There's something about TNT's newest offering, Good Behavior, that's just strange. It could be its relatively unknown cast, (except for #DowntonAbbey's Michele Dockery), it's mishmash of plots, or it's seen-it-not-seen-it before feel. If I jot down what works and what doesn't about the show then I'd have a tie between its positives and negatives, yet there's this undeniable charm that the show brings that's quite difficult to ignore. Full disclosure, I haven't seen Downton Abbey, Still, one quick look at Michele Dockery's performance as Lady Mary is enough to be enthralled at Dockery's gripping performance.
It's not an easy plot to explain, that is for sure. In fact, it incorporates so many elements, TNT felt it needed a two-part premiere to properly introduce the show to its audience.
Michele Dockery plays the character of Letty Raines-but the seemingly British sounding name is all she has in common with her previous role. Dockery manages to get our attention from the very first moment . Her frustration at washing toilets and getting fired after attacking a guy about to rape her, effectively begins the show. From there on things get more interesting as we see what Letty does best and why exactly she is an ex-con. Predictably her plans go a little awry when a person (whose room she's robbing in a hotel) enters the room and carries out a business meeting with a person. The meeting turns out to be between a man who wants his wife murdered (for reasons unknown) and between the hit man, all while Letty hides in the closet. And while Letty manages to escape unscathed, she doesn't know what to do with this new founded knowledge of someone's impending doom. Should she try to find out more about the impending murder? Or let the whole thing go? I'm not going to bother explaining more lest I ruin the show for you, but let me warn you, things only get interesting from here on.
What Works and What Doesn't
Like I mentioned before, on paper the show shouldn't work, and to an extent it almost doesn't. It's got aspects of crime-noir, a family drama, a rom-com, and a thriller, and somehow they all come together. One moment Letty is wearing wigs and robbing hotels, the next she's crying over the son she's not allowed to see, one scene she's bantering with Javier and before you know it, she's gotten herself involved in multiple murders. The exact intentions of creators Blake Crouch (from #WaywardPines fame) and Chad Hodge are trying to do aren't so clear just yet, but that's one of the interesting things about the show. So far there doesn't seem to be a bigger threat, something that could serve as the overall plot for the rest of the season but this also doesn't feel like a procedural. This, however, doesn't have to be a negative thing. Newcomer #Frequency lost all momentum when it failed to effectively juggle it's over arching story line with inconsequential plots. Good Behavior thus seems more liable to stay relevant to a single story line, especially since the first season consists of 10 episodes. But as engaging as it is, these 10 episodes could be difficult to fill for a show that seems more fit for a movie than a series. In fact, even the Blake Crouch book series it's based on, are novellas, cementing my belief that this story could have paid off in spades at the box office rather than on TV.
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'Good Behavior' benefits from a very strong cast. From Letty's mother (Lusia Strus) who seems to treat her daughter with nothing but cruelty, yet appears to be surprisingly involved in her grandson's life, putting him in baseball clubs and playing board games with him, to her parole officer Christian Woodchild (Terry Kinney) who seems torn between his affection for Letty and his duty as her officer; no character is shown to be one-dimensional.
Juan Diego Botto also steals the show with his carefully nuanced take on murderer Javier. He plays the part to perfection, coming across as charming, ruthless and deadly at the same time. It also doesn't hurt that he sounds very much like Liam Neeson. His repartee with Letty is one of the great positives of the show, and Dockery and Botto do a fine job of keeping their chemistry alive. Anyone who remembers the ABC Shonda Rhimes produced #TheCatch will recall how the show suffered due to poor casting. Luckily, Good Behavior seems to be the perfect upgrade for those few individuals who liked The Catch, or just prefer messed up relationships in general.
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Michele Dockery's Big Return To The Small Screen
It seems as though a lot of the scenes are 'Emmy submission' scenes, and Dockery nails each and every one. She is vulnerable one second, feisty and badass the next, and so utterly lost in another that it's hard to keep track of all her emotions. It's almost as if the writers decided to do everything to the character, couldn't make up their minds; from making her an ex-con and former drug addiction, as well as making her a grieving mother.. There's a plethora of other charges against her but if there's one thing the show does well, it's make her likeable despite all of her flaws. There are several moving scenes in the first two episodes alone. Letty is, for instance, seen crying hysterically when talking to her 'evil mother'. There's another scene where she is seemingly attempting to take her life and leaves her parole officer a touching message about not feeling guilty.
Michele Dockery is so good that it's hard to argue against another Emmy nomination, her fourth, if not a win. Viola Davis got an Emmy nomination last year despite a tame second season of #HowToGetAwayWithMurder, and something tells me that Good Behavior is going to be a better season than that, with more than a few good scenes. In relation with HTGAWM, this show would have worked really well if it had been part of the Shonda Rhimes lineup on ABC, because it has that feel to it. It makes you wonder why the show ended up on TNT when it could have worked as the perfect replacement for The Catch.
The fact that the writers have put Letty Raines under a microscope from day one promises great things are coming for the character. For example her self-help app is so integral to the show that the whole title sequence has lines from it. Sadly her life seems really to be heading for worse than better. There's also this scene in Episode 2 (Only the Best For Mrs.Diaz), where she tells Javier that she's "never going to kill anyone ever, ever, ever" which works great in terms of showing us her mindset and will also serve as a great plot point when she eventually does kill someone, as the ever escalating events of the show seem to indicate.
Will Good Behavior be our new guilty pleasure?
TNT's Good Behavior may have some flaws but it's gripping story and talented cast makes for some great TV. It's brand of witty, dark humor, intense drama, and Bonnie and Clyde style duo is the perfect addition to a season where most of the new female led shows have suffered (the already cancelled #Conviction and CW's under-performing Frequency). And since it's officially that time of the year when every TV show is on a mid-season break, Good Behavior seems like the perfect show to replace our thirst for good TV with, and may just turn out to be our new guilty pleasure.
Check out the trailer for TNT's Good Behavior below:
What did YOU think of the show? Shoot me a Comment below.