Delivering the male
Published: October 12, 2011
Masterpiece Mystery (8pm Sun, PBS) Just when you think TV doesn’t need another detective, here comes Jackson Brodie (Jason Issacs) in “Case Histories,” the new series under the Masterpiece Mystery heading. Jackson is not psychic, obsessive-compulsive, bionic, or Swedish. He’s such a rounded, appealing character that he doesn’t need a gimmick to hold our attention. Jackson’s specialty is taking on insoluble cold cases in his native Edinburgh, and he’s got too big a heart to turn down an earnest request from a still-grieving family member. We learn about him over the course of his investigations, and the more we learn, the more we like him. He’s a divorced dad who’s devoted to his young daughter and a still-grieving family member himself, puzzling over his sister’s unsolved murder. Issacs plays the part with just the right combination of gravitas and wit.
As Jackson pokes around in decades-old crimes, a woman wonders, “Why are you digging all this up again?”
Don’t even ask. Just sit back and enjoy.
Sing Your Song (8pm Mon, HBO) As a child, I found a 1950s Harry Belafonte record amid the drippy pre-rock ’n’ roll pop in my parents’ music collection. It served as my gateway to an exciting world of blues, folk, protest songs, and civil rights issues — subversive stuff that must have seemed safe to my parents because of Belafonte’s irresistible charm. I remember wiping away a tear at the story-song “Sylvie,” in which a prisoner yearns for a true love who never comes to visit him. I kept wishing she would one day.
The documentary Sing Your Song confirms Belafonte’s subversive intent. As an African-American actor, singer, and activist, he bravely fought racism in the 1950s and ’60s from his perch as a mainstream star. We watch him push for integration, ally himself with Martin Luther King Jr., and experience blowback from the powers that be.
As a bonus, we get to see many of Belafonte’s charismatic performances. One of them is my beloved “Sylvie,” in which the girl still hasn’t come to see her man in prison. Maybe one day.
Dean Robbins covers television entertainment for the Current. Read his longer complete column each week, only at sacurrent.com.