Tag Archive: WGN America


The movie-going world first met Anna Paquin when she co-starred in Jane Campion’s The Piano, which earned her the Academy Award for her supporting role at age 11–the second youngest Oscar winner in history.  As the New Zealand actress gained experience in her craft she went on to star in True Blood, which earned her a Golden Globe Award.  These days she’s best known as Rogue in the X-Men series, appearing in four X-Men movies so far.  This past fall she starred as a murder victim in Netflix’s 19th century historical drama series Alias Grace, and this month U.S. audiences were introduced to her performance as a cop in one of the better episodes of season one of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams.  This week she returns to television in a starring role again as a cop in the new series Bellevue on WGN America.

Paquin continues to show her Oscar and Golden Globe wins were deserved.  The actor has a command of the stage, and consistently her presence in a scene brings authority to her characters.  In Bellevue we meet a down-to-Earth side of Paquin as she plays Detective Annie Ryder, a local institution in her small town, whose brash personality and working class roots put her at odds with other officers in her department and every other faction in the town of Bellevue.  Her new case is locating a missing young man, a local hockey player and celebrity of sorts who we learn had a transgendered lifestyle and possibly was being counseled by a priest at a local church.  Paquin’s Ryder has her own odd sense of humor as she makes the best of handling a daughter, a sad sack ex-husband, and the residents of a mining town with a newly closed mine and a newly opened brewery.  The first episode really kicks in as we watch Ryder find a connection between the recent crime and strange messages left to her after her father’s suicide when she was a child.

You can see bits and pieces of a myriad of dark-murder-mystery genre TV and film in Bellevue, everything from the dark creepy vibe of Haven, Grimm, Twin Peaks, The Returned, The X-Files, and Wayward Pines–minus the supernatural elements–along with the serious crime material of Broadchurch, Fargo, and Thirteen.  As for its pacing, this Canada production for WGN America is presented like many British mystery series–there seems to be more time spent in study of each scene, as found in better mysteries like Shetland or Hinterlands.  One episode in and it already is more compelling than The Killing.  For current audiences Bellevue may feel more like Riverdale–the series pilot even has Ryder’s daughter recounting a past murder in the small town as Jughead often narrates in Riverdale.

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Manhattan screencap

A brief trailer premiered this weekend on WGN America during the unfortunately abysmal premiere of Brannon Braga’s new series Salem, for another production coming to the network this summer.  That new series is Manhattan, and it follows Salem as the second original scripted series for WGN America.  Both series are billed as historical fiction, but Manhattan appears to fit the genre better than could be gleaned from episode one of Salem, at least based on our first look.  The sets for Manhattan look great, and the actors look like real people from the era.

Manhattan

Manhattan will star John Benjamin Hickey (Law & Order, In Plain Sight), Daniel Stern (Home Alone, City Slickers), and Olivia Williams.  The series focuses on the lives of the scientists involved in the Manhattan Project who secretly developed the first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico, between 1942 and 1946.  The big selling point is Olivia Williams, an actress whose work stands out in all her film and TV appearances, often one of the only things worth seeing about the production (Rushmore, Dollhouse).  Williams has headlined movies big and small, from The Postman to The Sixth Sense.  And she can be seen in Spaced, X-Men: The Last Stand, and Sabotage.

Here’s the first trailer for Manhattan:

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