'Switched at Birth' on ABC Family TV.

ENTERTAINMENT – ‘Switched at Birth’ ABC Family TV Series Rated 100 on Rotten Tomatoes, Worth A Watch!

  • RileyRose Author McKesson

These days it’s much more difficult to give the cold shoulder to ABC Family. Not that we haven’t tried.

I’m doing this review on a throwback TV series, ‘Switched at Birth’, that premiered on ABC Family in 2011-2017 and received a rating of 100 on Rotten Tomatoes. This caught my eye and after watching, I understand why. It’s simply a great nighttime soap opera of fiction, based on that true story we all heard about in the news headlines. The story has sooo much drama and very topical issues related to real modern day teen issues.

 

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Two teenage girls discover they were sent home with the wrong families when they were newborns. The girls went on to lead very different lives: Artistic Bay Kennish (Vanessa Marano), grew up in a world of privilege, while athletic Daphne Vasquez (Katie Leclerc), was raised by a single mother and contracted an illness that left her deaf at a young age.

‘Switched at Birth’ TV Series on ABC Family.

These days it’s much more difficult to give the cold shoulder to ABC Family. Not that we haven’t tried.

Once considered a major problem child among the vast clan of Disney-owned TV outlets, it was long a wasteland of syndicated reruns, bland movies and cookie-cutter kiddie programming. But critics were forced to take notice in 2008, when “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” attracted more viewers than The CW’s much buzzier “Gossip Girl.” And now, just try to find a major magazine this summer that hasn’t been graced by the luminous young women of ABC Family’s addictively suspenseful soap “Pretty Little Liars.”

 

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Recently, the cable network struck gold again when the freshman drama “Switched at Birth” became ABC Family’s highest-rated series debut of all time, attracting 3.3 million viewers.

Katie Leclerc and Vanessa Marano star in ‘Switched at Birth’ on ABC Family TV Series.

“Switched at Birth” tells the story of two teenage girls who discover that, due to a hospital mix-up, they were given to the wrong mothers as newborns.

Over on the major networks, an audience of 3.3 million cries out for cancellation. But let’s remember that, on television, everything is relative. That’s a robust number for basic cable. In fact, it’s a number that leaves “Mad Men” in the dust.

 

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“Switched at Birth” tells the story of two teenage girls who discover that, due to a hospital mix-up, they were given to the wrong mothers as newborns. Yes, it sounds more like the premise of an absurd sitcom, but it makes for an engaging, if clunky, drama. And it continues ABC Family’s successful strategy of courting older teens and young adults, especially females.

Vanessa Marano and Katie Leclerc star in ‘Switched at Birth’ on ABC Family TV Series.

The rich mom and poor mom don’t see eye to eye.

Of course, as TV would have it, the show’s two teens, Bay Kennish (Vanessa Marano) and Daphne Vasquez (Katie Leclerc), were raised on opposite sides of the Kansas City tracks in totally different environments. Bay grew up in a palatial home as the daughter of a retired baseball star (D.W. Moffett) and his socialite wife (Lea Thompson). Bay and her brother (Lucas Grabeel) seemingly have the perfect life.

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Daphne, meanwhile, was raised by a single mom (Constance Marie), who is just scraping by as a hairdresser. Naturally, they live in a working-class, crime-infested neighborhood.

D.W. Moffett and Lea Thompson star in ‘Switched at Birth’ on ABC TV Family.

Daphne unwittingly crushes on Bay’s ex-boyfriend. Yikes!

If the overly simplistic setup doesn’t have you rolling your eyes, the trite characterizations will. Predictably, Bay is a prep-school brat who pouts a lot and acts out. Daphne, in contrast, is the sweet-natured, good-hearted poor girl. Oh, and she’s also deaf, but we’ll get back to that.

As you might expect, confusing identity issues abound. Also, awkward situations. The rich mom and poor mom don’t see eye to eye. Oh, no! Daphne unwittingly crushes on Bay’s ex-boyfriend. Yikes!

But no worries. On “Switched,” conflicts are neatly resolved. When the Vasquez family struggles to make rent payments, they simply move into the Kennish guesthouse (along with Grandma), paving the way for even more awkward situations.

In the case of “Switched at Birth,” silence truly can be golden.

Yet, despite all the implausibilities and irritations, “Switched” manages to make a positive impression, thanks to some sturdy writing and solid performances that adequately sell the premise. The standout is Leclerc, who is simply too adorable to resist. She brings heart and nuance to the role, and whether she’s speaking or using sign language, it’s a pleasure to watch her.

“Switched” also earns major points for introducing millions of viewers to various aspects of deaf culture. Not many TV shows, after all, have respectfully explored the cochlear implant issue, or why some deaf students choose to attend regular schools while others prefer schools geared exclusively for the deaf.

And what other show has dared to go absolutely silent for significant stretches as two deaf pals engage in an emotional signed conversation while subtitles appear at the bottom of the screen? In the case of ‘Switched at Birth,’ silence truly can be golden. It can be viewed on IMDB TV as of this posting.

Source:  The Mercury and IMDV.com

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"The Heart Guy" (U.S. title of "Doctor Doctor").

ENTERTAINMENT – “The Heart Guy” a SMASH HIT on Acorn TV Through Amazon Prime

Hugh Knight is barred from operating for a year in his Sydney practice as a heart surgeon.

The Heart Guy is an Australian series called Doctor, Doctor by its Aussie creators. When it reached Acorn TV, where I watched it, it became The Heart Guy. This is a review of season 1 only. The series has four completed seasons with a fifth on the way.

Rodger Corser (Glitch) stars as Dr. Hugh Knight, the heart doctor in the title. The show revolves around him, but has a large cast with plenty of interesting characters and subplots to keep the story moving along at a rapid pace. Season 1 had 10 episodes.

 

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Hugh Knight is barred from operating for a year in his Sydney practice as a heart surgeon. Mostly because he’s an overgrown adolescent who can’t control his mouth or his behavior. Being a brilliant doctor doesn’t save you from everything. He’s sent to his hometown of Whyhope to work as a general practitioner for a year.

Rodger Corser stars in “The Heart Guy,” (U.S. titled from “Doctor Doctor”) on Acorn TV through Amazon Prime.

…he’s an overgrown adolescent who can’t control his mouth or his behavior.

Hugh Knight’s life in Whyhope is split between his family, which you see to Rodger Corser’s right in the photo above, and his work in the Whyhope Hospital where the folks to Rodger Corser’s left in the photo work. Also to his left are some characters we don’t meet until season 2.

 

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I may not get to everyone in the photo in this review, but let’s talk about the two women on the stools to each side of Hugh.

Rodger Corser, Hayley McElhinney, and Nicole Da Silva, Chloe Bayliss, Tina Bursil, and Ryan Johnson, Matt Castler and Belinda Bromilow star as cast in “The Heart Guy,” (U.S. titled for “Doctor Doctor.”)

Charlie and Hugh were a thing back in high school.

On his right is his sister-in-law Charlie (Nicole da Silva) who is the reason I started watching the series after seeing the trailer. I’m a big fan of hers from Wentworth and follow her anywhere. Charlie and Hugh were a thing back in high school. When he broke her heart and went off to become a heart surgeon she married his brother Matt (Ryan Johnson).

 

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The rivalries, jealousies, and affections between the three of them are an ongoing source of story lines in the series. Both Hugh and Matt harbor bad feelings towards their parents, especially their father.

To Rodger Corser’s left is Penny (Hayley McElhinney), his boss at the Whyhope Hospital. They clash about everything but they need each other and have to learn to work together. They may also fall in love, but that isn’t spelled out completely in season 1. Hugh does have a problem committing to a relationship.

He managed to make me care about him in spite of the fact that he’s an ass toward women.

Hugh is an arrogant prick (his own description). He’s handsome and charming and SO MUCH TROUBLE. Women know better than to care about him, but they all fall in love with him anyway. I was impressed with the way Rodger Corser played Hugh. He managed to make me care about him in spite of the fact that he’s an ass toward women. No small feat.

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While Hugh may be an arrogant, adolescent, prick of an man, he’s a truly caring doctor. That’s his saving grace. When we see him in action to help a patient, save a life, or offer a brilliant diagnosis we realize that he is actually a good man. Two particularly important patients Hugh serves in season 1 are his father Jim (Steve Bisley) and his best friend Joey (Dave Eastgate).

Hugh’s mother Meryl (Tina Bursill) is a force of nature. She wants to be mayor of the small town and is adept and getting her way. When the season begins Hugh thinks Ajax (Matt Castley), who was adopted by his parents, is his younger brother. Ajax has a devoutly Christian girlfriend Hayley (Chloe Bayliss) who worships at Meryl’s feet and is her campaign manager, social media manager and much more. And she’s only 16, like Ajax. The story about Ajax turns out to be more than Hugh expected and provides quite a lot of conflict as the season progresses.

The story about Ajax turns out to be more than Hugh expected and provides quite a lot of conflict as the season progresses.

The series is full of lighthearted drama and many, many laughs.

Season 1 had all male directors. The series creators Ian Collie, Alan Harris, Claudia Karvan and Tony McNamara shared the writing credits for season 1 with several women writers who did selected episodes.

I’ll definitely watch season 2 of The Heart Guy and look forward to reviewing it here. Have you seen this series? What did you think of it?

Source: Old Ain’t Dead and IMDB

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The Sounds on Acorn TV through Amazon Prime.

ENTERTAINMENT – “The Sounds” on Prime Through Acorn TV, To Watch Or Not

Over the past decade of watching “Prestige TV”, one trope has annoyed us more than almost anything else: The writers of a show purposely holding back information from the audience to perpetuate a mystery, even though what’s going on in the current timeline doesn’t move the story along much. When it’s not done well, we can feel the manipulation. The Sounds is a limited series that promises a lot of mysterious twists and turns. But does it earn any of them?

THE SOUNDS: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

Opening Shot: A fully-clothed woman splashes into the water, as we see from beneath the surface. A man grabs hold of her ankle and snatches a pendant from around her neck. She kicks him and swims away.

The Gist: Maggie Cabbott (Rachelle Lefevre) arrives in New Zealand from Vancouver, and meets her husband Tom (Matt Whelan) at the airport. She hasn’t seen him in weeks, while he’s finalized a deal to build a sustainable salmon fishery in the small town of Pelorus. As they drive into town, they have an argument that involves her mistrust of him to get the deal done, but it seems to be quickly resolved.

On the first day in town, Maggie not only notices how friendly everyone is, but is stunned by the scenery and the beautiful boat that they’re going to live in, which Tom named Maggie.

Rachelle Lefevre stars in The Sounds on Acorn TV viewed through Amazon Prime.

They soon go to a small ceremony where Tom signs the deal with his business partner Stuart McGregor (Peter Elliott); his brother Jack (Matt Nable) is the local police chief. But while Tom is making a speech a local who is against the fishery, Pania Cottle (Vanessa Rare) voices her objections, claiming that the “soul-sucking” project will irrevocably damage the Sounds around the town. After the ceremony, Maggie also sees Stuart’s wife stumble about and Tom get in a dispute with a couple of individuals.

 

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But the important thing is that the project is going forward; the couple celebrate by taking the boat out to an isolated cove. The next morning, Tom takes his kayak out while Maggie is sleeping. After going about her day figuring Tom will be back, she realizes that he isn’t and calls mayday. Jack and his deputy Kath (Tandi Wright) come out and the search begins. As Jack tries to soothe Maggie, she finds meth and a pipe wrapped in a t-shirt, and she takes pains to hide that from Jack.

 

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When she’s finally convinced by Jack to go ashore, the first person she calls is Tom’s brother Nate (Josh McKenzie), who is CEO of the very powerful and influential company founded by their father Frank (John Bach).

Matt Whelan stars in The Sounds on Acorn TV viewed through Amazon Prime.

It turns out that Tom is the “black sheep” of the Cabbott family, who’d rather use his family’s wealth for good than to just make even more money. Nate and Frank put the company’s crack accountant/investigator Esther Ishikawa (Emily Piggford) on the case.

As the search wears on and evidence that points to Tom’s death keep cropping up, we learn a secret or two about the increasingly distraught Maggie. One is that she and Tom had a baby but are currently childless. Two is that, even during their romantic night before Tom disappeared, they were having an argument about the business deal that seemed to involve more than just farming salmon.

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What Shows Will It Remind You Of? For some reason, this show is giving us the same vibes as the first season of The Affair, where we’re tasked with piecing together a story using flashbacks while the real-time narrative is going on at the same time.

Our Take: The Sounds, a joint Canada-New Zealand production created by Sarah-Kate Lynch, wants us to do just what we described in the section above, which is piece together the mystery that we’re faced with while the story unfolds at the same time. Presenting the story that way, however, can be tricky to do well, because you want the audience to not feel like they’re being purposely kept in the dark just to move the mystery forward. At the end of the first episode, however, that’s exactly what’s happening, and not in a way that feels earned.

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Most of the first episode, after Tom disappears, consists of Maggie telling Jack that she should be out there, then lamenting that the search isn’t continuing through heavy downpours and no visibility. The real story comes during the flashbacks, which we’re only given bits and pieces of information, stuff that every character seems to be keeping secret, rendering what’s going on in the present predictable and boring.

Rachelle Lefevre in The Sounds on Acorn TV viewed through Amazon Prime.

Lefevre has been in projects we’ve liked but a lot we’ve hated (Under The Dome, Proven Innocent), and her standard stares into middle distance haven’t helped those projects one bit. She does a lot of that in this first episode, with her emotions swinging from stoic determination all the way to misty-eyed determination. She does a better job in The Sounds than she has in some of her more recent projects, but emotional range has never been her strong suit, and we can see that here.

Nable has the better role as Jack, whose entire family lives in town but has to deal with drama involving his daughter and the baby girl that she left in his care. That’s on top of his duties as chief, and as someone who needs to make sure that Maggie doesn’t run off half-cocked and get herself hurt. Nable has to shoulder more, at least in the first episode, and he’s up to the task.

Also: It’s pretty obvious, even before we get to the end of the episode, that Tom isn’t dead, even when the rescue operation is downgraded to a recovery operation. That foreknowledge pretty much kills whatever suspense the first episode may have had.

Sex and Skin: None.

Parting Shot: We see Tom turning over his kayak, swimming to shore, pulling out a bigger kayak and putting on a sweater and knit cap. As he stares into the distance, we wonder what his plan is.

Sleeper Star: Piggford, who plays Ishikawa, will have a bigger role once she lands in New Zealand to investigate Tom’s disappearance. She already seems to be nonchalant about working for the Cabbotts, despite some of the ethically-questionable shenanigans they’re up to. So it’ll be interesting to see how she interacts with Maggie, Jack and the folks in town.

Most Pilot-y Line: Local mail boat skipper Ru Kelliher (Tainui Tukiwaho) asks Tom “I bet you’re gagging to jump aboard Maggie, eh?,” which alarms Maggie until she realizes that their new boat is named after her. Oh, those cheeky Kiwis!

Our Call: STREAM IT. This is a marginal recommendation because we’re hoping The Sounds gets better as the mystery progresses. But in the slow first episode, not a lot happens, which makes us even more annoyed when information is purposely held back from viewers.

Source: The Decider, IMDB

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