The FX Network became a major player in the cable world with “Sons of Anarchy,” “American Horror Story” and “Justified.” Its latest offering, “The Americans,” only adds to the quality the cable channel has to offer.
The series debuts at 10 p.m. Jan. 30 on FX.
“The Americans” looks at what appears to be a typical suburban couple — played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys — living the American Dream during the early years of the Ronald Reagan administration. They’re actually two KGB agents who have been living a secret life for almost 15 years.
It’s a dark and thrilling look at the spy game during the peak of the Cold War. It’s not your typical Americans-are-better series because its told from the point of view of the Russians. The natural tendency is to hate them but the series shows that behind the cold determination of the spies are two humans trying to deal with love, parenting and a mortgage.
Russell’s performance is particularly strong because the series doesn’t take the usual tactic when it comes to spies. Her character is the one who has the unwavering loyalty to the Motherland while Rhys plays the role of realist who knows if they continue their ploy, it can only end badly. Russell is anything but the typical casting to play a female Russian spy which makes the deception all the more believable.
It’s not unusual for Australian or English actors to take on a role in a TV show where they have to do an American accent. But, the casting of Matthew Rhys in the new FX series “The Americans” sets up a very complicated accent situation. He’s a Brit who’s playing a Russian who’s pretending to be an American.
Rhys laughs and says the way he handles the complex language task is to just put himself in the place of the character.
“In some ways, he would have to be more American than many Americans,” Rhys says in his natural British accent. “However, if my American accent ever slips I can always blame it on being Russian.”
This accent juggling is so Rhys can play a Russian KGB agent who’s secretly been living in American for almost 15 years. With his arranged wife (Keri Russell) who also is a spy, they bounce during the early years of the Ronald Reagan administration between living a normal life as parents of two and spying for the Motherland.
It’s easier to get drugs in Hollywood than forgiveness. Ask Brett Butler.
Back in 1993, Butler looked poised to be the next Roseanne Barr with her comedy series “Grace Under Fire.” The series lasted 112 troubled episodes remembered more for Butler’s diva attitude than the comedy.
Whether it was bad advice, a lousy attitude, drugs, emotional baggage, outside forces or a mix of the all, Butler went from heir to the comedy kingdom to an outcast we hadn’t seen until Charlie Sheen’s winning rants.
Many of those who worked with Butler won’t even talk about how hard it was to do the show. Butler says that former Fresno mayor Alan Autry was one of the few people she worked with at that time who didn’t turn their back on her. Autry’s in a small minority as most of Hollywood watch Butler spiral down to the point she was living in a homeless shelter.
She may still be an outcast to many, but Butler’s back. It reads like a huge bit of irony, but Butler has a recurring role on the new Charlie Sheen FX comedy “Anger Management.”
“Charlie and I go way back,” says Butler at a recent Fox party. “He’s the one who recommended me for the job but I thought he was just being nice because he really is a nice guy. But, then it happened.”
All of the first season episodes have been wrapped and now Butler waits to see if she will be doing a second year. While she waits, Butler has a role on the daytime drama, “The Young and the Restless.” Neither role is a headling part but when you have dug an emotional grave as deep as Butler’s the only way out is with small steps.
The work helps, but Butler’s also found a new emotional center. She’s tapped into her psychic abilities.
“Unsupervised,” 10:30 p.m. FX: The quirky cable channel animated series follows the lives of two eternally optimistic best friends – Gary (voiced by Justin Long) and Joel (voiced by David Hornsby). The buddies try to do the right things in life but that can be a little difficult at times because they have absolutely no parental guidance.
Tonight’s episode, “Stupid Idiots,” has the pair staging an uprising at school to end academic segregation. It will come as no surprise to fans of “Unsupervised” that Gary and Joel are not part of the stronger academic circles at school.
The series has some strong credentials as it’s created and executive produced by Rob Rosell, Scott Marder and Hornsby who are all writers and producers on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” That should tell you that this is not your typical animated offering.
Other voice talents include Kristen Bell, Romany Malco and Rosell.
Every time I watch “Justified” on FX — seriously, one of the best shows on TV, btw — I see this commercial for “Two and a Half Men” that says it’s on “weeknights and Thursdays.” Huh? Isn’t that like me saying this blog is online and on the Internet?
Each time I see the commercial, my little brain sputters to decipher its meaning. Each time, I’m stumped. So I’m asking you, Beehivers, am I just really dense and I’m missing it? Or is somebody at FX just a moron?