TV Series: Rectify (2013) – Intense, compelling TV that makes you squirm and think

rectify_lgSundance Channel ran a new show from Ray McKinnon of Deadwood fame recently called Rectify. Those viewers that feel that Boardwalk Empire is slow will be bored to tears. But those who appreciate careful, intense storytelling albeit slow-paced will not be disappointed. There are no explosions and little real suspense in the show but the tension is very real and vivid throughout. Daniel Holden (played with a rare intensity and passion by Aden Young) gets out of prison on a technicality despite being on death row for 19 years for raping and murdering his high school sweetheart. We actually never find out whether he did it or not – there is solid evidence for it and yet there is plenty of room for doubt plus no DNA evidence and apparent tampering by the local police. It has been described elsewhere as a Southern Gothic mystery and that seems relatively accurate if somewhat reductive. Each episode reveals more about the experiences of Daniel on death row – a fascinating look into the sadism of some and the sadness and affinity of others. Meanwhile, his family  struggle with their own feelings of support – especially his sister Amantha in a superb job of acting by Abigail Spencer – and ambiguity – especially that of his mother. There is even a soft love story here and a case of jealousy but I won’t spoil that for you. The delicate line that the scenario walks between the lines of good and evil and particularly is surgical precision in analyzing each of the characters in situ as it were, is absolutely spell-binding. I particularly appreciated how the main narrative rolls like a wake but there are always eddys and pools forming where we get insight into Daniel and start to question his sanity and ability to cope on the “outside”.

I highly recommend each of the six episodes of this extraordinary piece of television. I am going to have such a hard time rating the shows this year after the excellence of The Americans and House of Cards and now Rectify. I wonder what some of this summer’s new shows – Ray Donovan, Low Winter Sun, The Bridge, Orange is the New Black, and Top of the Lake – and the return of some favorites – Dexter, Magic City, and ESPECIALLY Breaking Bad – will bring…


About mfinocchiaro

IT Architecture Guru for large PLM software company but dabbling in Web 2.0 and other stuff.
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