” ON TV; “EAST WING” PREVIEW
A TV Review by Tim Riley
“BRAVE NEW WORLD” ON PEACOCK NETWORK
Maybe we don’t have enough streaming service providers, so NBCUniversal has launched the Peacock network, a three-tiered subscription service of which one is free if you don’t mind advertising.Named after the ubiquitous colorful logo of NBC, Peacock gets its start with streaming a few original programs, one of them being “Brave New World,” loosely based on Aldous Huxley’s groundbreaking 1932 novel which imagines a utopian society.Actually, while the intention of the new world order envisions a place that has achieved peace and stability, “Brave New World” realizes a society that is a dystopian nightmare for any sentient being who operates with free will and independent thought. The citizens of New London live in a sanitized environment that is almost as cold and sterile as Stalinist architecture, which seems fitting for a place where real human emotion is frowned upon or taboo.
The series begins by noting the three rules to be followed by all inhabitants of New London: no privacy, no family and no monogamy. Follow these rules, and it is said that “everyone is very happy” in this faux nirvana. Just like any authoritarian regime, New London functions under a caste system where the elite rule and are known as Alphas and the next level Betas exist with few worries other than when to pop a mood-altering pill called soma.The bottom of the rung belongs to the custodial class known as Epsilons. Their lives are regimented as they march in order and take their meals in a communal dining room where they act no more animated than robots.
For the amusement of the privileged, Alphas and Betas may take a vacation to a remote spot known as the Savage Lands Adventure Park, where people you might find living in trailer parks are gawked at like circus freaks.Bernard Marx (Harry Lloyd), an Alpha Plus, and Lenina Crowne (Jessica Brown Findlay), a Beta Plus, take a trip to Savage Lands, where visitors may be amused by the staging of the frenzy of a Black Friday melee at a big-box store. Things go awry when Bernard and Lenina become embroiled in a harrowing and violent rebellion, only to be rescued by John the Savage (Alden Ehrenreich), who along with his alcoholic mother Linda (Demi Moore) escapes with them back to New London. Wary of the attention coming his way in New London, John the Savage can’t help feeling out of place when cybernetic locals proclaim their desire to help him “transition from the primitive world of hardship, strife to ours…a society of harmony and happiness.”
Were “Brave New World” to have a rating for its language, violence and rampant promiscuous sex, it would deserve the letter R. The shiny veneer of New London is not paradise by any measure, unless being braindead is a good thing.The deeper one gets into the episodes, the more interesting it becomes with John the Savage the catalyst for stirring up cosmic disturbances in the neatly-ordered world that the residents take for granted. “Brave New World” charts a fascinating journey into a dystopian world of scary groupthink. At one point, John mentions to a leader, “You’ve got the whole thing rigged.” As an outsider, will John mess up the tidy order of New London?
“EAST WING” ON STARZ
The East Wing is part of the White House complex that has office space for the First Lady and her staff, and better-known West Wing serves the president’s executive office staff.“The West Wing” was a popular series on the NBC network that worked its way through countless political donnybrooks and scandals during two terms of the fictional Democratic administration of Martin Sheen’s President Jed Bartlet. The Starz cable channel has announced that Debra Messing will star in the half-hour comedy “East Wing” currently in development, with no particular premiere date in mind.“East Wing” is created and written by actress and author Ali Wentworth, who is drawing from the experiences of her mother, Muffie Cabot, who served a couple of years in the White House as the Social Secretary for First Lady Nancy Reagan.As with any of these types of programs, expect dramatic license with the story of Messing’s fictional Hollis Carlisle, a hostess extraordinaire who juggles her threatened husband, rebellious children, Nancy Reagan’s Chief of Staff and a crippling social anxiety disorder.
Wentworth has a reoccurring part as Hollis’s best friend, Kelly Forces, a stay-at-home mom who is threatened by Hollis’s success. Apparently, the husband is not the only threatened party. Maybe there will be others as well.For promotional puffery, the president of Starz programming claimed the show is “a whip-smart comedy that despite its 1980’s set dressing is a pointed commentary on politics and the politics of being a woman today.” Starz also claims that Messing, Wentworth and other cast regulars “will most definitely not be pulling any punches,” whatever that means. When the times comes, the audience, as it always does, will render its own judgment.