The package “Boston 2017” (May 27) made much of a billion dollars on arts, a billion on biotech, and ambitious new bus lines, but it didn’t have one mention of whether anyone will be able to afford to live in Boston in 10 years. Even in the midst of a housing slump, rent and real estate prices are driving away young families, artists, entrepreneurs, and middle-income workers. What are the visionaries of today doing to solve that problem?
And at MeeVee, I’ve got a review of Meadowlands, the new Showtime show
Showtime has something very, very weird on their hands in “Meadowlands,” premiering tonight, and it may help the network compete with HBO in premium cable drama.
After their house is firebombed, Danny and Evelyn Brogan enter a witness protection program. They and their teenage twins Zoe and Mark are blindfolded and shipped off to Meadowlands, a quiet little town somewhere in the British countryside. Everyone is over-friendly, with two exceptions: the handyman and the cop, both of whom seem more than a little psychotic.
Also, nobody ever leaves town for any reason. Meadowlands is safe: everything outside is deadly. By the end of the first episode, we find out why: everyone in town is in the witness protection program. The entire town is populated by people with horrible pasts they never discuss.
It sounds like a collection of ideas plucked from other shows: the dysfunctional crime family from “The Sopranos,” the new identity in a veneer of suburban happiness from “The Riches,” the creepy British town is an obvious reference to “The Prisoner.” Of course, this being Showtime, there’s some disturbing but compelling sex thrown in. With all those elements, “Meadowlands” has a lot of potential for disaster.
Things get riskier when you thrown in twists that can only be described as (David-) Lynchian: Mark Brogan hasn’t spoken since the fire, but carries on a mute peeping-tom flirtation with the middle-aged woman across the street before fixating on her daughter Jezebel, stealing her clothes, and wearing them. Zoe flirts with the handyman, but then the cop finds out and nearly kills the him for it. Jezebel is grossly overweight but everyone tells her she’s the most beautiful person in the world; she’s rude about how much prettier she is than everyone else. A man spotted at the fire, possibly the arsonist himself, moves in next door. The witness protection case manager meets Danny in a sleazy-looking motel, but inside her room is a full-size surveillance office with video screens showing the movements of everyone in town.
Showtime could have gone with an imitation of a dozen different shows and ended up with something mediocre. Instead they’ve aimed high and produced a show that’s genuinely interesting, with direction, acting, and cinematography that don’t let the concept down.