20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
David E. Kelley has created some amazing television series, including Ally McBeal, The Practice, and Boston Legal. He’s also married to the utterly stunning Michelle Pfeiffer. But before all of that, one of his early series was Picket Fences. This ensemble drama focused on a small town and included a legal component and how small crime cases affected the entire population.
Sherriff Jimmy Brock (Tom Skerritt) has to police the small town of Rome, Wisconsin. His wife Dr. Jill Brock (Kathy Baker) is the town doctor. They have two sons and a pensive teen daughter, Kimberly (Holly Marie Combs). He manages a precinct with sexy deputies Maxine Stewart (Lauren Holly) and Kenny Lacos (Costas Mandylor). Each episode, an unusual crime or legal issue will culminate in a court case presided over by Judge Henry Bone (Ray Walston) and defense attorney Douglas Wambaugh (Fyvush Finkel).
The series has a similar irreverence to Ally McBeal. The town features unique characters including the nosy 911 operator Ginny Weedon (Zelda Rubinstein) and the slightly creepy coroner Carter Pike (Kelly Connell). It also focuses on the legality of bizarre court cases including an assailant that likes to take baths in people’s homes, a case of spontaneous human combustion, and the legality of euthanasia.
The series has something for everyone. Each episode has equal parts family drama, the romantic interplay of the two sexy deputies, the procedural crime drama of the case of the episode, and the legal tension of court proceedings. There is also a ton of humor in the exchanges between Walston and Finkel. It also explores morality without being overly preachy. It doesn’t push an agenda but rather explores all sides of the issue.
Picket Fences offers a refreshing look back at a family drama that has a happy family. The Brock family is a united family unit dealing with the social issues, bizarre crimes, and dramatic tension of their offbeat small town. Despite the lack of internet and cell phones, the series does have some pretty relevant subject matter that holds up .
The series won multiple Emmy Awards both for the series and for leads Skerritt, Baker, Finkel, Walston, and Leigh Taylor-Young. It also featured notable appearances by James Earl Jones and Marlee Matlin.
This series makes great binge watching material, and the first two seasons are available for free on Hulu.
Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.