Thursday, August 20, 2015

Chemo Becomes Her: Chasing Life (and Death)

WHHHAAAAAAAAATTTT?
   
I haven’t screamed at the TV since The Good Wife dispensed with Will Gardner (Josh Charles), an event from which the show has yet to recover. I doubt it ever will, and I suspect the next one might be the last series.
   
But this week, I found myself screaming out loud again in ABC’s Chasing Life, when April (Italia Ricci) discovered her new husband, Leo (Scott Michael Foster), dead in bed when she delivered him an Italian dessert. It remains to be seen whether Leo died as a result of his previous cancer or April’s cooking on the Italian night she had lovingly prepared to make up for their not having had a honeymoon. Did Leo choke on a gnocchi dumpling? Did some spaghetti strangle his colon? At any rate, for the moment it’s put me off eating pasta before indulging in sex.
   
I wasn’t consumed by the same uncontrollable sobbing I had been when Will was shot in the courtroom, but it was still a stunner of a surprise (terrific writing from Joni Lefkowitz). Leo, after all, was the character who had come through and was being a rock for April, so to go in his sleep seemed so unjust (although I suspect that Scott’s contract for the part he landed in ABC’s new series Blood and Oil helped him through).
   
I love this series, which has evolved from the basic premise – a woman desperately trying to hang on to life – into a drama in which every single character is chasing life in his or her own way. It is amazingly well cast, with great performances and great writing. The screen loves Ricci, in particular, and she really is breathtakingly beautiful, especially with the short hair. I hope no one will take offence if I say, in relation to April, that chemo becomes her.
   
As a TV critic of 30 years, I see most things coming, but Leo’s death was another twist that completely passed me by because I was too busy thinking about other things: first, if The Man in the Mask (can’t remember his name, sorry) would have to take it off, if and were he ever to get the opportunity to perform oral sex (I don’t know, do I? I’m not very up on sexual germ warfare in the cancer world); and second, why Uncle George (Steve Weber) was destroying the book written by Thomas (Tom Irwin), April, Natalie and Brenna’s father.
   
Well, I’ll tell you why: because when Leo was choking on his gnocchi balls, I worked it out. The “baddie” in the novel is not Thomas at all, but George, who has recognised his own evildoing but needs it to be buried. I also suspect that George is behind Thomas’s death (if, indeed, Thomas IS dead). We might well be headed for a Cain and Abel scenario here.
   
It was clear it was going to go awry when April handed George the manuscript (which was very thin, by the way) and said: “It’s my only copy.” Oh, no! Not the only copy! Not the only copy that will be lost/burnt/put through a shredder never to be seen again!
   
This is a part of the story I’m just not buying. Number one: if Thomas was such a great secret agent (or whatever he turns out to be), he would surely have kept something on file or on a memory stick. Number two: if April is such a great journalist, she would never have handed over such an important piece of information without making a copy of it (small wonder she had the push from her job). We can only hope that Natalie has had the foresight to do that.
   
George is too good to be true, anyway, despite what his current girlfriend, Miss Pearl of the Orient, may think – or even Sara (Mary Page Keller) for that matter, a woman who is always gagging for it, so much so that she has now had to take up running to disperse all that sexual tension.
   
Talking of gagging for it . . . Will Brenna ever get through a sexual encounter without being interrupted, dumped, or being the dumper? She should take a leaf out of April’s book, who, for a cancer victim, gets more sex than anyone else within a 100 mile radius. True, her partners might not wake to see daylight, but you can’t have everything. Sometimes, it’s a thin line between getting laid and getting laid six feet under.

So, will April end up with Dominic (Richard Brancatisano) after all – the man we all really thought was “the one”? Who knows. But whatever you do, Dominic, heed this advice: no carbs before bedtime. 

And if April starts singing Tempo Di Dire Addio (Time to Say Goodbye) as she serves up the gnocchi, get out of there, pronto (or rapidamente, as the Italians say). 

Hanging around for the tiramisu is a big mistake. 

Just ask Leo’s embalmer. 


   

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