NY TIMES – For decades, television has been cop, judge, jury and jailer. Police and courtroom dramas are a mainstay; a few series, like “Orange Is the New Black,” have explored prison life. But “Rectify,” a drama entering its final season on SundanceTV on Wednesday, is exceptional in being concerned with what comes after prison, for ex-convicts, for their families, for an entire community.
In the first episode of the new season, Daniel Holden (Aden Young), who has been released from prison after 19 years, describes what the incarceration did to him. “When you are alone with yourself all the time,” he says, “you begin to go deeper and deeper into yourself until you lose yourself.”
“Rectify,” created by Ray McKinnon, is a small series; it has shown a mere 22 episodes in three seasons and will have eight in its final run. But by focusing on a small world and pacing itself deliberately, it manages to be both intimate and expansive.
Slowing down time — the first season takes place over about a week — “Rectify” is a meditative work of reconstruction, with a visual sense of wonder, as if the camera, too, had been released into the world after two decades staring at four walls.
The series begins with Daniel’s return home to the fictional Paulie, Ga., after DNA evidence vacates his conviction for the rape and murder of his high school girlfriend, Hanna Dean. He’s free but not exonerated, and he finds himself unequipped for freedom. Having spent his entire adult life under a regime, he’s paralyzed by simple things like a visit to a big-box store.
The show traces his transition, and that of his family: his mother, Janet (J. Smith-Cameron), who resents the years lost with her son; his sister, Amantha (Abigail Spencer), who fiercely defends Daniel’s innocence; his stepbrother, Teddy (Clayne Crawford), who doubts him; and Teddy’s wife, Tawney (Adelaide Clemens), a deeply religious woman whose sympathy for Daniel draws her close to him and drives a wedge between herself and her husband.
This wonderful series — wrapping up its run with its new season — understands the South in a way TV rarely does.
In the deeply emotional Sundance family drama, Young plays Daniel Holden, a newly exonerated death row inmate who re-enters society after nearly two decades in prison. On the day his wife called looking for him, he’d found the character hard to shake and had been standing on a street corner for four hours; as Young recounts the experience, it’s with the wry smirk he wears even when telling the most devastating story imaginable.
“I couldn’t move,” he says. “I was petrified that I was going to fall over. I was absolutely fine. I was healthy. My kids were healthy. I had a beautiful wife. For the first time in my career, I think, I even managed to pay off one of the credit cards. And yet Daniel was there, just going, ‘Don’t move. It all hurts, and if you move, it will hurt more.’ Like when you have a bad back. I was afraid to turn my head. I was afraid I would see through the façade.”
It sounds weird, I know — like the kind of mystical mumbo jumbo actors sometimes tell reporters to make themselves sound profound. But I know from having talked to Young several times over the course of Rectify’s run — the show’s fourth and final season debuts on Sundance Wednesday, October 26 — that he takes this character and this world seriously. And not in a self-important or self-involved way; that’s just the effect Rectify has on those involved in it, and its tiny coterie of devoted fans.
Young’s solution to his Daniel problem was simple: Build the character a guesthouse in his head where Daniel could go to live in between seasons.
“I knew he was there. I’d occasionally take him things, but I wouldn’t see him. Then Sundance would email me, and I’d go and check on him,” he says.
ASSIGNMENT X – Clayne Crawford is having a wonderful fall season. The actor from Alabama stars in Fox Networks’ new Wednesday-night action series LETHAL WEAPON, which premiered September 21. Based on the feature film franchise, LETHAL WEAPON has Crawford cast as dangerously daredevil – and heartbroken – L.A.P.D. cop Martin Riggs, opposite Damon Wayans’ more cautious fellow police detective Roger Murtaugh. Then, On October 26, Crawford will be back as troubled Ted “Teddy” Talbot Jr. on Sundance TV’s fourth and final season of RECTIFY.
ASSIGNMENT X: Were you looking to do another series once RECTIFY wrapped, or were you looking to stay home with the family for a little while?
CLAYNE CRAWFORD: Me and my wife laughed. It was a lot when I was struggling, trying to get work, which is most of your career. We would plan a vacation, and inevitably, I would get a phone call to go do a job, right? So I told my wife, “February. I’m going to finish RECTIFY, it’s the final season, I’ve got a movie coming out with Legendary, let’s take six months off.” We’ve been remodeling my farmhouse for three years. “Let’s just really enjoy the property and let’s wait for the best job ever. And I don’t know what that is.” I’d love to go work for HBO, I thought maybe Netflix.
Three days later, that man [points to his agent, Paul Santana] called my phone. “Fox wants you.” “No, no, I’m good.” I genuinely wanted to do nothing, but when I read the material, I felt like it was the chance of a lifetime. Even if we failed, I just wanted to play that role and show people I had a little bit of comedy chops.
AX: Riggs is coping with tremendous personal tragedy. Is he just able to close off and have a veneer of humor? If not, where does the comedy come from?
- Lethal Weapon > Season 1 > Episode Stills > 1.06 “The Ties That Bind” Episode Stills
Sorry these are so late. I’ve had pneumonia for the last 3 weeks and am just now getting caught up.
BUDDY TV – Well folks, Lethal Weapon has done it again with “Spilt Milk,” the show’s fifth freshman installment. While the guffaws continue, the relationship between Murtaugh and Riggs deepens as we delve into the details revealing the breadth and intensity of Riggs’ military experience. This episode gives us Riggs at his most sane yet. For Murtaugh’s part, he faces the possibility that he’s just not as sharp as he used to be before the heart surgery.
With every episode of Lethal Weapon I’m loving it more and more. The humor remains fresh and entertaining without overkill. Murtaugh deals with some aging issues which ring true to life. And Riggs, while funny and daring and revealing (but not too quickly), continues to demonstrate that his “madness” is not so much calculated but mindful. At the same time, Murtaugh’s character is charming while Riggs is hot. A very good combination for primetime viewers starving for quality and engaging programming. Well done.
The Deranged Vet Asks, ‘Got Milk?’
All he really wanted was a job and a glass of milk. Chad Jackson, a veteran Navy Seal and sniper trashes and rips off a jewelry store after his application for a security guard position is rejected. However, it seems like the heist might have been the guy’s plan from the beginning, but he’s not concerned that his victims have seen his face and it just feels spontaneous. Throughout Jackson remains cool-headed and fearless. As we move forward, we find that there was always only one mission, and only Riggs and Murtaugh can help Jackson achieve it.
When talking to Dr. Cox, the therapist at the veteran’s hospital where Jackson was being cared for, we learn that the only help Jackson was getting was some pills and group therapy.
Having been familiar with your work since your early performance in A Walk to Remember, and more recently in a supporting role on Sundance’s heartbreaking Rectify, it’s safe to say that I was quite shocked by your current appearance on Fox’s Lethal Weapon. It was like gazing upon a baby deer as it took its first steps, but in a really powerful manly way. You know?
Seeing how you’ve matured and grown was not just breathtaking but reassuring, like maybe there’s hope for the rest of the hair on TV. Maybe one day I won’t throw my remote and scream toward the heavens when an actor suddenly decides to spend the barber money on yet more cheap whiskey. You’re living proof it can be done. And be done well.
BUDDY TV – “There Goes the Neighborhood” is rife with high quality goodies. Right out of the gate we get Dr. Mo Cahill all smokin’ hot in a shortie wetsuit at the same beach where (surprise) hobo Riggs crouches over a spicket rinsing his delicates. She does look impressively smoking hot, by the way, and hotter yet when she slams Riggs about his raggedy-man appearance. This is the kind of feistiness that gives a character depth and staying power, so it’s a huge boost for the LAPD shrink.
Let’s not forget Officer Murtaugh who kicks it with Junior Murtaugh at their old neighborhood barber shop where they run into an old classmate of Junior’s selling bootleg DVDs. Buckle your seatbelt for another roller coaster ride and lots more interesting banter between this two hotties my friends. And while your savoring that deliciousness, the action continues with Murtaugh and Riggs chasing down a professional home robbery duo in Murtaugh’s own neighborhood. One of the guys looks like Mr. Clean, or the black Hulk, as Murtaugh likes to call him. (He looks like The Rock on steroids to me. Kinda handsome, but wide as a barn and 100% muscle.) The team chases the thieves through a closed garage door only to watch them fly out of there on a motorcycle moments later. And we’re off to the races.
Lethal Weapon Wows Millions (12.4 Million, to be Exact)
Oh, and in case you haven’t heard the joyous news, let me be the first to lay it on you: Lethal Weapon has been picked up for a full season. Yessir, that’s right. We’ve got another 14 whole episodes in our future. Hot damn. So lots more blood-pumping, testosterone-juicing, chase scenes, humor and romance is on the way. Onward.
Best Takedown Scene In a Decade of TV
Wow. There are no words … how do you do justice … just, wow. Talk about wildly entertaining! I’m talking about the takedown scene in the men’s locker room shower where Riggs and Murtaugh try (mostly unsuccessfully) to cuff the Black Hulk. “Come over here and try to take me down” threats and splashing and naughty bit humor and Murtaugh sliding across the room while Riggs gets his head lodged between the man’s massive thighs. Rajon “Black Hulk” Phillips literally cleans up the place with Starsky and Hutch … until Riggs finally slugs the man in his massive family tripod so Murtaugh can shock the shine out of him. We’re only 15 minutes in and my evening has already been made.
Riggs tackles and cuffs suspect number two, John “Boogie” Baker who stole the getaway van from his ex employer, Valley Star Cable, at a neighborhood basketball game run by Coach Marshawn Wiley. Remember that name because its important later.
EW – Fox is pulling the trigger on a full season of Lethal Weapon.
The network has ordered an additional five episodes of the freshman buddy cop drama, bringing its total to 18 for the season.
The show was Fox’s top-rated fall premiere in two years and is averaging 8.3 million viewers and a 2.3 rating among adults 18-49 on Wednesday nights.
Lethal Weapon joins a few other freshman shows in getting full season orders since the start of the season: ABC’s Designated Survivor and Speechless, along with NBC’s This Is Us.
Fox’s cop dramedy stars Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford and airs a new episode on Wednesday night.