The Light from the TV Shows: It’s Time to Take Another Trip to “The Glades”

Although I’ve been a regular attendee of the Television Critics Association press tour in my stead as a writer and senior editor for Bullz-Eye.com, I don’t really get the opportunity to attend all that many press junkets, so on those occasions when I do find myself on the sets of various TV shows, I tend to kind of bask in the uniqueness of the experience. (Maybe it’s just because I have a history of being easily amused, but I find that, no matter how many sets you visit, if you don’t do it regularly, it still manages to be a pretty cool experience every single time.)

Earlier this year, I was invited on a rare joint junket between two different networks—A&E and USA—to do meet-and-greets and Q&As with the casts of “The Glades,” which returns to A&E this evening for its fourth season, and “Graceland,” a new USA drama which bows on June 6. Both series film in the general vicinity of Miami, so the first day of the expedition was spent on the set of the latter, with the next day dedicated to the former. Rest assured that I’ll be filling you in on “Graceland” soon enough, but for the moment, let’s focus on “The Glades,” shall we?

TheGladesCast

Given that the series is, as noted, about to kick off its fourth season, there’s a fair chance you’re already familiar with “The Glades,” but for those who either only know of it or haven’t even got that much history with it, here’s the nutshell summary from the A&E homepage for the series:

Jim Longworth (Matt Passmore) is an attractive and brilliant Chicago homicide detective with a reputation for being difficult. When his captain wrongfully accuses him of sleeping with his wife and shoots him, he is exiled and forced to relocate. He lands in the sleepy, middle-of-nowhere town of Palm Glade, outside of the Florida Everglades, where sunshine and golf are plentiful and crime is seemingly at a minimum. But Longworth soon finds out this town isn’t quite as idyllic as he originally thought, when murders keep piling up. Each case pulls Longworth off the golf course and reluctantly into his element as one of the sharpest homicide detectives to wear a badge.

Season 4 is packed with even more mystery, intrigue, and fun. From haunted plantations to rum-soaked shot girls and even a zombie apocalypse, Longworth is once again solving murders that can only happen in the Sunshine State. This season also promises more drama on the personal front for Longworth, Carlos (Carlos Gomez), Manus (Michelle Hurd), and Daniel (Jordan Wall) as friends and relatives from near and far arrive on the scene. But the big question remains to be answered as Longworth waits for Callie (Kiele Sanchez) to accept his marriage proposal, or not.

If I’m to be honest, the pointed use of the word “attractive” as a descriptor of the main character in any series immediately makes me suspicious that it’s something that’s going to tickle my fancy—I can’t recall any occasion when I’ve been sold on a show because I was assured in advance that its cast was going to be good-looking—but “The Glades” has been a hard-to-dislike show since its debut. Yeah, I know, that’s kind of damning it with faint praise, but I really do intend it as a compliment: there are a lot of series that are very easy to dislike, but the show’s cast is pretty darned likeable across the board. Okay, maybe the aforementioned Jim Longworth is a bit too smug for his own good sometimes, but, hey, when you’re that attractive and brilliant…

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Weekly Web Series Review: Blue

Julia Stiles stars as the title character in “Blue,” a new web series produced by the YouTube channel Wigs, which is described as “a digital channel producing high-end, original, scripted dramatic series and short films about the lives of women.” “Blue” certainly fits this bill, as it has high, network-standard production values and explores the life of Francine, aka Blue (Stiles), a single mother who works in an office and moonlights as a prostitute. We are introduced to her in the middle of serving a client, Cooper (David Harbour), who turns out to be an old acquaintance from high school. Cooper has more than a simple professional interest in her, and there is speculation that he might be the father of her 13-year-old son, Josh (Uriah Shelton).

Josh is a precocious, A-student who is beginning to be curious about sex and who is too smart not to know that his mother is hiding something about herself from him, though he is not yet sure what. He befriends Cooper, seeming to need a father figure in his life to complement the good relationships he has with his mother and his grandmother, Jessica (Kathleen Quinlan), a sexy older woman prone to over-sharing about her love life. Meanwhile, beginning in the third episode, Blue has an oddly mentor-like relationship with her office co-worker, Lavinia (Sarah Paulson), who looks up to her, thinking Blue really has her life together. Lavinia seeks Blue’s advice about her relationship with her ex-husband, Walter (so far unseen), who seems to be using her for financial support due to his ailing health.

The series is created, written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia, who is known for his work on feature films like “Mother and Child” and last year’s “Albert Nobbs,” as well as television series such as HBO’s “The Sopranos” and “Six Feet Under,” the latter of which has a similarly soap opera feel to it. The first season runs 12 episodes, each around eight minutes long, which means the entire first season is roughly the length of a relatively short feature film, and each episode is basically a single long scene, or two shorter, connected ones. Some of these work better than others; while Blue and Josh have great chemistry and really good dialogue in the second episode, and a subplot involving Josh’s troubles at school in the tenth and eleventh episodes is especially interesting, I have to admit I have very little interest in the relationship between Blue and Lavinia. Paulson is a very good actor, but her character is sort of weak and whiny, and it remains to be seen if her subplot will garner more interest. On the other hand, the first season ends with an intriguing development involving an older man from Blue’s past, and fans of soapy drama will definitely want to tune in for new episodes once they become available.

  

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