Tag Archives: Ugly Betty

Tennant plays a courtroom Houdini in Escape Artist

'Masterpiece Mystery!' returns Sunday on PBS.

From left),acquitted murder suspect Liam Foyle (Tony Kebbell) thanks his defense team (Roy Marsden and David Tennant) in ‘The Escape Artist,’ a taut, two-part thriller premiering Sunday on PBS’ ‘Masterpiece Mystery!’

Masterpiece Mystery! gets its summer season off to a white-knuckle start Sunday night with The Escape Artist, a two-part thriller (concluding on June 22) about a brilliant defense attorney whose life and career go off the rails. David Tennant (Broadchurch) stars as Will Burton, the top criminal lawyer in the UK, whose perfect record of courtroom wins has put him on the fast track to ‘’take the silk” as Queen’s Counsel. He even has a perfect family – vivacious wife Kate (Ashley Jensen, Ugly Betty) and young son Jamie (Gus Barry) — to round out the idyllic portrait.
Will’s cases often find him sparring with legal adversary Maggie Gardner (Sophie Okonedo), who is fed up with always coming in second to Will. What seems to be lost on both of them is that their cerebral legal games in the courtroom usually take a heavy toll on the victims, defendants and their loved ones.
Invariably, Will often winds up defending and getting off some characters who most likely should be behind bars (hence his nickname of “the escape artist”), but as he somewhat idealistically explains to anyone who questions him, “Everyone deserves a defense.”
Then, just as Will and his family are heading out of town to their vacation getaway, his bosses hand him the case file on Liam Foyle (Toby Kebbell), a reclusive bird lover who stands accused of the horrific torture-killing of a young female medical student. Liam is a self-confessed misanthrope, but he adamantly insists that he is innocent. As Will, on vacation, studies the file, he can’t help seeing that there’s a ton of compelling circumstantial evidence against Liam, such as how his credit card statements reflect that he was a frequent user of “extreme porn” websites featuring the kind of activity that figured in the gruesome and extended killing of the victim.
Once in court, however, Will grows convinced that Liam is being rushed to judgment, especially after the judge refuses to grant a continuance to allow Will’s DNA expert to complete his research. Based partly on that, Will is able to get the judge, in effect, to declare a mistrial on the basis of procedural error. Chalk up another win in Will’s column.
And then Will makes a tiny error in judgment, a small yet crucial misstep that sets into motion a series of tragic, violent events. Even worse, he finds himself compromised by the very trial strategies that once stood him in good stead.
That’s all I’ll reveal about this edge-of-your-seat suspense drama, which has a very satisfying quota of twists and even shocks. Tennant is sensationally good in a role that forces him to play things straight, with none of his trademark Doctor Who twinkle. Okenodo, who picked up a Tony Award just last Sunday night for her performance in the current Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun, is also good in a role that could read as a one-dimensional villainess with a different actress.
Among the other recognizable faces in the large ensemble of The Escape Artist are veteran Masterpiece character actor Roy Marsden as another member of Foyle’s defense team and Kate Dickie (Sansa Stark’s mad aunt Lysa in Game of Thrones) as a Scottish barrister trying to offer Will some urgently needed legal advice in next week’s conclusion.
It’s easy to see why The Escape Artist earned rave reviews when it aired recently in the UK, and the two 90-minute episodes should whet viewers’ appetites for more mysteries to follow under the Masterpiece Mystery! banner.
David Tennant and Ashley Jensen star in 'Masterpiece Mystery!' Sunday on PBS.

Brilliant defense attorney Will Burton (David Tennant) watches helplessly as his happy marriage to wife Kate (Ashley Jensen, ‘Ugly Betty’) is destroyed in Part One of ‘The Escape Artist,’ premiering Sunday on the PBS series ‘Masterpiece Mystery!’

And witty little ‘Maids’ in a row

From left, Ana Ortiz, Edy Ganem, Judy Reyes, Dania Ramirez and Roselyn Sanchez
Starting tonight, Lifetime starts serving up a bracing glass of summer sangria in the form of Devious Maids, a featherweight but entertaining new dramedy from two former Desperate Housewives collaborators, actress Eva Longoria and series creator Marc Cherry. Adapted from a Mexican TV series called Ellas son la Alegria del Hogar (which means “they are the joy of the household”), the series revolves around four Latina maids working for (usually) demanding and insensitive wealthy families in some of the most fabulous mansions in Beverly Hills.
Devious Maids opens with the fatal stabbing of another maid, Flora, during a party at the home of her employer, Evelyn Powell (Rebecca Wisocky), shortly after the latter has upbraided her for allegedly seducing Evelyn’s husband, Adrian (Tom Irwin). Adrian and the party guests are horrified by the murder, but Evelyn is primarily preoccupied with the fact that she can’t find anyone to clean up the gore from the murder scene.
“(The agency) gave me attitude because Flora was murdered,” she complains to a friend. “I’d understand if I had had a few maids slaughtered, but I’ve only lost the one. It’s not fair.”
Meanwhile, Marisol Duarte (Ana Ortiz, Ugly Betty) has landed a job cleaning the home of the Powells’ neighbors, Michael Stappord (Brett Cullen) and his new trophy wife, Taylor (Brianna Brown), although Taylor is uneasy that Marisol has no accent and speaks as if she had gone to college (translation: “She has an attitude”).
Marisol soon begins to win over Taylor by listening to her frustration about living with Michael in a home that had been extensively decorated by his first wife (guest star Valerie Mahaffey), an insecure shrew given to dropping by at inopportune moments. Marisol also offers to help Evelyn by filling in at her home as well until a replacement for Flora can be found, and we begin to see that Marisol is more than idly curious about the murder.
In another mansion, Zoila Del Barrio (Judy Reyes, Scrubs) has her hands full keeping her aging and deeply neurotic mistress, Genevieve Delatour (Susan Lucci), from having a nervous breakdown, but she’s not too busy to notice that Zoila’s daughter, Valentina (Edy Ganem), has set her cap for Genevieve’s handsome son, Remi (Drew Van Acker), an infatuation that Zoila recognizes is a fast ticket to catastrophe.
At the home of soap star Spence Westmore (Grant Show, Melrose Place) and his B-list movie actress wife, Peri (Mariana Klaveno, True Blood), Rosie Falta (Dania Ramirez) picks up most of the slack when it comes to nurturing their little boy while struggling to find a way to bring her own young son from Guadalajara to be with her in Los Angeles.
Finally, relentlessly ambitious Carmen Luna (Roselyn Sanchez) keeps flirting with disaster – and her new superstar employer, Alejandro Rubio (Matt Cendeno) – in hopes that he will help her launch her own singing career.
Since Cherry created both Desperate Housewives and Devious Maids, it’s no surprise that the two shows share some creative DNA (a dark mystery at the heart of the story, a somewhat camp sensibility, strong female characters and even similar musical underscoring). I’m a little surprised that Maids has ruffled some feathers in terms of handling its ethnic characters since, by and large, the Anglo characters are far less appealing and sympathetic than the principal maids are. The ensemble cast is very strong, led by Ortiz on the domestic side and, on the other, the gloriously over-the-top Wisocky, who once guest starred as Bree’s mother on Desperate Housewives.
Devious Maids isn’t out to make any truly subversive sociopolitical points – or, if it is, it fails notably on that account. It is, however, an entertaining way to spend an hour on a summer night, and on that score, I suggest that you check it out.
Rebecca Wisocky