Tuesday, 31 May 2016
T.V. REVIEW: EMPIRE Season 2
Empire Of The Son.
18 Episodes. Starring: Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Jussie Smollett, Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Grace Gealey & Kaitlin Doubleday. Created By: Lee Daniels & Danny Strong.
What the hell is going on with 'Empire's' state of mind in this Part II? How many times have they hit their head on the concrete of this jungle? Lets break it down. Season One was insane crazy...but this is the asylum. And a series that starts off with the most fashionable icon in the record company, head honcho ownership business rocking the same orange he did the day before really isn't the new black. But the incarcerating nature of fellow Fox 'Wayward Pines' star Terrence Howard's caged Lyon character sees him locked up with more 'Hustle & Flow' reunions and the legend of a terrifying gangster that likes to Hannibal Lecter people, stepping off the prison bus that looks an awful lot like...Chris Rock?! What is this? 'The Longest Yard'?! No matter just how ludicrous this gets you know the hip-hop Kingpin Lucious will make his 'Daredevil' Punisher escape from the cells before the first mid-season break. This isn't 'Prison Break'...or is it? Besides coming home there's more for the Lyon to deal with outside of his pride. And we aren't just talking about his three sons making heads roll for their shot at his throne in this music game. There's more music, murder and madness. 'Madness' you say? Well...this.is.'Empire'. And between more backstabbing than Julius Ceasar (Et tu Jaamal?) and some 'Romeo & Julliett' like lover suicides this is Shakespeare gone beyond silly. All wrapped up in enough baby mama drama for the next Lyon cub fit for the thrones grand-lyons. That will all cliffhanger climax on what looks like Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty meets the Real Housewives of New Jersey. All this going on in this New York state of madness...but will Empires fall?
Ridiculous isn't even the word anymore. This is downright...erm someone pass me a Thesauras. 'Empire' isn't the urban 'Nashville' anymore...it's 'Dallas'. With everyone out for the Lyon kings head you half expect Lucious to wake up as his greasy prison cellmate walks out the shower with a bar of soap to find out this whole season had been one, crazy dream. But as out of it's idiotic mind as this series is...you can't help but be entertained by this rap gladiator. Even if sometimes it is a nightmare...you'll wake up thinking about just what's going to happen next in a world where lent ears are eaten with a side of fava beans and "lawyers" are literally called Thirsty. Yet it's all played perfectly with power and puncuation by the trademark intensity of Terrence Howard and the acclaimed actor who has been rumoured to be trouble to work with (we dont believe it) is causing problems for everybody here. He isn't this show and seasons catalyst...he's its gasoline. It's a good job the fire of Taraji P. Henson can match his crazy because another actress of the Academy playing it up for this staged show that demands its own bizarre run on Broadway is brilliant. More than a fan favourite or has tag trend Henson is a monster as cookie. She's a beast in every scene and boy is it beautiful. In matrimony with their music and madness these two are somewhere between Whitney and Bobby and Bey and Jay. Albeit whilst making champagne out of lemons...forget lemonade.
But next to that power couple with the plug hanging out the socket what about the big three? And we aren't talking about King James and his Cavalier men. We're talking about the sons of the sins of the father. Well Jussie Smollett still carries this show with his hit music made for the mainstream (seriously you could put a talent like this next to Ne-Yo...oh wait they already did) and his bold and beautiful stand for sexual rights and equality. Which in a discriminating world still so backwards in the race and in a show that too often plays up to negative stereotypes it remains the bravest and best thing 'Empire' has dealt with. That is next to anxiety aggravated, insecure inducing, heaven highs and languishing lows caused by the brutality of Bipolar disorders. Captured with rawness but respect from the terrific Trai Byers who remains the best actor on this show and the best portrayer of these enigmatic emotions outside the court of 'The People vs. O.J. Simpson's' Sterling K. Brown. Add a dynamo stick of dynamite in the dynamic Bryshere Y. Gray nearly losing his shirt as many times as his raps make you lose your s### than you have something for the record that's really going to spin. Especially when you add the likes of Trai Byers on screen wife Kaitlin Doubleday and his off screen one (congratulations) Grace Gealey to the cycle...or should we say cyclone. It almost looks like they're literally fighting over him. But there's a lot more at stake here. That's what you get when your guest stars include Chris Rock, Ludacris, Ne-Yo and even Alicia Keys and a pimped out Xzibit. Not to mention the likes of William Fitchner, Marisa Tomei and Naomi Campbell. All wrapped up in a top Timbaland track. 'Precious' creator Lee Daniels knows people and drama and that's what makes his 'Empire' so big as his ceasar wears the crown. The head may be heavy but you can't help but bow down. TIM DAVID HARVEY.