This Week in Black Television - Laurence Fishburne in "Hannibal", Quality Issues in "The Game" & "The Walking Dead" Season Finale
Photo Credit: S & A
Television

This Week in Black Television - Laurence Fishburne in "Hannibal", Quality Issues in "The Game" & "The Walking Dead" Season Finale

null

Welcome

back to This Week in Black Television.  This week we’re covering the return of The Game, the debut of Laurence Fishburne in the new TV drama Hannibal, and other significant television goings-on with members of the Black community.


Sorry for the extended absence of this column from the ‘site, but between my film festival New Voices in Black Cinema and other

film-centric duties I’ve been a bit distracted, but have returned. 

I wrote

separately about the return of The Game last week and whether Pooch

Hall was indeed back or not as running back Derwin Davis.  And I was right, he was just back for the

first episode as he indeed did get traded to the Baltimore – what he wanted but

was saddened that the only adult life he knew – as a San Diego Saber – was done

and over with.   This NYC-based episode

led Derwin to have a trite brawl with the draft pick that he was traded for,

Bryce ‘Blue’ Edwards played by charming newcomer Jay Ellis that turned into a

teary (mostly his tears and probably the female fans that watch the show) goodbye

for his character.  This well-acted but

oversexed return of The Game, indeed

the 100th episode of the series, introduced us to the rookie sensation Blue, as

well as Keira Whitaker, a child-star turned unemployed actress trying to gain

back a career played wonderfully and surprisingly maturely by Lauren

London.  Though the eventual couple at

first meeting sweetly, their next encounters become awkward then downright

embarrassing. 

The

season opener also saw another breakdown in quarterback Malik’s (Hosea Chancez)

sobriety after realizing he has no power within the Saber organization or in

football in general, that he’s just a cog in the system, just to have him

bounce back after a pep talk from his cousin and confidant TeeTee (Barry Floyd),

and Tasha (Wendy Raquel Robinson) encountering her ex-boo Rick Fox despite her

supposed love for Pookie, played by Rockmond Dunbar.  **WARNING

– THERE ARE EPISODE 2 SPOILERS

FROM THIS PART ON **. This week we see that Tasha did indeed sleep with

Rick Fox, who in some respects is the love of her life, but she denies that

feeling in a rachtet-like behavior filled conversation with Pookie while Rick

is still in her hotel bed.  Yeah, I felt

silly even writing that entire line. 

This whole episode saw a great departure in writing and emotional

connection from the previous one as it focused squarely on Tasha and her

immaturity in dealing with relationships and love.  Despite the gullible Pookie falling for

another of her emotional and badly acted tirades to cover up her infidelity, he

ends up proposing to her and she accepts – then runs out hours later to chat,

then sleep with in her car, Mr. Rick Fox – only to be caught afterwards by

Chardonnay (Brandy Norwood).  Meanwhile,

in something that happens only on TV in a decent-sized town like San Diego,

Keira continues to run into Blue at the club, the supermarket, and he even

moves into her building. Though she’s still upset at him for sleeping with her

friend, R&B singer Ciara, despite the bond they were building they make a

turn toward reconciliation at episode’s end. 

I can sometimes accept the sitcom like coincidences that occur here, but

the fact that they have to play things this way is what’s frustrating about The

Game and their deus ex machina story devices even when the show has so

many liberties to be better and to do better.  

I should add that both The Game

and the sitcom that follows it, Let’s

Stay Together, have been renewed for 2014 already, which is fantastic news

for the cast and crew and hopefully, the viewing audience as well.

Meanwhile

this past Sunday The Walking Dead had their season finale, directed by no other

than Ernest Dickerson, who is

underrated as a director for some brilliantly coordinated action scenes like

the one that opened up the show.  As well

written as the dialogue was in this season ender, drawing strong comparisons

between the Governor and Carl’s similar world views when it comes to killing and

death, The Walking Dead is also one

of the – if not currently the most – badly conceived shows when it comes to

portraying and highlighting non-white male characters. For the sake of this

forum, I’m talking about Michonne and Tyreese. 

Frankly, though the fanboys and others laud her, I’m sick

of Dania Gurira’s portrayal of Michonne. I know the comics aren’t the same as

the television show, they really don’t have to be, but the Black characters are

so passive as compared to their comic book versions, most especially in

comparison to the White lead characters like Rick, Darryl and even Merle. 

Bad as

that is with Michonne, often made to sartorially appear slave-like and bending

to the will of Rick and Merle and even young little Carl (which I don’t

contribute directly to the actress but to the writers and directors), its even

worse with the wasted use of a good actor like Chad L. Coleman as Tyreese. In the

books he’s the first person aside from Shane who was a real challenge, or you

can even say alternate, for leadership among their group. He’s level-headed,

smart, strong and resourceful. On the television version, Tyreese upon closer

examination has the first two attributes, but with barely existing scenes, none

of which have much weight beyond his refusal this last episode to leave with

The Governor, did not have much to show on proving it.  Coleman has been added to the main cast for

next season, as has Sonequa Martin-Green as Sasha (who plays his sister on the

show instead of his daughter as the books portray). I should add that Martin-Green

is also appearing on Sunday’s other most guilty-pleasure show (no, I’m not

talking about the corny The Client List

which no longer co-stars Naturi Naughton but does still have Loretta Divine as

a regular as well as Michael Beach, Tammy Townsend, Leonard Roberts and

Jowharah Jones (the original Nico Slater from Ugly Betty) in guest roles) Once

Upon A Time as the kinda confusingly motivated but well-played villain

Tamara.  I think the sharp eyebrows lend

to her bad-azz attitude. 

Speaking

of villains, the new NBC drama Hannibal premiered last night.  In a new story that shows the backstory about

how FBI profiler Will Graham came to know and be initially mentored by Dr.

Hannibal “(the eventually known) Cannibal” Lecter, played deliciously (yes, I

said it!) by Mads Mikkelsen who most viewers know best as the Bond baddie from 2006’s

Casino Royale but should know better

from Nicholas Winding Refn’s chillingly fantastic Valhalla Rising (it’s on Netflix!). 

I only bring up Hannibal here because, aside from having a hauntingly

good first episode the show also stars S&A fave Laurence Fishburne as FBI

Special Agent Jack Crawford, the head of the bureau’s Behavioral Crimes

Unit.  In a role originated on the silver

screen by Dennis Farina (Manhunter),

then Scott Glenn (The Silence of the

Lambs) and Harvey Keitel (in the forgettable Red Dragon), Fishburne holds his own as the suspicious and

strongly-determined Agent Crawford, going to major lengths to solve the initial

murder by relying on the overly-sensitive Graham (played by Hugh Dancy) and Lecter

to help.  The great thing about the

potential of this series is that it will give viewers, and fans of the movies

and the original Thomas Harris novels, a chance to explore the minds of Graham,

Lecter and Crawford more deeply than the films ever could.  I for one always look forward to seeing

Fishburne in anything – I feel he excels in episodic TV as he gets to expand

his role more than a film’s two hours allow. 

There

were some nice nods to history in the premiere episode.  If you didn’t know, William Petersen from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation starred

in the original novel adaptation Manhunter

as Will Graham. His CSI character Gil Grissom is the one who recruited

Fishburne’s character Dr. Ray Langston to be on his team before Petersen

departed CSI.  When they first appeared on screen, Grissom

appears in Langston’s lecture room as he’s talking about criminal pathology to

his students. In fair play, Fishburne’s Jack Crawford did the same upon

recruiting Dancy’s Will Graham to join his team in the Hannibal pilot.  So three

different generations of the movie and TV investigators met in the same way,

just in different shows. 

Lastly,

a solemn good-by should be paid to newscaster Bob Teague upon his passing last week at the age of 84. As one of

this nation’s first African-American TV reporters, locally in NYC for WNBC

channel 4 and occasionally nationwide for NBC, he was hired in 1963 from The

New York Times.  I personally barely

remember Teague but I knew him more by reputation, and his legacy as a

broadcaster and stance as a trailblazer should be rightly acknowledged.See his obituary by Brian Williams below.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Next

week I’ll examine Chi McBride’s role on CBS’s newest cop show Golden Boy, catch you up on BET’s Let’s Stay Together (which I’ll just say

for now has somewhat steadily improved) as well as other key Black TV

happenings.   

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.

© 2023 Shadow & Act. All rights reserved.