By : NERDgirlMAX ™
Who (you know): Sarah Jones (Ugly Betty, BigLove, The Path)
What: American Period drama set in 1930s Iowa
When: Premiered 11/17/17 (cancelled after 1 season)
Where: Netflix, USA Network, Prime Video, YouTubeTV (where I saw it)
Why (you should watch): Religion, revolt,revolution, corruption, secrets and lies in a small town.
Less than 20 seconds into the first episode the frame is filled with what is assumed to be a preacher tacking up signage that states “A Reckoning Between God & America.” This quite simply sums up the entire premise of the show, and while a little spot on, is a great intro to all that DAMNATION will be.
About as soon as the second it takes you to read the sign passes by, gunshots can be heard. A creative disruption to the pondering you were about to set your mind to… but now you just HAVE to know where those gunshots are coming from and why someone is shooting in the middle of the day.
The camera shifts so that both the preacher and you (the viewer) can begin the trudge down an old dirt path to gain knowledge of good or knowledge of evil.
In the 1930s a local “preacher” rallies the farmers and their families in a small town in Iowa to rally against industrialist, bankers, government and everyone in their “pockets” who corrupt the wholesome ideas of hard work and spiritual stability. True to partial historic fact, in the early 1930s there were early strikes in Iowa (farmer’s strike) and Kentucky (miner’s strike). This series doesn’t pretend to be a historical account of what happened at this time. Instead it should be enjoyed for the loose but realistic representation that it is.
(click below for full post)
GRADING SCALE (10 Star Scale)
Assessment of overall start, climax, and finish
This review is based solely on the 3 episodes that I saw so I won’t approach this as a whole visual unit of every episode from DAMNATION ‘ s first and only season.
However, know that the plots in each episode twist and turn just enough to give assurance to your suspicions, while overriding the accuracy in your assumptions. So it’s a good enough collective to create this review.
I am mad that I only have 3 episodes at my disposal ( I think Netflix has more, but I don’t have that anymore – feel free to DM me your LOGIN :-D – I’m L-O-L ing but I’m also serious). But I will await the day that YouTubeTV sends me that “unwatched episodes” alert.
Assessment of the visual cohesiveness and effectiveness throughout
The effects are supremely muted. So how did this score get an 8? Because of Cinematography : excellent panning, and visual leading. Great contrast of daintiness and power; of compliance and rebellion. Words often reserved for individual characters, but the cinematography has found a way to personify itself into a moving, breathing thing, that drags you along on its shifting journey.
Assessment of music or subsequent sounds that catapult viewer into the story plot
Weakest category for this great show. Gets a 5 because the music matches, but it’s nothing to write home about, and is barely memorable. The “5” is for it matching the time period. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Assessment of how it makes the viewer feel
Due to the current climate of the world we’re living in— where industry is king and the banks would much rather steal from the ill-informed than be a source of building communities— viewers will identify with the movement that Preacher Seth is spreading within the “body” of the church.
Most of us aren’t rich, silver spoon men, women, or children, and so it is easy to connect with the struggles of people just trying to make a living.
The conspiring of entire conglomerates consisting of puppet masters, specialty groups, secret agencies, personal gainers, and personal avengers with blood seeking greenback motivations, will be a screaming parallel to the daily news you scroll through every day in e-mails and on social media.
Assessment of quality of main actors (and in some cases secondary actors)
Every character is believable for this era. While “Preacher Seth” is a lot more radical than is imagined for the 1930s or even for this day and time with his cursing and weaponry within the walls of the church. He is still recognizable as what kind of preacher could start such a rally among the everyday people, in the midst of budding corruption among industrialists, banking, and the government in 1931 America.
“Bessie Louvin” may not seem realistic for the era, but considering her blood and social relation to key players within the community and her profession, it is the only place where she could be as she is during a time such as 1931 Iowa USA.
Everyone else’s look, accent, mannerism, and overall acting lends strong tribute to the time period and sends the viewer on a journey back into history of fact and a visual creation of possibilities.
MAIN CAST (from Wikipedia)
- Killian Scott as Seth "Preacher Seth" Davenport, an enigmatic preacher behind the strikes in Holden County, who has a mysterious past and isn't quite who he appears to be
- Logan Marshall-Green as Creeley Turner, Seth's older brothe and a Pinkerton Detective Sarah Jones as Amelia Davenport, Seth's wife who writes inflammatory sermons under the alias "Dr. Samuel T. Hopkins"
- Chasten Harmon as Bessie Louvin, the only prostitute at the local brothel who is capable of reading and is "engaged" by Creeley to be his secretary
- Christopher Heyerdahl as Don Berryman, the local sheriff of Holden who also owns the town's speakeasy and casino
- Melinda Page Hamilton as Connie Nunn, an agent of the William J. Burns International Detective Agency with a grudge against Seth, whom she believes killed her husband
- Joe Adler as DL Sullivan, a reporter for the town's local newspaper
Black Thought : 08/10
Assessment of how the presence of blacks (and sometimes people of color in general) are portrayed
One male and one female Black person.
I can respect that history can’t be changed with a modern re-telling of a loose history.
And I liked that at least they weren’t married. From the few episodes I’ve seen I don’t even know if the 2 characters know each other.
The woman is a prostitute – I know I know, BUT she is a prostitute who speaks her mind, NEGOTIATES her price (something the modern day one of color could stand to learn in any circumstance) AND she is the only one who knows how to read and who has clear and free driving privileges at the whorehouse. So as far as females of color during this era in a small town in Iowa go, she is as much of a boss chick as she can be without getting killed.
The man is a farmer. Outspoken when the scene calls for it, but definitely not as prominent an individual as the woman. He’s also very strong. Barely flinches when he gets shot and still has some things to say while he sits on the steps and bleeds out. If you are familiar with Black History everywhere but in the U.S. you will know that this small thing is a big thing, in that Blacks were considered the strongest of the races and therefore were utilized as such. Not because they were weak-minded and just wanted to please a master, but simply because they were the strongest. Whether the writers are familiar with this account I’m not sure. But I like that they show this masculine strength in this secondary character because it also shows that strength doesn’t always have to be brute it can be understated, calm, but still very present.
There are various black faces in the crowds (body extras) from time to time either mumbling or being killed in crossfire as well.
OVERALL RATING: 7.67/10
1. “… the cops and judges didn’t crucify Jesus for being respectable. They crucified him because [Jesus] was an outlaw. A revolutionary. They crucified Jesus because they were afraid he was gonna take power away from them and give it to the poor.”
2. “How do I look?” | “Almost like a preacher.”
3. “My friends, we’re living in biblical times again. There is a holy war in this country; the rich versus the poor. It’s the same war Jesus himself was in.
4. “The point is not to just understand the word; it’s to change it.” | “Is that in the bible? | “It’s on every page.”
5. “Why are you shutting me out?” | “I didn’t know that I was.”
6. “A roaring , furious, deafening silence.”
7. “A woman’s place is in the revolution.”
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