By Nate Bloom
Canadian Landsmen All Over the Tube
I am actually looking forward to seeing the sit-com, “Working the Engels,” a Canadian-American co-production that starts tonight. It stars the very funny Andrea Martin (who is Armenian/Canadian; but often plays Jews) with Canadian EUGENE LEVY, 67, her former “SCTV” co-star. Martin plays Ceil Engel. Her lawyer husband died suddenly and left her family in deep debt. She and the rest of the family go to work at her husband’s storefront law firm. The problem is that only one family member, daughter Jenna, a newly-minted lawyer, is qualified to practice law. Levy appears in a recurring role as Arthur Horowitz, a prominent nice-guy (Jewish) attorney who is secretly a bit sweet on his neighbor, Ceil, and is hoping to retire and give a few good clients to Jenna. Levy’s real-life daughter, SARAH LEVY, 27, plays his daughter, IRENE HOROWITZ. One reviewer states, “Irene may seem like a good Jewish girl, but underneath is a wild, bad girl in training – seeking experience, danger, and the arms of her hot neighbor, Jimmy Engel.” Meanwhile, Martin Short, another hilarious SCTV veteran, plays a pastry mogul who used to be sweet on Ceil when he was a hippie baker in the ‘70s, but now he’s embroiled in a lawsuit with one of Jenna’s clients.
“Seed” is a Canadian TV comedy that was just renewed for its second season. The CW (American) station picked-up the first season for broadcast and it will premiere early next week. It stars ADAM KORSON, 32, who grew up in a Toronto suburb, as Harry, a likeable bartender who discovers he has offspring from his sperm donations. The series focuses on his relationship with his biological kids and their families.
The Holocaust Meets Vampires
“The Strain”, a horror/detective drama, begins this weekend. The TV show stars COREY STOLL, 38, who is best known for his Oscar nominated role in “Midnight in Paris” (Hemingway) and his Golden Gold nominated role in “House of Cards” (Peter Russo). The premiere “Strain” episode begins with a plane landing at JFK airport with the lights off and doors sealed. Epidemiologist Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (played by Stoll) and his team are sent to investigate. On board they find two hundred corpses and four survivors. The situation deteriorates when the bodies begin disappearing from morgues and, shortly thereafter, there’s a mysterious viral outbreak that has the “hallmarks” of vampirism.
It turns out that a Professor Abraham Setrakian, a Holocaust survivor turned pawn-shop owner, has answers about the outbreak (John Hurt plays Setrakian in the pilot. David Bradley plays him thereafter. Newcomer Jim Watson plays Setrakian in flashback concentration camp scenes). The back story on Setrakian: A Romanian Jew, he escaped from a Nazi death camp. After that, he met and battled vampires and, while elderly, he can still swing a sword and kill them. He knows the habits and biology of vampires and wants to pass on his knowledge to Goodweather. (Not your average zaideh type!)
Director/writer/ and sometime actor PAUL MAZURSKY, who died on June 30, age 84, was a great unsung genius who, more than anyone, “got it right” in the films he made which were “Jewish-flavored” or had explicitly Jewish characters. So, please treat yourself and binge-view these flicks – his “most Jewish” – for a real kosher treat: “I Love You Alice B. Toklas” (1968); “Next Stop Greenwich Village” (1976); and “Enemies: A Love Story” (1989). Basically, ignore the “Alice” title. It’s the tale of a very conventional Jewish attorney (played by the late PETER SELLERS) whose meshugeneh brother is a hippie. The depiction of the attorney’s Jewish parents and fiancée is hilarious without being mean. The attorney’s quest for more meaning in life by adopting (for a time) the hippie life is funny and touching, but not silly. The movie also features a brief scene with the real-life “twin cantors”. They were huge on the Jewish wedding circuit during the ‘60s. Meanwhile, while “Next Stop” is not that great a film, it is “very Jewish” – and it is basically an autobiography of Mazursky’s life just before he headed out to Hollywood to become an actor (he got some roles, but directing was where he made his mark). Much better is “Enemies,” based on a novel by ISSAC BASHEVIS SINGER. It was the only film taken from his work that Singer really liked. The late RON SILVER stars in this comedy/drama about a Holocaust survivor in New York who has to juggle the three women in his life.