Wednesday, June 22, 2016

‘American Gothic’ Presents Another Guilty Pleasure

Justin Chatwin and Megan Ketch in "American Gothic"
Justin Chatwin (Cam Hawthorne), Megan Ketch (Tessa Ross) (CBS)
TV
As is the tradition, CBS’s new limited series for summer, American Gothic, is ripe for the season. As with former shows like Under the Dome and Extant, American Gothic probably wouldn’t be taken seriously if it were aired any other time of the year, but for summer viewing, it just seems right. The theme is dark, the storyline is preposterous but is also surprisingly funny. The black comedy/drama centers on an ideal (rich) family who, not surprisingly, have a lot of buried secrets and a few start to come unearthed in tonight’s pilot episode.
 

As we find out in short order, Boston was once rocked by a string of murders caused by the mysterious “Silver Bells Killer” 14 years ago. Apparently, this killer's trademark was to leave behind a silver bell next to the victim. (Seems to me that the victims should have heard the killer coming if they were carrying a bell with them, but I digress.) After a strange occurrence, the case is re-opened and members of the prestigious Hawthorne family realize that someone or some ones of their family may be linked to the crimes. As the show progresses, more secrets will be revealed which will cause more paranoia among the family.
 

In the pilot, the patriarch of the family, Mitchell Hawthorne (Jamey Sheridan) suddenly has trouble with heart and long lost prodigal son Garrett (Antony Starr) comes home seemingly trying to make amends. Mother Madeline (Virginia Madsen) appears to be sweet and caring but we know there is more to that story. Where he has been and what he has been doing remains a mystery. Meanwhile, brother Cam (Justin Chatwin) is battling a drug addiction while raising his disturbed son. Political sister Juliet is happily married with twin daughters but is cautiously working hard to keep up appearances. And there is sister Tessa (Megan Ketch) who is happily married to a policeman, wanting to have children of her own and appears to be the only one of this family who is who she says she is. For now at least. Things are bound to get worse before they get better.

Now, there might not be any redeeming reason to watch this show other than the fact that there is a mystery to solve. If murder and mayhem isn’t your thing, look away. Yes, the different storylines are disturbing, but not so much as to take the show too seriously.
 

Since this is a limited series, it should have a solid beginning, middle and end which makes for better storytelling in my opinion. Tessa appears to be the one we are supposed to be rooting for which is fine by me. She’s very likeable, if not a little naïve. (You may remember the actress from her small roles in Under the Dome, Blue Bloods or The Good Wife.) If the show plays out like I think it will, good (in the form of Tessa) will win out over evil (whoever that might be).

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