

It turns out his next stop is Hollywood, where Chechen mob king Goran Pazar (Glenn Fleshler) wants Barry to knock off an aspiring actor who’s been sleeping with his wife. While scoping out his would-be victim, Barry peeps in on an acting class run by Gene Cousineau (Winkler), author of Hit Your Mark and Say Your Lines. He’s strictly cash upfront, and one of his other students is Sally Reed (Sarah Goldberg), with whom Barry is quickly smitten.

What if Barry enrolled in the class as a sidelight to his regular job? Fuches is very much against this because it’s not anonymous enough. He instead suggests painting, rationalizing that “Hitler painted. John Wayne Gacy painted. It’s a good, solid hobby.”

The sheer absurdity of that line, perfectly delivered by the underrated Root, is part of what makes Barry work. The Sopranos and various adaptations of Elmore Leonard’s crime novels likewise have some cockeyed moments amid the carnage. Barry has a tougher tightrope to walk because it also has to sell Hader, let alone Henry “The Fonz” Winkler, in roles that on paper seem unsuited to them. Ask Adam Sandler how difficult this can be.

On the mob side, the surly Pazar’s sidekick is Noho Hank (Anthony Carrigan), whose cue ball head belongs in a side pocket. He’s both ruthless and nonsensical, with ideas that might be rejected by even Moe, Larry and Curly. Not that this ever discourages him.

As Barry weaves its web, two detectives also enter the picture. Moss and Loach (Paula Newsome, John Pirruccello) strive to solve who left three dead bodies in two parked cars at the end of Episode 1. Moss also finds herself the object of Cousineau’s affection, with their odd couple courtship very nicely played while Barry (who’s adapted the stage surname “Block”) tries to make inroads with the career-obsessed Sally. “What a turd of a profession,” Cousineau tells a distraught Sally after she hits another roadblock in Episode 6.

Barry may well not amuse some with its portrayal of Afghanistan war veterans. And we’re not only talking about Barry. You’ll have to see how this develops down the road -- before it all ends bloodily and a little too conveniently.

The series likely wouldn’t have worked with one-hour episodes. But in a half-hour’s time, Barry maximizes its punching power while knowing when and how to drop in a sight gag. These include the corpulent Pazar “working out” on a treadmill while smoking a cigar and Root’s Fuches somehow managing to be laugh-out-loud funny with his exposure of a bruise-blotched torso still healing from a previous beating.

The violence in Barry can also be visceral, particularly in the eventful seventh and eighth episodes. Hader’s character is in a full-tilt hell of his own making at this point. His “acting” within an acting school production of Macbeth doubles as the depth of his torment and his one shining moment.

It hasn’t been easy for male stars of Saturday Night Live to be taken seriously when they try to break from their comedic molds. Bill Murray is one of the very few who has managed fairly well in the long term. Another Bill is now giving it a shot -- both literally and figuratively. Which makes Barry all the more impressive, and even thrilling, when he actually pulls it off.

GRADE: A-minus

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Krypton gives Syfy a long Superman run-up -- but will it fly?


Superman’s grandfather does not want to be left holding the cape. Syfy photo

Premiering: Wednesday, March 21st at 9 p.m. (central) on Syfy
Starring: Cameron Cuffe, Georgina Campbell, Elliot Cowan, Ann Ogbomo, Wallis Day, Rasmus Hardiker, Shaun Sipos, Blake Ritson
Produced by: David S. Goyer, Cameron Welsh

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Fun fact: the planet Krypton apparently used to be part of the United Kingdom.

Save for one, all of the principal cast members of Syfy’s Superman prequel hail from either England or Northern Ireland, which is still part of the UK. And even the lone exception is from Victoria, British Columbia, a onetime British settlement named after Queen Victoria.

All of this makes Krypton decidedly British, in dialect, tone and “period” costuming. There are no castles per se, but plenty of royalty amid all of the flying objects, none of which include the future Man of Steel. Krypton’s special effects are pretty impressive throughout the first five episodes made available for review. But the overall storyline begins to bog down rather badly in the latter hours, making Krypton seem like too much of a slog en route to a seemingly long-in-coming payoff that’s already set in stone. Season One will have 10 episodes in all.

Executive producers Cameron Welsh and David S. Goyer gamely try to insist otherwise in publicity materials. “Our series is not a nostalgic look back,” they say. “In our world of Krypton, the past, present and future is yet to be written -- anything can happen!”

Yeah, but c’mon, guys. Eventually little Superbaby is going to be launched toward Earth just before Krypton explodes. The events preceding this are at best anti-climactic, aren’t they?

At the center of Krypton’s story is 23-year-old Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe), the handsome, chiseled, still single grandfather of Earth’s future Superman. Once part of the House of El, he’s been made “rankless” along with his ill-fated parents. This is because Seg-El’s grandfather, Val-El (Ian McElhinney), dared to defy the fairly despotic Daron-Vex (Elliot Cowan). How so? Val-El insisted that Krypton is “not alone” in the universe, and that other forces were determined to conquer it. He’s executed for this act of treason while his descendants are stripped of their birthrights.

Seg-El witnesses his grandfather’s death as a nine-year-old before Krypton rockets 14 years into the future. He’s still having a rough life, constantly getting pummeled, captured, chased and re-captured. This is nothing compared to what happens to Seg-El in Episode 4. Let’s just say that having a big _____ crawl up your _____ and out your _____ is not something you’d wish even on Lex Luthor.

Krypton also has a lot of women vs. men fights, all of them featuring hard core warrior Alura Zod (Ann Ogbomo) or her warrior-in-training daughter Lyta Zod (Georgina Campbell). “We never ask for mercy. And we never give it,” Alura commands. Point well taken, in the form of a knife stab to Lyta’s hand -- by mom.

Lyta and Daron-Vex’s comely daughter, Nyssa-Vex (Wallis Day), both have the hots for Seg-El. But he’s constantly preoccupied after Adam Strange (Shaun Sipos) somehow arrives from Earth to inform him that someone is trying to destroy Krypton -- namely the very wickedly green Brainiac (a fleetingly seen Blake Ritson). If that should happen prematurely, then Seg-El’s future son, Jor-El, will never become the father of Kal-El -- the future Superman. Otherwise, no pressure.

Krypton also has a supreme potentate known as “Your Eminence” and sometimes, “His Reverence.” Determined to liquidate a resistance force known as Black Zero, he wears a multi-faced gold mask and travels with an escort of handmaidens. But then, in Episode 4 . . . well, this looks like it could be a pivotal development.

Otherwise, the biggest problems with Krypton are all the little developments. The multiple “jeopardy” situations grow tiresome and almost random in time. Seg-El and Lyta Zod tend to be on the receiving ends in a spin cycle of tribulations. Meanwhile, Cowan’s Daron-Vex keeps raging and kvetching without bringing enough presence to his central villain role. Cuffe’s Seg-El is nicer to look at, but basically is still going to acting school. He does emote convincingly, though, when that big ____ crawls up his _____ and out his _____.

Krypton otherwise continues to look good visually, with the bigger your HD screen the better. It’s a big-ticket item for the Syfy network, even if it won’t at all reduce the unemployment percentage among U.S.-born actors/actresses. Even the action figure toys are very likely to be made elsewhere. Way of the world.


Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

CBS' Instinct is groundbreaking while also very much being same old/same old


Alan Cumming goes the procedural crime route in Instinct.

Premiering: Sunday, March 18th at 7 p.m. (central) on CBS
Starring: Alan Cumming, Bojana Novakovic, Naveen Andrews, Daniel Ings, Sharon Leal, Whoopi Goldberg
Produced by: Michael Rauch, Marc Webb, Alex Kurtzman, Heather Kadin, James Patterson, Bill Robinson, Leopoldo Gout, Alan Cumming

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This is the one where Alan Cumming tests his leading man cred as an openly gay, recently married former CIA operative turned novelist turned college professor turned crime solver.

The premise may not sound shopworn. But CBS’ Instinct otherwise is extraordinarily ordinary at best as a midseason replacement for the failed Wisdom of the Crowd.

Cumming, a three-time Emmy nominee for his work in The Good Wife, brings his polished aplomb to the role of Dr. Dylan Reinhart, who dresses dandily and lightly spars with Manhattan detective Lizzie Needham (Bojana Novakovic). They’re thrown together after Dylan’s bestselling book Freaks is used as a “tutorial” by a serial killer who leaves playing cards behind as clues to who he’ll murder next.

Dylan is reluctant to get all stressed out again after marrying a guy named Andy (Daniel Ings) and settling comfortably into life at a Pennsylvania college where he teaches psychopathic behavior. Very oddly, though, he’s in a sense “body shamed” by his book editor, Joan Ross (Whoopi Goldberg in a small recurring role). She deems his latest manuscript flat while calling him “fat.” Joan wants him to “lose a little weight” while at the same time getting his “mojo back” by becoming an amateur sleuth.

Number one, Dylan already looks as slim and trim as Stan Laurel (whom Cumming also somewhat resembles facially). Secondly, Whoopi’s the one who’s made considerable gains, weight wise, since her days as a renegade standup comic. Finally, imagine the “uproar” among some if it were Dylan telling Joan to drop some pounds.

Instead it’s a fretting Dylan asking hubby Andy, “Do you think I’ve put on weight?” No, he doesn’t. It’s all unnecessarily off-putting, in addition to being preposterous.

The lightweight of Instinct, dramatically speaking, is Novakovic as detective Lizzie. Cocksure Dylan needs a more formidable presence to put him in his place. But Lizzie is more pushover than taskmaster. The character needs an acid wash.

Also dropping in is former Lost co-star Naveen Andrews as Julian Cousins. From a secret Manhattan den, he’s still doing surveillance work for the CIA amid a bunch of machines with flashing lights. Dylan periodically calls on him for assistance while Julian pines for his old mate’s return to the fold. “You were the best operative I ever worked with . . . Integrity, loyalty and balls -- you had it all,” he informs Dylan, who doesn’t disagree.

Instinct also enlists Lt. Jasmine Gooden (Sharon Leal) to occasionally bark out orders, deliver pep talks and sometimes commiserate with Lizzie, who of course has a tragic back story. Her fiancé, a fellow detective, was killed in the line of duty just a year ago. And the dog they shared, named Gary, now needs to be put down due to illness, Lizzie sobs. (So much for Gary, who’s seen briefly in Sunday’s premiere hour and then never shown or mentioned again in the additional two episodes made available for review.)

The serial killer whodunit in Episode 1 gives way to the grisly murder of a bloodsucking venture capitalist in Instinct’s next episode. After that comes the fatal gassing of a dozen subway travelers, plus seemingly unrelated killings on a Central Park carousel and in a luxury hotel. This also is the episode in which Dylan’s estranged father makes an extended appearance at the expense of Naveen Andrews’ character, who’s not seen at all.

The killers in the latter two episodes are easily deduced in early scenes and then completed unmasked well before these hours end. That’s a double whammy -- telegraphed identities of murderers followed by too much time spent catching them -- BEFORE THEY CAN STRIKE AGAIN.

Episode 2 also is the one that ends with Dylan prototypically telling Lizzie, “You always follow the rules” before she rejoins, “And you always break them.” Ergo, “we should be partners,” says Lizzie. “Absolutely,” Dylan agrees. Consider it officially done.

The series’ other partnership, between Dylan and Andy, is fleetingly depicted in these three episodes. They’re not yet seen sharing a bed, but are allowed to briefly kiss one another. This is, however, the first time a Big Four broadcast network has presented a crime series whose lead character is gay. So that’s something for the history books. (Cumming also is openly gay.)

Instinct is otherwise unremarkable, sending its characters down familiar rabbit holes without nearly enough style, wit or ingenuity. CBS long has been prime-time’s king of procedural crime series, with Tuesdays and Fridays still profitably devoted entirely to this genre.

Cumming’s talents are ill-used in this one, though. In fact, he would have been better suited to the role of a showy magician turned New York cop shop sleuth. But ABC already has such a series with Deception. It also airs on Sunday nights following two-hour editions of American Idol, which Cumming and company will have to compete against. it could be enough to make Instinct quickly go poof.


Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

The network of musicals strikes again with Rise


Do you hear what they hear? Rosie Perez & Josh Radnor play teachers trying to birth controversial high school musical in Rise. NBC photo

Premiering: Tuesday, March 13th at 9 p.m. (central) on NBC before moving to regular 8 p.m. Tuesday slot
Starring: Josh Radnor, Rosie Perez, Damon J. Gillespie, Auli’l Cravalho, Ted Sutherland, Rarmian Newton, Amy Forsyth, Shirley Rumierk, Joe Tippett, Ellie Desautels, Casey Johnson, Marley Shelton, Shannon Purser, Erin Kommor, Stephanie J. Block, Stephen Plunkett, Mark Tallman, Jennifer Ferrin, Stanley Wayne Mathis, Diallo Riddle, Shannon Thornton
Produced by: Jason Katims, Jeffrey Sellers, Flody Suarez, Michelle Lee

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Avowed musical theater lover Bob Greenblatt has the power to indulge himself as chairman of NBC Entertainment.

He’s regularly done so with live holiday season productions (The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, The Wiz, Hairspray) and the Broadway-set series Smash, which ran for two seasons and wound up on the wrong side of reviews after initial critical praise.

Now here comes Rise, a 10-episode series in which a frustrated high school English teacher attempts to walk on the wild side by directing an adaptation of Spring Awakening, a Tony Award-winning musical exploration of teen angst and sexuality inspired by an 1891 German play.

NBC made the entire first season available for review. Mission accomplished, with both pleasure and frustration.

On the plus side, Rise has the power to uplift, inspire and open tear ducts. But it’s also marred by too much utterly predictable conflict escalation/resolution and an over-abundance of sappy-soft mood music that seems to be at war with the vibrant, full-blooded numbers from Spring Awakening.

Principal executive producer Jason Katims was also the driving force behind NBC’s exemplary Friday Night Lights. The series turned Texas stereotypes upside down by injecting sensibilities -- rather than yahoos -- into its collection of small-town high school students. Rise also has a football storyline, with sensitive star quarterback Robbie Thorne (Damon J. Gillespie) struggling to time-share after being talked into playing the co-lead in Spring Awakening.

Katims, who helmed NBC’s Parenthood between FNL and Rise, seems to have found a growing comfort level with unabashed sentimentality. He can still be very good at this, sustaining rooting interests throughout Rise while also investing it with just about every hot button social issue imaginable -- except in this instance, gun control.

The marquee protagonist is veteran teacher Lou Mazzauchelli (Josh Radnor from How I Met Your Mother), who’s modeled after the real-life Lou Volpe from the 2013 book Drama High. The setting has been shifted from Levittown to Stanton, PA (shortened from New Stanton), where Lou is fed up with his listless students’ inattention. Tom Joad? Snore.

Badly in need of a booster shot, Lou impulsively volunteers to head the school’s underfunded theater department, even though dedicated Tracey Wolfe (Rosie Perez) already is in the midst of putting on another production of Grease. That’s the problem, in Lou’s view. Theater should be daring and kids need to be challenged. So let’s rock this straitlaced burg to the core with an explicit production that includes same-sex kissing, parental abuse, spanking with a switch and raw language (which is more implied than heard because NBC censors still forbid f-bombs).

A sprawling cast of teens eventually warms to the task, making Glee seem kind of under-populated.

Lilette Suarez (Auli’l Cravalho), whose “slutty” waitress mom, Vanessa (Shirley Rumierk), has been sleeping with football coach Doug Strickland (Joe Tippett), is a previously untapped talent who gets the co-lead role opposite Robbie. While they fall in love, prima donna Gwen Strickland (Amy Forsyth) festers about being passed over. As does her costume-designing mom, Denise (Jennifer Ferrin).

Another musical star player, sexually conflicted Simon Saunders (Ted Sutherland), likewise is vexed about getting a smaller, supporting part that includes a boy-on-boy kissing scene with the openly gay Jeremy (Sean Grandillo). Simon’s deeply religious parents, Robert and Patricia (Stephen Plunkett, Stephanie J. Block), have no intention of letting him proceed and want to kill the play altogether. But Dad turns out to have a secret of his own as part of Rise’s most ham-handed sub-plot. The Saunders also have a daughter with Down’s Syndrome who idolizes her brother. They have a handful of affecting scenes, with Simon always calming and reassuring her.

Other members of the Spring Awakening troupe include transgender Michael/Margaret Hallowell (Ellie Desautels); plus-sized Annabelle (Shannon Purser); promiscuous Sasha (Erin Kommor) and lighting director Maashous Evers (Rarmian Newton), a foster kid who ends up being Rise’s most appealing student character.

Back home, Lou and his wife, Gail (Marley Shelton), aren’t sure what to do anymore with their hard-drinking, insolent son, Gordy (Casey Johnson). Lou also faces increased opposition at school from the football coach and rock-ribbed principal Even Ward (solid work by Stanley Wayne Mathis). Meanwhile, Lilette’s mom continues to endure unwanted sexual touching by Anton (Nikolai Tsankov), coarse owner of Sparky’s Diner.

The strongest performance among the adults is from Perez, whose feisty Tracey otherwise leads a cloistered, sexless life. Trying to help -- when he’s not clashing with her -- Lou persuades goodly biology teacher Andy Kranepool (Diallo Riddle) to ask Tracey out. This doesn’t go well, before it does. But Rise then drops this whole storyline without explanation.

Meet two more parents. Robbie’s father, Detrell (Mark Tallman), is prototypically obsessed with having his son achieve football stardom after he couldn’t quite cut it. His saintly mom, Yvonne (Shannon Thornton), on whom Robbie dotes, is hospitalized with ACLS. He visits her often and they have some sweet scenes together while Detrell has taken up with a younger woman.

Rise no doubt will offend conservatives who view it as another force-feeding of Hollywood liberalism. But its main offense may be a complete lack of “never saw that coming” surprises. Instead you’re going to see just about everything coming, including a denouement that nonetheless is rousing because of the sheer power of the kids’ performances and commitment.

Rise doesn’t elevate to the heights of Friday Night Lights with either its storytelling or performances. But it’s heartfelt from start to finish while also offering an overall feel-good respite from television’s ongoing obsessions with “true crime” and all things Trump. Wishing it would have been better is by no means a deal breaker. There are enough high notes to ensure that.


Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net