This (PAST) Week In Black Television

This (PAST) Week In Black Television

**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

This Article is related to: Television


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