This (PAST) Week In Black Television
Photo Credit: S & A
Television

This (PAST) Week In Black Television

null**This was originally supposed to post

over a week ago, but due to technical difficulties with my S&A account it

sadly could not.**  This week we focus on the BET Network sitcom Let’s Stay

Together and the return of NBC’s Revolution after a long hiatus. 

I’ve ragged a lot on the Jacque Edmonds Cofer (Living

Single, Reed Between The Lines) executive produced Let’s Stay

Together in the

past year plus of this column, about how the acting is often stiff, the

situations flat-out silly and the comedy

inconsistent and non-existent. All

that said, there were also traces of quality within, something that the writers

and cast seem to have taken a hold of in Season 3. 

Last season ended with Charles (Burt Belasco) trying to

prevent his still-newlywed wife Stacy, played by Nadine Ellis, from

seeing the

episode of the always-entertaining Cheaters that he appears on when they caught

his childhood friend kissing him. 

The statuesque Kali Hawk plays the friend Connie, who began leaning on

Charles after her separation from her husband. 

Needless to say, Charles sister Kita and cousin Crystal

ensure she sees the show, really just because they like it, and by the next

scene – weeks later – Charles remains in the dog house.  Stacy actually could tell that it

wasn’t serious, but is more upset he

even put himself in that situation as she

never trusted Connie, and for embarrassing her to a high degree as she’s a

respected

pediatrician in Atlanta, who for a doctor spends a lot of time at

home. 

Charles tries everything to make up for it, but Stacy

doesn’t feel redemption until her sister Tasha, played rambunctious actress

Joyful Drake, Kita, and Crystal convince Stacy she needs to confront Connie,

and they do so at their hangout spot – which

apparently is the only place in

Atlanta they all ever go.  When the

stiff and non-street credentialed Stacy attempts to curse, and

maybe even try

to beat up Connie, the cheater apologizes to her profusely and Connie’s husband

meets her there letting them

all know ‘Cheaters’ made them get back together.  Written this sounds pretty cheesy, it

played out nicely, and amusingly, due to

the heartbroken but sweet demeanor in

which Nadine Ellis plays Stacy. 

Ellis herself is an underrated beauty, and even though

its obvious her

acting should be more important than her looks, her lack of acting during the

first season was one of the low

points of the show, and she’s made a 180 degree

turn in that as both she and Belasco as Charles play really well off of each

other now, as they do off the others, being the true anchors of this ensemble

show.  I’m not saying the show is

perfect, but it has gotten a lot better, and frankly, actually watchable. As

far as the beauty part, unfortunately that’s the point of shows like Let’s

Stay

Together and the show that precedes it over the past three seasons The Game.

The look of the characters, their well-

fashioned and coiffed sartorial

displays, is what makes certain people fans of the show. And let’s be very real

about it, no

matter if it’s Let’s Stay Together, or 20 years ago on A Different

World, or 40 years ago on That’s My Mama – we enjoy when

Black folks look good on screen! To finish this point, Ellis is a dark-skinned, phenotypically Black

woman, and having her on-screen weekly when the unfortunate truth is that many

dark-skinned actresses are not too often considered leading women is

justice. 

I should mention the significant subplots on LTS.  Jamal, played by RonReaco Lee, was the

best known of the show’s leads as he made his debut years ago on ABC’s Sister,

Sister and has been a hard-working actor every since.  He still remains the best

actor on the show, as his lines

and delivery are not usually as forced as his peers own are, a testament to his

skill and demeanor.  The

aforementioned Tasha is Jamal’s wife who previously was involved – and after

their marriage was pursued on mercilessly by her hunky ex-boyfriend Troy

(Christian Keyes), who at last season’s finale was forced to drive back to

Atlanta with Tasha

after bad weather grounded all planes in Savannah (coincidentally,

as I’m writing this I’m thinking I’ve never seen Drake in anything else, then

of all the movies to turn to on TV I see her on Oxygen playing Mo’nique’s sassy

cousin in the farcical Phat

Girlz). Thankfully nothing happened between them as

she keeps her husband on the phone the entire time they’re in the car, in a

funny but that had Jamal keeping an eye on him using ‘Facetime’ (but dang

Tasha’s battery lasted a long time on that ride!).

Nonetheless, the subplot

with him is (mostly) resolved, leading the writers to focus on attorney Jamal,

now in business for himself, swooning and eventually landing a new client that

unbeknownst to him is a relocated gangster from Alabama, played by a now rotund

and almost unrecognizable Reggie Hayes who played William Dent for eight

seasons in the hit TV show

Girlfriends

After working for him for weeks, in this past Tuesday’s episode Jamal

extracts himself from the increasingly

dangerous man’s employ, and hopefully

for his family’s sake the now-imprisoned gangster will stay away – but know he won’t.

We also have Charles’ cousin the college student Crystal,

played by still baby-faced Kyla Pratt (One On One, Love and

Basketball) who at

first temporarily replaced series regular Kita, sister of Charles and loud-mouthed

trouble-maker whose role was to cause dissension and distraction amongst the

couples, played by Erica Hubbard who at that point was on maternity

leave but

returned partly into the previous season. 

In last season’s finale Crystal discovered that her well-mannered

football

player boyfriend (no, not a musketeer) Darkainian is gay when his

boyfriend comes to his apartment, where she was staying to study for

school.  Livid at him, she barely

registers when Darkanian comes to explain to her that because of the atmosphere

surrounding gay men in sports that he cannot ‘come out of the closet.  He asks Crystal to maintain the facade

of their dating and after prodding from Kita, gets him to give her lifestyle of

luxury – which in this week’s episode Kita takes over-advantage of.  

Meanwhile Kita is hard-at-work on

getting in shape to become a police office, and ends up getting at first

unwanted, then very much desired, help from Troy at the local gym and despite

protestations because of his pursuit of the married Tasha, begins

dating him on

the sly. 

I maintain that the frustrating thing about this show is

that I feel the actors have a lot more in them. I don’t believe that TV is a

wasteland for actors of merit, but I’d love to see all the members of this potentially

talented cast spread their wings onto other

projects. Hubbard we have seen in four seasons of the family drama Lincoln Heights, so she’s proven she

can flex, but I’d

love to see Lee, Ellis and Pratt especially do so. I see

something in them.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten off my high-horse, lets review

what’s been going on since the return of the post-apocalyptic drama Revolution,

which stars S&A fave Giancarlo Esposito as well as Billy Burke (Miles),

Tracy Spiridakos (Charlie), Daniella

Alonso (Nora) and LOST’s Elizabeth

Mitchell (Rachel), and JD Pardo (Jason Neville).   After the ragtag group of Charlie,

Miles, Aaron and

Nora have finally escaped from the Monroe Republic along with Charlie’s

kidnapped brother Danny

(Graham ‘Can I get a hot tub!’ Rogers), who they came

for, and the sibling’s mother Rachel, who they had no idea was alive,

they

split up into two groups: Rachel and Miles who go off to get weapons from one

of her old tech buddies that helped her

develop the weapons that shut off power

to the entire world, and Nora takes the rest to her rebel camp to warn them

about the

electricity generated weapons and helicopters that the power

mad General Monroe (David Lyons) now possesses thanks to his

interrogation of

Rachel through Danny.  Rachel and

Miles are successful in getting the weapons, but not before a double-cross from

her friend John (the always-underrated character actor Leland Orser) which they

narrowly escape from, since Miles

always narrowly escapes from

everything including missile fire (How? Hide in a meat locker/restaurant style

refrigerator). 

Meanwhile, Charlie and Danny barely have time to enjoy

being reunited and instead help Nora and her rebel troops, including her leader

and old ‘friend’ Nicholas (Derek Webster), prepare for Monroe’s

helicopters.  While Miles and

Rachel return in the middle of the rebels getting lit by helicopter-propelled

machine guns, by time he preps the rocket launcher he for once can’t

escape its

fire.  Danny grabs the rocket

launcher, somehow figures out how to shoot it in :10 seconds, and destroys the

helicopter that knocked Miles out. But while he revels in his victory, the other

whirlybird evades fire from the other rebels and shoots Danny down, killing him

and making their prior mission technically a waste of time, which angered fans

of the show to no end.  On the

Black folks front, Monroe Republic Captain Tom Neville, played sternly but

sympathetically – at least when it comes to his family – by Giancarlo Esposito,

is once-again confronted by his reluctant solider son Jason who once again

refuses to follow orders.  They

fight, and Tom beats the crap out of his son but doesn’t kill him as he would a

Republic soldier who disobeys an order, but excommunicates him from his family

and the Republic.   At

episodes end we also see the return of Randall Flynn, who earlier in the season

kidnapped Grace Beaumont (Maria Howell, The Color Purple) one of Rachel’s

scientist buddies along with John who knows how to temporarily get back power

and is forced to work with Flynn who seeks

an alliance with Monroe in order to

rule America, and eventually the world. 

In the next few episodes we learn that Flynn, played

villainously by Colm Feore (The Chronicles of Riddick) worked for the

Department of Defense and after losing his son in the post-9/11 war in Iraq

became vengeful and was the one who eventually

plunged the world in

darkness.  Meanwhile the group

buries Danny and join Nora’s rebel group full-time.  First order of

business is for Miles to get his former

lieutenants who helped him almost succeed in killing Monroe (for this unaware,

Miles

was once the dictator Monroe’s right hand man until he saw he was

becoming despotic) back together in order to train the

rebels how to really

fight. The first in line isn’t too far away, and that’s Jim Hudson who is

living in a bucolic town that feels

like a modern-day Upstate New York

town.  Hudson, portrayed by Malik

Yoba, is under a fake name and has totally purged of

his former life and happy

to be married to a quiet woman and running the town library.  Unfortunately, the Republic finds out

Miles is there and are on their way to the town and willing to raze it to find

Miles.  Hudson joins the fight to

make the soldiers

to stay away, and in a bloody battle he, Miles and Nora kill

or maim them all – except for their leader who sees a concerned

woman – Hudson’s wife – in a house looking at him, and goes after her.  Hudson succeeds in killing the leader,

but his wife is

frightened of seeing him like this and he decides he cannot

fully escape who he really is and returns with Miles to help the

rebels.

 photo MailkYobainRevolution_zps0e3c2cfb.jpg

Meanwhile, in this past Monday’s episode Monroe gives the

recently fallible Tom Neville a final chance to make things right and puts him

in charge of picking up an important but mysterious payload.  Neville and a compliment of soldiers

drive down to spot, and in a rare moment of levity now that he has a vehicle

with power Neville is grooving along to Lionel Richie jams, but then his

vehicle is blown up by incendiaries planted by the rebels.  His truck flips over, and he is the only

one left alive, but is

taken prisoner by Miles and company.  They try torturing Neville, which is

really where Esposito shines as he gets to play both mouse and cat with his

interrogators, chuckling, as he knows Rachel wants to kill him as well for

kidnapping Danny.  It isn’t

until

unfortunate son Jason, who is now working with the rebels, comes speak to him

that he breaks down, telling him to help

him escape so that they both can go

finish the task Neville set him out on so that Monroe won’t indeed kill her

since he messed up the mission. 

Jason lets him out of the chains, but it was all a double-cross so that

the rebels could find out where Capt.

Neville was going in the first

place.  As Miles, Jason and Charlie

trace down the lead, Neville asks for redemption and his last

rites read to him from

rebel leader and former minister Nicholas.  But he has is own double-cross in mind as well, and when

Nicholas turns him down, Neville escapes from his bonds, and kills Nicholas by

stabbing him slowly through the chest (see

below) – which more than anything

shows audiences that in true fantasy/sci-fi TV drama that you can’t have more

than two-to-

three Black men or characters as cast/recurring characters last an

entire episode, much less multiple ones. 

 photo DerekWebsterinRevolution_zpsff9e9378.jpg

I wanted to cover Chi McBride in the new show Golden Boy

this week as promised, but with multiple episodes of the above

shows to break

down I want to give that show its own due, so look for that (I extra

promise-promise) next week along with

coverage once again of The Game, and

catch you up with the finally funny character of Winston in New Girl. If there

is

anything you would like me to cover that I’m missing, please let me know below

or by hitting me up on Twitter.

Follow Shadow and Act’s This Week in Black Television

contributor Curtis Caesar John on Twitter (@MediaManWatch) and check out his

film blog, 

brotherfromadifferentworld.tumblr.com

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

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