Television – the endless season [TELEVISION SERIES]

Lea Thompson as Victoria Spencer in "The Spencer Sisters." Photo courtesy of Steven Ackerman/eOne

It’s a never ending cycle now with television. Granted, the dying broadcast breed is still adhering to their normal release schedule, but more and more it’s just a constant barrage of new shows in what is now an endless season.

The CW has several new shows premiering, although none are home grown. The best of the lot is British and the others are Canadian. But let’s lead off with my favorite.


“Everyone Else Burns”

“Everyone Else Burns” is an often laugh-out-loud series about an evangelical cult group that awaits the coming apocalypse. Father David keeps his family on a short leash, one that is beginning to fray when his wife Fiona starts her own online business. Granted it’s for church-related goodies like chastity rings and Bible purses but it’s the independence David objects to. Daughter Rachel is secretly studying for entrance to university but is at a distinct disadvantage given her cloistered upbringing. Her new friend Joshua, shunned from the church, is eager to make her more worldly but he’ll have a tough row to hoe. Aaron, the youngest member of this family has seemingly drunk the kool aid, although there are some cracks in his facade. Annoyed at the midnight apocalypse drills called by his father, he shows his maladjustment in the very graphic, violent and realistic drawings he makes of his father rotting in hell. At the least, he’s shown enormous artistic talent. 

Simon Bird as David in “Everyone Else Burns.” Photo courtesy of James Stack/Channel 4.

As far-fetched as all of this is, it’s never too far from the reality of hyper Christian sects that insist on hiding in the past, eschewing many modern conveniences, and the insistence on traditional roles. David, who cherishes the Book of Order and insists that the whole family obey its bizarre edicts, is as odd as they come. A true believer, he’s devastated when he is passed over for Elder in the church. In his place the minister has chosen Andrew, the hunky, Black over achiever who has recently lost his wife (as in who knows where she is) and seems incredibly normal. 

The humor is sly even if the situations are over the top. Although slightly slow at the start as we are gradually introduced to the various forms of crazy exhibited by each character, each of the four episodes that were given for review coalesced, highlighting the insanity while maintaining the warmth. This highly recommended series premiers one episode per week on Thursdays as part of the CW’s comedy block. 


“The Spencer Sisters”

“The Spencer Sisters” is another Canadian import with a secret, or not really secret, weapon in the guise of the delightful Lea Thompson who has recently been directing episodic television. But who can forget her charming presence in “Caroline in the City” and her most iconic role in the “Back to the Future” series. Here, as Victoria Spencer, she reminds you of what we’ve been missing.

Lea Thompson as Victoria Spencer and Stacey Farber as Darby Spencer in “The Spencer Sisters.” Photo courtesy of Steven Ackerman/ eOne.

Darby Spencer, quick witted and smart, quits her job on the city police force in a fit of justified pique. Unfortunately she doesn’t have a Plan B and is forced to move back home with her mother, Victoria Spencer the famous romance novelist. Refusing to divulge why she’s appeared on the very fancy doorstep that romance has built, Darby is sulky and sassy. Mother-daughter issues are definitely at play and Victoria is unapologetic about past issues, real or imagined. Victoria has her own problems. Her latest novel has been banned and she’s been deemed a has-been. When a friend of Darby’s shows up devastated because she’s been kicked out of her doctoral program for trumped up reasons, Victoria decides that they need to investigate. 

Darby, a crack investigator, follows some leads as her mother oils the wheels of justice. Together they actually make a formidable duo, something Darby refuses to acknowledge. It doesn’t help that Victoria revels in being told, way too often, that she looks more like Darby’s sister than her mother (long shots and filters go a long way here). Victoria is convinced that they should start their own detective agency, something that will take Darby one more episode to see.

It’s predictable and soft but it’s also charming and has enough humorous moments to offset the sentimentality that often permeates Canadian dramas. It’s not a bad way to spend an hour with episodes dropping every Wednesday.


“Sullivan’s Crossing

“Sullivan’s Crossing” doesn’t have an original bone in its breakdown. What it does have, however, is the return of the charming curmudgeon Scott Patterson (“The Gilmore Girls”) as its lead, Sully, as in Sullivan’s Crossing. The setup is simple. Maggie Sullivan (Morgan Kohan) is a high rising surgeon in Boston. When a scandal engulfs her, she takes off for her childhood home in Nova Scotia where her father maintains a campground. Her parents divorced when she was young and she rarely returned. Sully lives a very simple life and it’s questionable that the more worldly Maggie will be able to adjust. She’s just marking time but life in Sullivan’s Crossing has other ideas for her. 

Scott Patterson as Sully Sullivan and Morgan Kohan as Maggie Sullivan in “Sullivan’s Crossing .” Photo courtesy of Fremantle.

Predictable in every way, it’s a given that Maggie will adjust to a slower pace, kicking and protesting all the way. She’ll clash with the mysterious stranger who helps out around the camp and of course he will be the romantic interest. Everyone in the big city, including her fiance, will let her down and everyone in the woods will show her the error of her ways. Keep in mind, I’m just surmising all of this because we’ve all seen it before. This is “Northern Exposure” if it had been made for the Hallmark Channel. Each of these ten episodes are slotted for Wednesdays before “The Spencer Girls.”



comments so far. Comments posted to may be reprinted in the Easy Reader print edition, which is published each Thursday.