Big Stars on Small Screens
by Ralph Lucas – Publisher
(September 9, 2021 – Toronto, ON) While writing about the start of the Film Festival Season, I made a note to remember this is also the start of the new television season. For some of the same reasons the film industry holds its best until fall, networks do the same thing.
The first that caught my attention was Dr. Death. It stars Joshua Jackson as the terrifyingly real Dr. Christopher Duntsch. Between 2011 and 2013 he operated on 38 patients in the Dallas area, leaving 31 paralyzed or seriously injured and two of them dead. In 2018 a podcast titled Dr. Death was launched and this 8 episode mini-series is based on that podcast. Costars include Christian Slater, Alec Baldwin and Carrie Preston. It makes its debut this Sunday, September 12 on Showcase.
On a completely different level, Only Murders in the Building is an offbeat hilarious take on true crime television. It would have to be because it costars Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez. Like Dr. Death, this is an American series and this one created by Steve Martin and John Hoffman. It follows three strangers, played by the aforementioned stars who all live in the Arconia apartment building and are obsessively committed to a true crime podcast. Martin Short plays Oliver Putnam, a struggling Broadway director who spawns the idea of starting their own podcast. Only Murders in the Building was set to debut on Hulu on August 31st and I assume it has. If you’re a subscriber you can stream the 8-episode Only Murders in the Building series on Disney+ in Canada. So far no info about a second season.
All television seems based on three main themes or professions. Crime/Police, Medicine/Doctors, Law/Lawyers. In that last category, along comes Family Law, pictured at the top of this article. Shot in and set in Vancouver, this new Global TV series stars Jewel Staite as a lawyer under suspension who is a recovering alcoholic named Abby Bianchi. As a condition of her probation, she is forced to work at her estranged father’s (Victor Garber) firm, Svensson and Associates, and practice in family law for the first time. Meanwhile she needs to forge new relationships with the half-brother (Zach Smadu) and half-sister (Genelle Williams) she’s never met. The result is a dysfunctional family law firm operating to help other families with their own dysfunctions. Family Law debuts on Global Friday, September 17.
Ralph Lucas is the founder and publisher of Northernstars.ca. He began writing about film and reviewing movies while in radio in Montreal in the mid-1970s.