Thursday, July 24, 2008

Series-ly Good

Somehow Bart came across a delightfully quirky movie called Sordid Lives. It strings together various storylines of (dare I say) White Trash folks. The major one is three grown women dealing with the death of their mother. It’s a comedy. A dark comedy. I won’t spoil how the matriarch died (hilarious!) or even the other lines of story in case you decide to watch this wonderful mess. (I say mess in relation to the people’s…um…sordid lives, not the script or production.)

Written by Del Shores, it began as a stage play. He also wrote said stage play. And directed it, as well as the movie. Obviously he is either very controlling or very passionate about his work. I’d guess a healthy combination of both.

The reason I am bringing it up, however, is that last night Sordid Lives: The Series [also by Del Shores] aired on Logo television. Many of the same actors (including one of my favorites, Leslie Jordan and the incomparable Beth Grant and yes, even Olivia Newton-John) have returned for the series. Quite a blessing, given their amazing performances in the movie.

However, the fact that there is a television series based on a movie is not what makes me write about it now. Not a new phenomenon at all. It’s been done many times, to both great success and miserable failure. But this one? Sordid Lives pulls a glorious trick that to my knowledge, has not been done before. And I take my hat (if I wore one, which I used to do all the time) off to Del Shores for this endeavor, what I believe to be a unique idea: The series begins before the movie does. In other words, it backtracks to when mother has not yet died and she is now a seen character played by Rue McClanahan. It’s far enough back in time that we are seeing a lot more in depth of the characters. Leslie Jordan’s final scene in this first episode I found particularly moving, especially knowing what would come for "Brother Boy."

Imagine, though, the fun to be had in revisiting your own work some 8 years later to expand it in this capacity! I’d certainly love it. I’m always interested in the original creator(s) building outwardly on a story. Especially when it’s as good or better than the source material. Both Bart and I laughed out loud many times during the half hour. Sympathetic, tender moments quieted us, as I mentioned with Jordan.

We’re looking forward to the rest of it. TiVo will faithfully obtain it all for us. And it comes on right after Project Runway. What could be better?

Thank you, Del Shores and company for your marvelous exploration of storytelling! Bravo!


Mel said...

Rats! If only I got Logo!

Danielle Mari said...

You KNOW I'm a fan of the great Leslie Jordan...
"Why if it isn't Karen Walker! I thought I smelled gin and regret..."