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For a talent whose career was cut short by an accident at the age of 27, Anton Yelchin leaves behind an unusually long list of credits. Of course, it helps that he started young. Yelchin was only 10 when he made his TV debut on “ER.” It was a role that’s chilling to revisit in light of today’s tragedy, considering that Yelchin played a boy who survived a deadly crash. With scrapes on his face and his arm in a splint, Yelchin listens as Goran Visnjic delivers the news that his parents died in the operating room, and in a moment far more adult than his age, he asks to see their bodies.
In that first screen performance, we see the paradox the persisted for the rest of Yelchin’s career — that mix of uncanny maturity and childlike vulnerability, characterized by soulful, saucer-like eyes; the sort of face whose cheeks »
- Peter Debruge
TNT continues to move towards gritty programming as evidenced by their new Animal Kingdom drama series. Previous attempts haven't worked out very well in the ratings so it remains to be seen if this one will be different. Cancelled or renewed for season two? Stay tuned.
Animal Kingdom revolves around a 17-year-old named "J" (Finn Cole) who moves in with his deceased mother’s family -- a Southern California clan of criminals. Heading up the family is J's unpredictable and manipulative grandmother, Janine "Smurf" Cody (Ellen Barkin). The rest of the cast includes Scott Speedman, Shawn Hatosy, Ben Robson, Jake Weary, Daniella Alonso, and Molly Gordon.
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In the premiere of TNT’s Animal Kingdom, impressionable young J Cody was always being given things by his thieving uncles. Money. Jewelry. The false impression that breakfast is clothing-optional and petty disagreements are best settled with firearms. So the question became, would the teenager be seduced by his family’s flashy criminal lifestyle? For that matter, would we be seduced by the series? I wasn’t. How about you? Read on, and after we go over the major developments in the series’ opener, you can grade it and weigh in with your review in the comments sections.
RelatedSummer TV »
It makes a certain kind of sense that the crime drama “Animal Kingdom,” based on a 2010 Australian film of the same name, ends up being as deceptive as the family at its heart. At first, the TNT show looks as though it may be a promising showcase for Ellen Barkin, who stars as the matriarch of a beach-side clan that lives well thanks to its penchant for cleverly executed heists.,
But in the course of the drama’s first three episodes, it becomes more and more apparent that, despite its characters’ shady pasts and dicey decisions, the show is, on the whole, fairly predictable and even conventional. Its characters never really do anything all that surprising: It’s no shock that a family united by heists would end up breaking all sorts of other laws, and any time anyone on screen utters the sentence, “There are no secrets in this family,” that’s the cue for a scene or two of duplicitous behavior.
Though the cast is packed with solid actors clearly eager to play morally shady thieves, the characters are not written with the kind of depth and texture that would make the Cody family’s crime sprees, troubled relationships, and simmering arguments worth following. Time and again, characters take “shocking” actions that are meant to signal that the show is willing to go to dark places, but there’s so little context and history behind those moments that it’s difficult to care about what occurs or about the ramifications of those acts.
It’s a tribute to Barkin that she almost makes Janine “Smurf” Cody work as a character. Smurf is the manipulative matriarch who controls the purse strings of the Cody gang, and, as “Animal Kingdom” begins, her four sons are feeling restive about the fact that they’re being kept on short leashes, emotionally and financially. She’s constantly preparing meals and snacks for her boys, but she keeps them deprived in other ways, and there’s a slightly incestuous vibe to how she interacts with the young men in her orbit, whether or not they’re tied to her by blood. There’s a calculated strategy behind the way she disciplines her boys by either withholding her attention or lavishing them with her creepy love, and Barkin is charismatic enough to inject those scenes with layers of shading and ambiguity.
The actress gives the character a queenly walk and a tough, steely vibe, but, despite her formidable abilities, Smurf never quite becomes the love-to-hate-her character she could be, in part because some of the worst things she does make it easy to write her off as a garden-variety sociopath. The viewer doesn’t need to like Smurf for the show to work, but the character’s more odious actions are not counterbalanced by the kind of shading that would make her power plays worth watching over the long term.
Scott Speedman acquits himself well as Barry “Baz” Blackwell, an adopted son who tries to keep the family peace, which is no easy task, but Baz is saddled with two underdeveloped romantic relationships, both of which lack depth and nuance. Shawn Hatosy is impressive as Andrew “Pope” Cody, whose unsettling intensity hints at much deeper psychological problems, but Pope’s character doesn’t really go anywhere: In almost every scene he’s in, he’s odd, angry, or resentful, and that’s about it.
In any case, the focus in the early episodes is on Joshua “J” Cody (Finn Cole), Smurf’s grandson, who has been estranged from the family but is reunited with the clan early in the pilot. Cole is a likable enough actor (and unlike some other non-American members of the cast, his Southern California accent sounds legit), but ultimately the character proves to be a somewhat bland and underwhelming entry point into the Codys’ world.
The Codys may be bold risk-takers, but the territory this show explores — aggression, rule-breaking, and criminal conspiracies within a dysfunctional family— has been thoroughly mined by decades of films and TV shows. Like the recent cable dramas “Vinyl” and “Feed the Beast,” this TNT series just doesn’t have many unique or fresh things to say about crime, unconventional clans, and the limits of traditionally defined masculinity.
“Animal Kingdom” wants to jolt the viewer with bursts of intense energy, but in the end, it feels like a relic from cable TV’s semi-recent past. It’s certainly more challenging than TNT’s last few batches of procedurals, but it’s unlikely to be a game-changer.
- Maureen Ryan
Late in the second episode of TNT’s new drama “Animal Kingdom,” Ellen Barkin, who plays the family matriarch nicknamed “Smurf,” stares at out the window at her naked son, standing next to a swimming pool with his exposed butt shimmering in the moonlight.
Inappropriate? Absolutely. Executive producer Jonathan Lisco likes to use the term “emotional incest” to describe the mother/son dynamic at the heart of “Animal Kingdom,” which premieres Tuesday night on TNT.
Based on the 2010 Australian film that was written and directed by David Michôd, Lisco and fellow executive producer John Wells have focused on Barkin’s provocative character and the unhealthy hold she wields over her four dangerous sons.
Read More: Watch: It’s All About Family In New Trailer For TNT’s ‘Animal Kingdom’ TV Series
“You can imagine that she showered with one of these kids until he was 9 or 10 or 11,” Lisco told IndieWire. “She’s raised these guys with love, but also with some disturbingly leaky boundaries. She’s now infantilized these boys, even into adulthood, to the point where her house is still the honey pot. They are repelled by her affection, at the same time that they perversely crave it.”
Lisco said the Cody clan’s dysfunctional dynamic is what drew him to the series. “They would love to tell Smurf to go jump in a lake, but at the same time, they’ve been raised in such a way where her approval and her affection is so important to their identity that they’re having a hard to extricating themselves from the gravity of the hold that she has over them.”
Scott Speedman, Shawn Hatosy, Ben Robson and Jake Weary play Barkin’s boys, hard-bodied criminals who also harbor an “addicting” and “conflicted” brotherhood. “We’re going to try and force the audience’s expectations about who’s good, who’s stable, and who’s actually the most moral in the show,” Lisco said. “We’re not apologizing at all for our characters. I’m not saying to lean forward and ever necessarily feel sorry for them, but if you do find yourself relating to them, I think that will be a great success, because you’ll catch yourself and you’ll have to remind yourself that this is indeed a family of thieves.”
Read More: ‘Animal Kingdom’ Review Roundup
The audience’s entry point is through teenager “J” (Finn Cole), who moves in with the Cody family after his mother – Smurf’s estranged daughter – dies of an overdose. But even “J” may not be who he seems. “He’s actually not purely innocent,” Lisco said. “Don’t forget, he is the son of an ex-communicated member of this family, so this is in his blood. We want to see how he evolves morally and whether or not he’s going to take things into his own hands.”
Like many film adaptations, Lisco said he wanted to take the original DNA of “Animal Kingdom” and expand it: “Anyone who’s seen David Michôd’s memorable film knows that it’s not just about a family of bank robbers who pull jobs and run from the cops… [We’re not] trying to sensationalize or try to do any ‘TV-fied’ version of the movie.”
Also, Lisco added that the TV show “can’t really follow the plot of the feature film because, spoiler alert: our cast will be pretty decimated way too soon if you follow the plot line of the movie. What we’re going to do is, we hope, go brick by brick and look at character in a much more.”
Lisco and his writing team have already mapped out “Animal Kingdom’s” character paths for Season 1 and the first half of Season 2. “And even some bigger notions for where we land in season 3,” he added.
Now set in Oceanside, Calif., north of San Diego, “Animal Kingdom’s” plot will include elements of the law enforcement and the threat of the Cody family’s capture. But the show’s initial 10-episode first season is really about the family – and, specifically, Smurf’s origins story.
“We have a whole backstory for her in which she was living in a car with her mother when she was young, and she saw her mom essentially not need men,” Lisco said. “The mother raised Smurf with the sense that men were gullible idiots, and so when she started to mature, she decided to use her sexuality in ways that would control her own life. And what better way to do that than to supplant the men in her life in some ways with people that she could forge out of her own loins and kick the fathers to the curb?”
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Related stories'Animal Kingdom' Review Roundup: Critics Are Mixed on the TV Adaptation of David Michôd's Acclaimed Crime DramaReview: 'Animal Kingdom' Season 1 Honors the Film, But Lacks the Dynamic That Made It GreatTribeca Review: TNT's 'Animal Kingdom' Starring Ellen Barkin, Scott Speedman And Shawn Hatosy »
- Michael Schneider
The family that slays together stays together" — it's a phrase might as well be inscribed in Latin on the Cody clan's crest. Three generations of burglars and thieves come together under one roof on TNT's rough-hewn new drama Animal Kingdom (an Americanized adaptation of the 2010 Australian crime thriller) and precious little is off-limits: the kids blow lines of coke in front of their elders, the oldest son delivers an extended angry tirade to his relatives while hanging dong, and if someone gets bumped off during a messy jewel heist, you »
TNT’s re-imagining of the 2010 Australian film “Animal Kingdom” premiered Wednesday at the Rose Room in Venice Beach, bringing out cast members Ellen Barkin, Ben Robson, Scott Speedman, Jake Weary, Finn Cole, Shawn Hatosy, Daniella Alonso, Molly Gordon and executive producer John Wells.
While “Animal Kingdom” takes inspiration from the movie, the creators wanted to craft a different world for the series. One key change was moving the setting from Melbourne to the beach town of Oceanside.
“We thought it was interesting — the whole idea of being in these kind of working class communities that are close to wealthy communities and there’s a certain amount of class resentment in a sense of Robin Hood like these people deserve to be robbed from because they moved into where we were and made it hard for us to live here,” said Wells.
“Oceanside is an excellent representation of that where it »
- Lamarco McClendon
If first impressions last, Animal Kingdom is in trouble.
Based on a 2010 Australian movie, the now-SoCal-set TNT drama is well-acted, and the pilot (June 14, 9/8c), sharply directed by co-executive producer John Wells (The West Wing). But the moment it introduces the Codys — a family of outlaws headed by Ellen Barkin as a toughie nicknamed (no kidding) Smurf — they work overtime to make it clear that they’re not just badass, they’re bad, period. Middle son Craig (Ben Robson) and kid brother Deran (Jake Weary, A Deadly Adoption) are a–holes on the highway. They’re a–holes in the ocean. »
Drama is about to get even more complex and gritty at TNT. The cable channel has released a new extended trailer which promotes the cable channel's viscerally intense new series, Animal Kingdom. In addition, TNT has already released the first episode online.
Animal Kingdom stars Ellen Barkin as Smurf, the fierce and manipulative matriarch of the outlaw Cody family of Southern California. The clan lives outside the fringes of society. There's plenty of underlying tension -- not just from the outside world, but also from within the family. Other members of the family are played by Scott Speedman, Shawn Hatosy, Ben Robson, Jake Weary and Finn Cole. Daniella Alonso and Molly Gordon play family members' girlfriends.
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TNT has debuted an extended preview for its upcoming "Animal Kingdom" TV series. An American reinvention of the Australian film of the same name, the two-hour series premiere takes place on June 14th and follows a wild criminal family led by a fierce and emotionally manipulative matriarch (Ellen Barkin).
- Garth Franklin
Ahead of its hotly-anticipated premiere next month, TNT has released an extended trailer for its upcoming series Animal Kingdom, a gritty and visceral new crime drama in the vein of hit TV shows such as Sons of Anarchy and Fargo.
Inspired by David Michôd’s cult 2010 Australian film of the same name, Animal Kingdom stars Emmy and Tony Winner Ellen Barkin (Sea of Love) in the role of Janine ‘Smurf’ Cody (played by Oscar-nominee Jacki Weaver in the original movie). Smurf is the fierce and emotionally manipulative matriarch of the Cody family, an outlaw clan living an adrenaline-fueled, indulgent lifestyle in Southern California.
Executive produced by John Wells (ER, The West Wing) and Jonathan Lisco (Southland, Halt and Catch Fire), Animal Kingdom sees Barkin joined by a stellar supporting cast that includes Scott Speedman, Shawn Hatosy, Ben Robson, Jake Weary, Finn Cole, Daniella Alonso and Molly Gordon.
Check out an eleven-minute preview here… »
- Gary Collinson
TNT is keeping Animal Kingdom in its cage a little longer than anticipated.
Originally scheduled for June 7, the cabler’s upcoming Ellen Barkin vehicle will now launch with a two-hour premiere on Tuesday, June 14, at 9/8c.
RelatedTNT Sets Dates for Rizzoli & Isles‘ Final Season, Major Crimes‘ Return
Animal Kingdom stars Barkin as the matriarch of a Southern California family that is prone to indulgence and excess, funded by criminal activities. When 17-year-old Joshua “J” Cody’s mother dies of a heroin overdose, he moves to the beach to live with the law-breaking clan. Scott Speedman (Felicity) and Shawn Hatosy (Southland) also star. »
Update: TNT is expanding the premiere episode of its new drama series Animal Kingdom to two hours and moving the launch to June 14 at 9 Pm. It was previously set for June 7. The series stars Ellen Barkin, Scott Speedman, Shawn Hatosy, Ben Robson, Jake Weary, Finn Cole, Daniella Alonso and Molly Gordon. Previous, March 24, 11 Am: Premiere dates have been set for TNT’s new drama series Animal Kingdom and Starz’s The Dresser, the premium cabler’s first movie for television. A… »
With a little over a month to go before its premiere, TNT has released a trailer for the upcoming crime drama series Animal Kingdom. The show is inspired by David Michod’s 2010 film of the same name and stars Ellen Barkin, Scott Speedman, Shawn Hatosy, Ben Robson, Jake Weary and Finn Cole; take a look below after the official synopsis…
Animal Kingdom is an adrenaline-charged drama starring Emmy and Tony winner Ellen Barkin (Sea of Love, This Boy’s Life, Oceans 13) as the matriarch of a Southern California family whose excessive lifestyle is fueled by their criminal activities.
Animal Kingdom premieres on June 7th on TNT.
- Amie Cranswick
A new trailer is out for TNT's American remake of David Michod's Australian crime drama feature "Animal Kingdom". The masculine sex appeal factor of the cast appears to have been made more explicit for the small screen version which features Ellen Barkin as the ruthless matriarch of a family of criminals. Scott Speedman, Shawn Hatosy, Ben Robson, Jake Weary and Finn Cole also star in the series which premieres June 7th.
- Garth Franklin
The cast and producers of TNT’s “Animal Kingdom” are hoping to pick up where the 2010 David Michod film left off with their adaptation of the acclaimed Australian movie about a family wrapped up in a crime syndicate.
The series rendition of “Animal Kingdom” bowed at the Tribeca Film Festival on Sunday, followed by a Q&A with some of the show’s key players.
Barkin plays fierce matriarch Janine “Smurf” Cody, who shares hyper sexual tension with her four grown sons. The role earned a supporting actress Oscar nomination for the film’s co-star Jacki Weaver. When Smurf’s grandson (played by Finn Cole) loses his mother to heroin overdose, he’s introduced to his family’s criminal activities and testosterone-fueled lifestyle. »
- Seth Kelley
[caption id="attachment_42304" align="aligncenter" width="590"] The cast of TNT's Animal Kingdom (l to r): Jake Weary, Finn Cole, Scott Speedman, Ellen Barkin, Ben Robson and Shawn Hatosy. Image courtesy of Turner press room.[/caption]
TNT's Animal Kingdom TV series premieres Tuesday, June 7, 2016. Watch a new trailer, below. A new drama, Animal Kingdom stars Ellen Barkin, Scott Speedman, Shawn Hatosy, Ben Robson, Jake Weary, Finn Cole, Daniella Alonso, and Molly Gordon. The exact time slot has yet to be announced.
Read More… »
In today’s round-up, Esquire Network is offering viewers a chance to relive the notorious O.J. Simpson murder trail with a 12-hour special. Plus, your first look at Jennifer Lopez with James Corden for Carpool Karaoke is here . . .
Today, CBS released the first image (above) of the “American Idol” and “Shades of Blue” star with Corden, teasing her March 29 debut on “The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special,” an hourlong celebrating Corden’s first year in late-night, sprinkled with the host’s favorite moments and a new Carpool Karaoke moment with Lopez.
- Alyssa Sage
The trailer has arrived for the second season of PlayStation Network's "Powers," the series adaptation of the Brian Michael Bendis comic which sees Michael Madsen, Tricia Helfer, and Wil Wheaton joining the cast for the second season which will be available on the network from May 31st.
Disney Xd and Lucasfilm have released several new images and a clip from the upcoming finale for "Star Wars Rebels" which confirms that Sith lord Darth Maul will make his debut in the series.
In th episode Kanan, Ezra and Ahsoka seek out an Inquisitor to gain information about Vader, but soon encounter an unexpected ally in their fight against the Sith. The two-part finale airs March 30th.
- Garth Franklin
“He’s blood, baby. He’s in… ’til he proves he isn’t.”
Those aren’t exactly the words you’d expect a woman to say about her grandson, but in the world of TNT’s Animal Kingdom, that might be as warm and fuzzy as it gets.
RelatedKeep or Cut? Vote on the Fate of Castle, Sleepy Hollow, Other ‘Bubble’ Shows
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