Friday, September 26, 2014

New TV Show Mini Review: Red Band Society

Because of the sheer number of new shows that come out this season, I will not have time to give full reviews to all of them.  So please enjoy these mini-reviews

I loved the idea of Red Band Society.  I am not one to shy away from melodrama.  I love big ideas and big emotion.  And what could be more emotional than people who are young (and should feel invincible) being surrounded and beaten up by sickness.

The concept could call for a lot of soul searching and thinking about what is it that could make their lives count and matter.

Instead, we are left with an absolute mess.

The writing for the show is worse than Glee.  And that is saying a lot.

We start by being introduced to a mean cheerleader with a heart condition.  I couldn't even tell you her name, but it doesn't matter.  She has no more depth than that.

We are then introduced to the other kids:  Coma boy, bald sick kid, anorexic girl, black sick kid, and new sick kid.  They are completely and utterly one-dimensional.

I remember watching the pilot thinking: "There are thousands of young actors who probably auditioned for these parts.  Couldn't they have found any good ones?"  That may sound harsh, but please keep in mind, I just had to sit through Red Band Society.

The adult actors are actually fairly good.  Octavia Spencer is mean but fun.  Griffin Dunne is a bit of fun as sick, rich man.  And David Annabelle shows a lot of charisma for this show.

The main problem is that for the sickness and suffering of these kids to have any impact you have to believe them as people.  And you don't.  Even the writer's attempts at subtext are about as subtle as a sledge hammer.

And you would think that facing mortality would bring up at least a little explorations about the deeper mysteries of faith.  Nope.  Instead, we get kids facing death indulging in every kind of vice because… why not?  YOLO!  There's a little mention about the soul, but it so empty that it may as well have been left out.

This is television for how Hollywood imagines television watchers.  They think we are dumb and just want broad emotion.  But it is done in too broad brush strokes.  The emotion isn't real, but it is plastered all over the screen.  It reminds of the old Karaoke adage: if you can't sing well, sing loud.

1 out of 5 stars


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