Harrison Ford (left) is among the correspondents featured in the new Showtime documentary series ‘Years of Living Dangerously.’
Some of the world’s most respected journalists as well as celebrities from all points on the political spectrum explore the sometimes polarizing issue of climate change in Years of Living Dangerously,
a nine-part documentary series premiering tonight on Showtime.
Executive produced by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Weintraub, the series sends a battery of correspondents ranging from CBS newswoman Leslie Stahl (60 Minutes
) to celebrities including Matt Damon and Harrison Ford to a number of locations around the globe to offer a first-person account on various contributing factors in this worldwide problem, as well as some of the devastating effects climate change is wreaking.
In tonight’s premiere, for example, Ford looks into how cutting down vast swathes of Earth’s forest results in higher temperatures and lowered rainfall due to increased carbon loads in the atmosphere, carbon that previously would have been absorbed by those decimated trees. The actor travels all the way to Indonesia, where entrepreneurs are burning down horrifying stretches of jungle trees to plant far less eco-friendly palm trees, in order to profit from the skyrocketing demand for palm oil.
Meanwhile, Don Cheadle (House of Lies
) travels to Plainview, Texas, a small town that is feeling the sharp economic effects of an extended drought, which led to the closure of an industrial plant that provided jobs to thousands of locals. Cheadle meets many of these jobless Texans who, when asked about climate change, simply shrug and chalk it up to God’s will, rejecting the possibility that they can do anything to improve the situation.
Elsewhere, New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman points out how droughts and other manifestations of climate change can exacerbate sensitive political situations in such global pressure points as Egypt, Syria and Yemen.
Other contributors featured in upcoming weeks include Jessica Alba, America Ferrera (Ugly Betty
), Michael C. Hall (Dexter
), Olivia Munn (The Newsroom
), Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries
) and MSNBC pundit Chris Hayes.
Years of Living Dangerously
is immediately preceded by the season premieres of two long-running Showtime half-hour comedies that some might argue have passed their sell-by dates. First up, and the better show by far, is Nurse Jackie,
with Edie Falco reprising her Emmy-winning role as New York nurse and addict Jackie Peyton. As fans of the show will remember, Jackie spent most of Season 5 clean and sober, trying earnestly to make amends to all the loved ones and hospital colleagues whose trust she had betrayed while in the grips of her addiction to narcotics. Then, in the season finale, Jackie casually and deliberately popped a pill right before heading out to a party honoring her first year of sobriety, standing before her cheering friends and family stoned out of her mind while accepting all their hugs and words of praise.
Officer Frank Verelli (Adam Ferrara) gets a crash course in the down side of loving an addict (Edie Falco) in ‘Nurse Jackie.’
As Season 6 opens, Jackie is in a very bad place. Since that fateful night, she has popped pills like Pez and, as in Season 1 of the series, has returned to hiding emergency stashes of her pills in every conceivable hiding place. More chillingly, however, we watch as Jackie surrenders any pretense that she’s taking drugs for “legitimate” reasons such as work stress and chronic back pain. Jackie Peyton pops pills because she wants to, and God help anyone who tries to stop her. And Edie Falco, one of America’s finest actresses, throws caution to the winds and goes for it. If Jackie spent most of last season trying to reconnect with family and friends, she spends most of these new episodes ruthlessly and brutally dropping napalm on every personal relationship in her life. You want to slap her senseless, because in just about every meaningful context, Jackie finally has it all: an absolutely devoted new lover, New York cop Frank Verelli (Adam Ferrara), a newly supportive ex-husband (Dominic Fumusa), a worshipful co-worker (Emmy winner Merritt Wever’s Zoey), a trusting boss (Anna Deavere Smith) and, as this season unfolds, a reconciliation with her previously hostile older daughter, Grace (Ruby Jerins).
With the regrettable departure last season of Jackie’s best friend, Dr. Eleanor O’Hara (Eve Best), Jackie gets a new confidante in these new episodes in the form of 12-step sponsor Antoinette (Tony-winning Broadway champion Julie White, Go On
), who shares Jackie’s decidedly casual attitude toward relapses. Another Tony winner, Laura Benanti (who came out of NBC’s polarizing live broadcast of The Sound of Music
smelling like a rose, or edelweiss), also joins the show in a recurring role as the new fiancée of Jackie’s ex-husband, and theater actor Michael Esper gives a powerhouse performance as Gabe, Jackie’s new drug dealer and sometime date.
Showtime already has renewed Nurse Jackie
for a seventh season and, given how this new one concludes, I am looking forward to seeing how the writers paint themselves OUT of the climactic corner.
Not so for the seventh and final season of Californication,
which immediately follows Nurse Jackie.
I haven’t followed this show for several years, since it always struck me as having a terminal case of arrested development. To be honest, I was surprised to discover it’s still on the air. I did, however, wade through last season’s episodes (you’re welcome) and the 12 episodes in this new season.
Guess what? Apparently I made the right call, because during my hiatus, Peter Pan – oops, sorry, David Duchovny’s aging writer Hank Moody – hasn’t experienced any significant personal growth. Sure, he regrets how his exasperated soulmate and baby momma, Karen (Natascha McElhone), is giving him the cold shoulder, but not enough to, God forbid, actually make any life changes.
Even worse, in Hank’s perspective, his bad behavior has rendered him persona non grata with professional colleagues across several different media, forcing him to accept a writing gig in – oh, the horror! – network television, a cheesy police drama called Santa Monica Cop.
Emmy winner Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos
) joins the cast this season in a recurring guest role as Rick Rath, the hard-driven producer of Hank’s show, and Heather Graham likewise guest stars as a figure out of Hank’s past.
As I watched these new episodes, though, I was struck more forcibly not by who was there but who wasn’t: the extraordinary Madeleine Martin, the young actress who up until last season co-starred as Hank and Karen’s teenage daughter, Becca. At the end of Season 6, Becca departed for a “literary pilgrimage,” and her absence is keenly felt. Forget hearts and minds. Californication
has always remained tightly focused on the zone between navel and knee, but Martin’s Becca could make you stop and briefly worry about how this absolutely fantastic kid could ever thrive in an environment filled with such selfish adults.
Becca returns in the penultimate episode of Californication
and, in a rare moment of emotional truth for this series, she absolutely throws the book at her dad. It’s a searing moment, worth checking out. You can safely skip the rest of it. After all, this is the kind of show that, in this new season, hires the always delightful Mary Lynn Rajskub to play a writer-producer and then gives her abundant food allergies so she just mainly keeps projectile vomiting at the other characters.
Stay classy, Californication
Heather Graham (left) and ’24′ star Mary Lynn Rajskub join David Duchovny in the seventh and final season of Showtime’s Californication.