Saturday, 10 October 2009
TV REVIEW: The Blackburns (Series Premiere)
The Blackburns (Mediamix Productions)
When: Sundays, 9:00 pm
Tyrone’s Verdict: B-
The Blackurns, the much-touted spin-off of the long-running Jamaican ‘soap’ Royal Palm Estate, opens with two free-spirited PYTs (pretty young things) – college girls Kimala and Tash – heading to a secluded beach. There, they encounter two surfer dudes, Marcus and Moses, a pair of identical twins played by Icah and Inilek, who are also enrolled in university.
The guys strike up a conversation with the girls, but before long the lines are drawn. While Tash (Stacy-Ann Bennett) is willing to spare the boys a few minutes, Kimala (played by singer Keisha Patterson) does her best impression of the posh, uptight ‘browning.’ When the boys leave, she makes it clear to her friend that she doesn’t date guys who have no “pedigree.” Really now. Later, she jokingly explains to her friend, “Any man with the last name Campbell can’t have much pedigree.” Terrifying stuff.
They say life imitates art, and writer/director/producer Lennie Little-White and his Mediamix gang have never shied away from tackling class and prejudice, the dynamics of uptown versus the ghetto, from the days when Ted Blackburn roamed the earth. But where is the room for freshness and growth? Especially when the intention here, clearly, is to introduce viewers to a new generation of Blackburns, a fresh spin on life on and around the estate and the wider society at large. It’s certainly time to shake things up a little.
Since Mediamix undoubtedly expects The Blackburns to make the jump from groping debutante to bonafide mainstream hit, kicking the show off this way sends mixed messages. The rest of the first episode is a dizzying but frequently amusing pileup of promising and potentially fruitful premises and plotlines, most of which pick up where Royal Palm Estate ended after more than twenty seasons.
Movie star Tanya Blackburn (the radiant Maylynne Walton) has just received a flashy new motor vehicle from her brother C.C. (Billy Wilmot), which estate handyman Stringbeans (Michael Nicholson) foolishly hops into for a test drive without permission. After a strong reprimand from C.C. he is given his walking papers.
Elsewhere, the flamboyant fashion designer Alexei Goldberg (Dahlia Harris) is in for a surprise when his past comes back to haunt him, after Matthew Robinson (Peter Lloyd) starts asking probing questions. A hilarious chase scene through busy Half Way Tree is one of the episode’s highlights.
And it seems Richard Blackburn (Adam Hyde), who we find in the arms of Tracey (Tanya Stephens) is about to make a comeback. Where was he? Spending time with someone named Mama E in some bushy locale, where “he learned so much.” And finally, it seems fashion photographer Justin (singer Cezar) and his model girlfriend Crystal (Noelle Kerr) may be headed for splitsville. And is the seductive Tanya Blackburn to blame?
So far, there’s not one character as compelling as Trevor Madden, let alone the discarded Sonny T. And the smash-up of high drama and light comedy with hints of suspense, manifested in the carryings-on of the old faces and new characters, will definitely take a while to fully appeal to some. Still, many Jamaican viewers are diehards for this sort of thing, and at least The Blackburns represents a fraction in the evolution of Jamaican pop culture.
Catch The Blackburns Sunday nights at 9 on CVM, and look out for exclusive interviews with the cast on TALLAWAH.