Sunday, April 14, 2013

After spending 19 years on Death Row for the rape and murder of his teenage girlfriend, Daniel Holden is going home. His conviction has been vacated due to new DNA evidence, thrusting him back into a world he no longer knows. Having spent his adult life waiting to die, Daniel must now learn how to live again. But, his reentry into the outside world may be as unforgiving as prison. He is haunted by the past, dogged by the present, and uncertain of the future. As he struggles to adapt to his new life, his return will reignite the fears of a small town and threaten to shatter his family's fragile peace. Daniel's alleged crime divided a community. His freedom could tear it in half.

Yesterday I got to attend a binge screening of Sundance Channel's first original series Rectify.  The screening showed the entire season of six episodes with a Q&A with some of the cast members, it was an exhausting Saturday!  But those that went I have to say the good majority stayed for the entire six episodes, and you would too given how engrossing the show is.  Rectify is the brain child of Ray McKinnon who is known more for his acting roles in series like Deadwood and Sons of Anarchy.  While the producers of the show are well known for their work on the hit  AMC series Breaking Bad.

Rectify is about Daniel Holden played by Aden Young, who is released from death row after being exonerated for rape/murder charges of his girlfriend Hannah due to DNA evidence.  He entered at the age of 18 and served 19 years leaving him a very withdrawn and disconnected from his own humanity.  Despite the DNA evidence freeing him, the District Attorney and Senator are still looking to get him back to trial again.   When he was originally arrested, he was found with the corpse in unusual circumstances and even confessed to the murder.

The story is more than just about the murder mystery that happened 19 years ago.  Rather it's about Daniel and how he adjusts to life again and his family and small town's interaction with him and each other.  How do you go from living each day not being able to touch another person for close to two decades, knowing the date of your death to being a free man?  It's a complex role and Aden does an amazing job.  The other actor that really stood out for me was Adelaide Clemens who plays Tawney Talbot.  She is Daniel's step brother's  wife.  Adelaide is attractive with her innocent looks and naive like demeanor character.  But what may turn some people off is the religious aspect of the character that she plays.  The majority of the cast is great, but Aden definitely stands out in his role.  If there are any gripes with the series is that at some points, each of the episodes seems a bit long.  Maybe it was because I'm watching all six hours straight, or maybe it's the way that each episode runs with approximately a day and a half of time in their lives after Daniel is released.  I think those who are not binge watching may find it easier to watch.

Spoilers in the next paragraph, do not read if you don't want to be spoiled...

The fact that this is Sundance Channel's first original series means that they are of course hoping that it'll be successful.  The first episodes airs on April 22nd, and I hope you will watch it.  The main reason why is yes, I really like the series, and I hope to find out as you're probably wondering if Daniel did indeed raped and murdered his sweetheart 19 years ago.  The first season leaves you with a lot of questions unanswered, including the question of Daniel's innocence.

The cast members that attended the Q&A were J. Cameron-Smith who plays Janet, the mother of Daniel.  Bruce McKinnon, Ted Senior, the step father of Daniel.  And Luke Kirby who plays Jon, the attorney working on Daniel's case whose also have developed a relationship with Daniel's sister Amantha.  They sat through the entire screening with everyone else, which for them was for the most part the first time they've gotten to see the whole series put together instead of just the parts they have acted in.  The event was moderated by Adam B. Vary from Buzzfeed.  From the Q&A an audience member liken the series to David Lynch's Twin Peaks but without the supernatural aspect.  I've never watched Twin Peaks but have heard good things about it, so I guess it's a good point of comparison to start off with.  A question to the cast is that despite the seriousness of the subject matter and the whole show that is definitely a comedy element thrown in periodically throughout the entire season.  Bruce McKinnon comments that he's been a long time associate and friend of series creator Ray McKinnon, that is just very typical of Ray if you know him.

Overall, I would recommend this series, I would give it 3.5 out of 5.0 stars.  Again it'll be on Sundance Channel, premiering April 22nd 2013, 10pm ET.

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