Latest Reelz "original" is the Canadian import Bomb Girls
09/10/12 01:26 PM
Premiering: Tuesday, Sept. 11th at 9 p.m. (central) on Reelz
Starring: Meg Tilly, Jodi Balfour, Charlotte Hegele, Anastasia Phillips, Ali Liebert, Antonio Cupo, Sebastian Pigott, Peter Outerbridge, Lisa Norton, James McGowan, Kate Hennig
Produced by: Michael MacLennan, Adrienne Mitchell
By ED BARK
Still little known and lesser seen, Reelz very much aspires to be AMC someday.
All it would take is its very own Mad Men. Or Breaking Bad. Or maybe even The Walking Dead. That would be nice, too.
The still fledgling network takes another step in the vicinity of that direction with Bomb Girls, a passable World War II era drama that's being touted as a "Reelz Original," even though it's a Canadian-made series that premiered in that country last January.
Reelz first got on the map with The Kennedys, which it happily picked up last year after History Channel rejected the finished product as unfit for its "brand." Ten Emmy nominations and four wins later, Reelz felt pretty good about that one.
Bomb Girls lacks both a notable cast -- Greg Kinnear, Katie Holmes and Tom Wilkinson were in The Kennedys -- and a pre-sold audience lure. Its best-known cast member is Meg Tilly, who was Oscar-nominated for Agnes of God and can still bring home a scene or two as the puffy, pale "floor matron" of Toronto's Victory Munitions bomb-making factory.
Tilly's character, Lorna Corbett, is called on to be hard and soft in the role. She's also bereft of a sex life, with her husband, Bob (Peter Outerbridge), both mentally and physically scarred by his World War I experiences. He's not abusive but drinks heavily and has no interest in Lorna's bedroom offensives.
Unfortunately, Bomb Girls is affixed with an oft-overwrought and at times just plain clunky script. As when Lorna initially recoils at a proposed factory suggestions box. "You're playin' with fire," she emotes during Episode 2. "That's dangerous sport in this tinder box."
Lorna's featured assembly line workers are a quartet of pretty typical types. Wrong side of the tracks, poor little rich girl, tart-talking flirt, etc. One of them even says, "It's no big whoop." Which hadn't quite entered the vernacular back in 1941. OK, let's meet the girls.
***Kate Andrews (Charlotte Hegel) is on the lam from a demonic preacher father who has left her back criss-crossed with scars and her psyche very fragile.
***Gladys Witham (Jodi Balfour) is the silk-stocking daughter who's determined to do right while her sneering, imperial parents, wealthy parents keep slapping her down .
***Vera Burr (Anastasia Phillips) is a flirtatious blonde looker who's not going to look so hot by the end of Tuesday's opening episode. And Betty McRae (Ali Liebert) appears to be interested in Kate as more than just a friend.
The men of Bomb Girls tend to be louses or misfits, although the studly Marco Moretti (Antonio Cupo) seems to be a halfway decent sort whose Italian heritage is being held against him during wartime. As a red-blooded male, though, he happily joins his factory pals in looking through a peep hole into the women's shower.
Bomb Girls for the most part unfolds predictably, at least in its first two episodes. But a WWII munitions factory mostly populated by women at least is a change-of-pace setting. And some of the characters, particularly Tilly's, seem as though they might be worth a viewer's time as the series marches forward.
Reelz so far has only committed to a six-episode first season. That was supposed to be the extent of Bomb Girls, but a 12-episode Season 2 was ordered after it caught on in Canada. Production re-started this month in Toronto and is scheduled to wrap at the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Reelz perhaps someday will ramp up with its own genuine "original." In that respect, Bomb Girls is another shell game.