Monday, April 06, 2015

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles - Episode 1.1 - Review

"The Lizzie Borden Chronicles" debuted on Sunday, April 5. Lifetime Network is likely stepping up its "darker" programming on Sunday nights to win over some fans of horror who are missing "The Walking Dead." WGN premiered season two of "Salem" the same night. It seems smart that the networks waited until after season five of "The Walking Dead" ended.

This is the fictionalized telling of the story four months following Lizzie Borden's trial in which she was accused of killing her parents and acquitted. I tried to re-watch the re-airing of the movie, Lizzie Borden Took an Ax the night before. It's still difficult for me to like the sickening charm Lizzie (Christina Ricci) lathers on her father or her sister Emma (Clea DuVall). I also couldn't enjoy the modern rock music juxtaposed in the 19th century setting. Some think it's cool, but I think it is obvious that the creators are trying to be obviously different because the movie and, now, the TV series lack a few things. Character development being one of those things.

One of my favorite lines in the first episode subtly alludes to Lizzie being a lesbian when she's answering her sister Emma's question about what she has imagined her husband to be: "I never imagined a husband." If you didn't recall that Lizzie Borden had a half-brother in Ax, don't worry because he wasn't actually in it. He shows up suddenly in the TV series, stirring up trouble, of course, with flaunting a secret held by the sisters. Emma seems to be up for a back story in one of the seven more episodes in this eight-episode series.

There's a B-story involving an investigator named Charlie (Cole Hauser), who starts to look into the murders. Also, William Almy (John Heard) is suing the Borden estate for the debt owed by their late father. Other interesting characters include Lizzie's former elementary school teacher. She offers little insight into Lizzie's wrath on people. The series spends a lot of time repeating flash backs to scenes from Ax, and has lesser horrific moments of dead things in the dark.

Episode one wasn't terrible, but it makes me wary of the next seven. Little things stand out such as the noticeable historic inaccuracy: how is a character able to use a flashlight in 1893? I haven't spent loads of time searching, but what I've seen so far on the internet is that flashlights didn't become available until as early as 1896. Infrequent clever moments, as in Lizzie's reference to the Dickens story Bleak House. However, the charm act is old. I will still continue on in case Jonathan Banks saves a scene or two from being intolerably a drag.

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