SPOILERTV.COM – “Dead to Me” – Tuesday, June 28, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) – TV-MA-LSV
As the boys gear up for Pope’s birthday, Smurf wants to know if they’re playing by her rules. J learns more about his mother’s estrangement from the family.
Directed by Karen Gaviola
Written by Etan Frankel
SPOILERTV.COM – Episode 103: “Stay Close, Stick Together” – Tuesday, June 21, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) – TV-MA-LS
While Craig recovers from a wound, Baz and Craig deal with some old associates down in Mexico. Meanwhile, strapped for cash, Pope takes charge and ropes Deran and J into a job without Smurf’s knowledge. Threatened by J’s participation, Deran sends him a terrifying message.
DETROITNEWS.COM – Opening scene: A high school boy sits on a couch, watching a game show. Slumped next to him is the body of his mother, dead of a heroin overdose.
OK, start the party.
“Animal Kingdom,” a reworking of the brilliantly grim 2010 Australian film, is the kind of series you expect to find on AMC, FX or even HBO. How it ended up on TNT is anybody’s guess, but it’s the sort of show that can transform a network.
That boy is Josh (Finn Cole). After the ambulance takes his mother’s body away, he calls the grandmother he hasn’t seen in years, Smurf (Ellen Barkin, owning the screen). She comes to pick him up and install him at her Southern California beach community compound. There he meets his mother’s brothers (Scott Speedman, Ben Robson, Jake Weary), a group of criminal man-boys who steal at will, party hard and resort to violence as a first resort.
Pretty quickly Josh figures out why his damaged mother kept him away from this clan. That realization becomes even more clear when a fourth uncle, Andrew (Shawn Hatosy), arrives fresh from prison, resentful and full of crazy. But Josh has nowhere else to go. So he tries to adapt.
The series retains the film’s essentials — the powerful matriarch, the casual criminality — but adds elements of the original “Point Break” and “Sons of Anarchy.” These are not bad elements to add. It also stresses the tension between Barkin’s mad queen and each of her offspring, who parade around naked before her, threaten her, snort coke in front of her and yet bow to her. Barkin has been waiting for and deserving a role this good for decades, and she sinks her teeth squarely into it.
As gritty, dysfunctional family, crime-fueled dramas go, “Animal Kingdom” roars with dark promise.
Tom Long is a longtime culture critic.
9 p.m. Tuesday
POST-GAZETTE.COM – TNT’s “Southland” offered a deep dive into the working lives of Southern California patrol cops. In the dark and moody “Animal Kingdom” (9 and 10 p.m. Tuesday), TNT turns its attention to a Southern California family of surfers who are also criminals.
Both series hail from executive producer John Wells, a Carnegie Mellon University grad, and writer Jonathan Lisco, and both put an emphasis on character over plot. But it was easier to get into “Southland” where the lead characters, though flawed, usually were trying to do the right thing.
In “Animal Kingdom,” not to be confused with Disney’s theme park in Florida that uses the same name, the lead characters are all, to varying degrees, jerks. There is one exception: Young Joshua (Finn Cole), the first character viewers meet on the day his mother overdoses and dies.
Joshua is the grandson of Janine “Smurf” Cody (Ellen Barkin, fierce as ever), the manipulative, unpredictable matriarch of the Cody crime family. Joshua’s mother tried to get him away from the Cody clan, but her death sends him back into Smurf’s arms, which also leads him to get reacquainted with his four uncles, including his mother’s dangerous twin brother, Pope (Shawn Hatosy, playing a hothead again just like he did on “Southland”).
Smurf’s other sons include Baz (Scott Speedman, “Felicity”), seemingly the most sane of the bunch and Smurf’s chief lieutenant in their criminal enterprise, druggie Craig (Ben Robson) and the youngest, Deran (Jake Weary), who’s hiding a secret from his family until Joshua stumbles upon it.
The first hour of “Animal Kingdom” plays heavily on character and also introduces a running plot about a jewelry heist that goes bad. The consequences of that robbery hang over future episodes.
The show’s robbery angle and the testosterone-driven action sequences bring to mind Mr. Wells’ short-lived 2006 CBS heist drama, “Smith,” which shot its pilot episode in Pittsburgh. But with the emphasis on one family, “Animal Kingdom” is more grounded in characters. They’re an unsavory bunch and after the first hour it seemed likely I wouldn’t willingly stick with the series but after hour two, the show made me curious to see what would come next.
“Animal Kingdom,” based on a 2010 Australian film of the same title, won’t be to everyone’s taste, but fans of dark, family criminal enterprise shows (think: “Sons of Anarchy,” “Outsiders”) might be intrigued.
TVSERIESFINALE.COM – Drama is about to get even more complex and gritty at TNT. The cable channel has released the first episode of the cable channel’s viscerally intense new series, Animal Kingdom.
Animal Kingdom stars Ellen Barkin as Smurf, the fierce and manipulative matriarch of the outlaw Cody family of Southern California. The clan lives outside the fringes of society. There’s plenty of underlying tension — not just from the outside world, but also from within the family. Other members of the family are played by Scott Speedman, Shawn Hatosy, Ben Robson, Jake Weary and Finn Cole. Daniella Alonso and Molly Gordon play family members’ girlfriends.
Inspired by the 2010 Australian cult film of the same name, actress Jacki Weaver played Smurf and was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. TNT ordered a pilot in May 2015 and greenlighted the series in December. The cable channel seems committed to shifting to gritty drama series.
It was recently announced that the show will launch with a two-hour debut on June 14th, at 9pm.
I have added scans of Ben from the latest issue of TV Guide, which features his new show, which premieres in one week, Animal Kingdom. Its a great article so be sure to read it.
» Magazines & Publications > 2016 > 01. TV Guide – June 06, 2016
TVSERIESFINALE.COM – TNT is expanding its kingdom. Today, the network announced the launch of their new series Animal Kingdom has been expanded and moved to a later date.
The drama stars Ellen Barkin as the matriarch of a Southern California family involved in violent crime. Scott Speedman, Shawn Hatosy, Jake Weary and Ben Robson also star.
Now, Animal Kingdom will launch with a two-hour premiere on June 14th at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Read more details below:
TNT is expanding the premiere of its bold new drama series Animal Kingdom to two hours and moving the launch to a new date. The series will now debut with the two-hour opener on Tuesday, June 14, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT). Animal Kingdom stars Emmy(R) and Tony(R) winner Ellen Barkin (Sea of Love, This Boy’s Life, Ocean’s Thirteen), Scott Speedman (The Strangers, The Vow), Shawn Hatosy (Southland, Reckless), Ben Robson (Vikings, Dracula: The Dark Prince), Jake Weary (Pretty Little Liars, It Follows), Finn Cole (Peaky Blinders, An Inspector Calls), Daniella Alonso (Revolution) and Molly Gordon (Love the Coopers, Ithaca).”