Monday, October 30, 2017

TV: True crime

The best reason to watch LAW & ORDER: TRUE CRIME is Edie Falco.

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The Emmy winner is playing defense lawyer Leslie Abramson in NBC's re-telling of the Menendez trial -- where Erik and Lyle Menendez were tried for killing their parents Kitty and Jose Menendez.  Leslie Abramson and Jill Lansing (Julianne Nicholson in this series) defended their clients with the argument that the murders were in response to the two boys being molested by their father at an early age and their mother's complicity in Jose's actions.

Leslie Abramson was not seen as a sympathetic character by the press in real time.

Nor were the boys seen as sympathetic.

Part of that was sexism and part of that was the refusal by our culture to address child abuse.

You can see both play out in the trial as the judge attacks both Leslie and the defense she and Lansing offer.

The judge, by the way, is played by Anthony Edwards.

Falco is the stunning lead performance, no question.  But Edwards is among the supporting actors who are serving up surprisingly rich performance.  To that list, you can also add Constance Marie (as Marta Cano), Josh Charles (as Dr. Jerome Oziel) and Heather Graham (as Judalon Smyth).

Charles and Graham manage to pull off the chemistry required to convince you they could be a couple as well as the nastiness needed to make you believe they could be out to destroy one another when it all went sour.

For Judalon, that's when the doctor ends their affair.  That's what prompts her to go to the police and tell them that the Menendez brothers confessed to Jerome that they killed their parents.

Even in reaction shots, Graham sells you on Judalon's thrill at bringing the unethical doctor down.  And Josh Charles is playing a character unlike any he's played before -- and delivering completely.

He doesn't try to sweeten Jerome's actions.  He plays the man who destroys everything in his path and, in the end, his own career.

In January of 1997, CNN reported:

A psychologist who allegedly leaked information to his girlfriend and police about the Menendez brothers' shotgun slayings of their wealthy parents surrendered his medical license to the California Department of Consumer Affairs on Friday.
The Consumer Affairs Board of Psychology said Leon Jerome Oziel violated the professional confidence of his clients, Erik and Lyle Menendez.
The brothers were sentenced in July 1996 to life in prison without parole for the murders of their parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez. Prosecutors said Erik and Lyle shot their parents in August 1989 to gain their fortune. The brothers claimed they were victims of years of sexual abuse and thought they were acting in self-defense when they killed their parents.
The board accused Oziel in 1993 of sharing confidential information with a patient who was also his girlfriend. It said Oziel allowed Judalon Smyth to listen to and reproduce audiotapes of his therapy sessions with the Menendez brothers. Smyth later turned over the tapes to police.

Jerome Oziel is a creep and Josh Charles goes to the mat with this role.

The Menendez brothers?

They really are "there" more than they "are."


Part of it is the focus, but a lot of it is, frankly, that Miles Gaston Villanueva (Lyle) and Gus Halper (Erik) haven't really thought through their roles.  They are the weakest part of the series -- their acting.

But Edie Falco's performance more than makes up for that void.  She's so good that she just might take home Emmy number five for this performance.

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