Friday, April 26, 2013

Pilot Review: Rectify

Rectify (Sundance Channel)
Premiered April 22 at 10pm

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this show whose poster in the subway – conveniently plastered at the bottom of the escalator down to the 7 entrance at 42nd and 3rd, which I passed several times in the last week – that inspired me to tune into a network I hadn’t ever watched before. The ad suggested a “startling new series” from the producers of “Breaking Bad,” which to me implied something like “Banshee,” another new show on a network I hadn’t really watched before. The shows started out similarly, with a man long behind bars being released out into a changed world, but they diverge from there. Whereas the protagonist on Cinemax’s hit series assumes a new identity because no one knows him, everyone in the small town knows Daniel Holden and knows just why he was put away in the first place. In hour one, we didn’t hear all that much from Daniel, and it was therefore all the more effective to hear him recount his violent experiences in prison to his unsuspecting stepbrother in hour two. He’s an interesting lead character, and this show has an intriguing focus, spanning the breadth of the whole extended Holden family and well as those lawmakers who would like to see Daniel put back behind bars. Among the cast, the standout is certainly Abigail Spencer, who made an impression on “Mad Men” early in its run, as Daniel’s temperamental sister Amantha. I’m especially interested also that this show is created by Ray McKinnon, who recently starred on “Sons of Anarchy” and appeared in a feature film release today, “Mud.” I’m not sure I’m hooked just yet on this show, but I’m definitely enticed by its commitment to what strikes me as a somewhat unusual and different subject matter.

How will it work as a series? Daniel’s adjustment back into society is beginning slowly, and I think we’ll see more and more of that each episode. Ending the first installment with a smile and a suicide was effective, and the second finished in a less pleasant but equally objectively powerful way. As long as the show has a clear direction, I think it should be a worthwhile journey.
How long will it last? Sundance Channel has its own measurements of success, and this show is starting out with just a six-episode order. Whether or not the story can be wrapped up that quickly is yet to be determined, and I think that the channel will want to reward a show with good buzz and bring it back for another year. If not, it could be a one-shot miniseries.

Pilot grade: B

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