Technically, TV Land started producing its own original content back in 2004, with celeb-driven unscripted series like Chasing Farrah and I Pity the Fool. However, it was in 2010 that the network kicked off with the star-studded Hot in Cleveland, bringing Betty White back to pop culture’s forefront. That kicked off a boom of other sitcoms led by big TV stars from the past four decades, such as (George) Lopez, Kirstie (Alley) and Happily Divorced (with Fran Drescher).
Think back to Natalie Portman in Black Swan, Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby, J.K. Simmons in Whiplash or, you know, Daniel Day Lewis in virtually every film he’s ever made. This occurs during Green Book, with both Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali disappearing so seamlessly into their roles that you feel like you are watching the actual men on which this story is based. So while the story may be predictable, the performances never are, and they in turn elevate the material.
It’s the 1960s in a racially divided United States of America. Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) earns paychecks bouncing rowdy patrons from Manhattan’s famed Copacabana nightclub. But the establishment is about to shut down for renovations, meaning “Lip” needs to find a new line of work to provide for his caring wife, Dolores (Linda Cardellini), and cute kids.
Opportunity presents itself in the form of Donald Shirley (Mahershala Ali), celebrated concert pianist and acclaimed composer whose about to embark on a tour of the Deep South. Remember, though, that this is the 1960s, and the Civil Rights movement hasn’t implemented much change in our society. Shirley needs a driver and a bodyguard, and he believes that Vallelonga is the right man for the job.
The Green Book of the title refers to an actual historical object, a guide that African Americans were asked to use when traveling to help them find establishments that allowed them to stay there. The South was still deeply segregated at the time of Don Shirley’s tour, so both men knew they were likely going to encounter resistance. How they handle it becomes the driving force behind Green Book, the movie.
These events actually happened. The Green Book screenplay is co-written by Nick Vallelonga, son of “Tony Lip,” and while it’s likely been Hollywoodized to work as an intended crowd pleaser, these men really did stare down systematic racism to make a point — that Donald Shirley deserved a place of honor in the very same establishments that he was being invited to play.
The lessons of Green Book are predictable, though that doesn’t make them less worthy of retelling. Using the time-tested odd-couple format, the refined and distinguished Shirley transfers culture and dignity to the slovenly Vallelonga, while the latter teaches the pianist to appreciate pop musicians like Little Richard. The duo might not change too many minds in the backwoods South, but they rub off on each other in sweet and sentimental ways.
Side note: Director Peter Farrelly — yes, one half of the comedy directors The Farrelly Brothers — balances drama and comedy here, but too often succumbs to the “Ignorant Southerners” cliché, when it wasn’t necessary. The portrayal of the South in segregated times is straight out of the Hollywood Playbook, making Green Book as subtle and nuanced as you might expect a movie by the director of Stuck on You and There’s Something About Mary can be. While I could imagine that Don Shirley and Frank Vallelonga encountered resistance from Southern restaurants and clothing establishments who weren’t ready to serve an African-American client, the fact that they meet stubborn bigots are every turn gets to be a little heavy-handed and on the nose in the otherwise dexterous Green Book.
That being said, the performances of the two men surpass any tonal missteps in Green Book, and are worthy of the price of admission to Peter Farrelly’s movie. It’s remarkable how good the actors are in their lead roles, considering they each nail polar-opposite portrayals. Mahershala Ali is quiet and calm in his space, calculating every movement and debating every turn of phrase so that Donald Shirley is a credible human character, not a stereotyped fussy snob. Ali also gets the film’s most beautiful moment, when Shirley stands on the side of the road and sees Southern workers tending to a field. In the moment, he sees how close he might be to being in their spot. But they also see the possibility they have of eventually being in his spot, and all of this is conveyed with no dialogue.
On the flip side, it’s nearly grotesque the length that Viggo Mortensen slips to physically play Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga. It’s not just the weight gain (though that’s significant). It’s the absence of couth that we’ve come to accept from Mortensen, a stylish performer who embraces the street in every scene of this movie. It’s a remarkable transformation, and one that will have him in a tuxedo on Oscar night, waiting to see if his name might be called as the winner of the Best Actor trophy.
It’s a pleasure watching both men work here. Green Book may be shooting fish in a barrel as it tries to reach obvious conclusions regarding race relations. But the “fish” are still important, and the “barrel” is still relevant, more than 50 years after this story actually took place. And that’s saying something.
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Since Legacies is the joint spinoff of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, it would make sense for more past characters to pop up on The CW show. So far, the list of Vampire Diaries’ and Originals’ returnees include Alaric Saltzman, Hope Mikaelson, twins Josie and Lizzie Saltzman, Dorian Williams, Sheriff Matt Donovan, and Jeremy Gilbert. Legacies has only just gotten started with Season 1, but here are five more familiar faces we soon hope to see in Mystic Falls.
This is the most obvious choice, and if Caroline never does show up, it’s going to be awkward as hell. Caroline should be a main character of this spinoff, as the one who technically owns The Salvatore Boarding School for the Young & Gifted, and mother of Lizzie and Josie Saltzman. She has already been name-dropped on Legacies at this point, and we know Alaric and the twins have different information on her whereabouts.
Alaric’s intel is right; Caroline isn’t recruiting for the school, she’s out on a mission directly related to the twins’ longterm survival. Fans have speculated that Caroline might be trying to find a way to stop the twins from having to undergo the Gemini Coven Merge ritual. Candice King played Caroline on both TVD and The Originals, and we hope to see her at some point on Legacies — if not in Season 1, then in Season 2 (if there is one).
It feels like we’re not done with Malachai “Kai” Parker. Kai (Chris Wood) is Lizzie and Josie Saltzman’s biological uncle, and executive producer Julie Plec recently brought up his name as a reminder that the twins are related to him by blood, so there’s “danger” there. Kai is also connected to Alaric in that Kai killed his own twin sister Jo on the day of her wedding to Alaric. In the process, Kai tried to kill the twins Jo was carrying.
Kai is the last leader of the Gemini Coven. Josie and Lizzie survived that attempt on their lives, so they are also part of the coven. It seems like there’s more story to be told with Kai, especially since he is technically not dead. He was last seen banished in a Prison World, thanks to Bonnie helping Lizzie and Josie put him there. On that note…
Several current characters have history with Bonnie (Kat Graham) — starting with her BFF Caroline and continuing with Matt, Jeremy, Kai, and the twins. Bonnie was last seen in The Vampire Diaries series finale, choosing to leave town to travel the world while Caroline decided to stay in Mystic Falls and run the school. At some point, it would make sense for Bonnie to either return home for good or just make a visit back home in her many travels.
Either way, Bonnie would be a great asset at the school, maybe helping the twins with their Siphoner powers and aiding them in protection against anything Uncle Kai might plan. That may include helping Caroline find a way to stop a Gemini Coven Merge ritual, if that’s part of what Caroline is doing right now.
I’d be happy for any of Hope Mikaelson’s relatives to show up — Rebekah, who was her guardian at one point; or Uncle Kol, Marcel, etc. Hope actress Danielle Rose Russell wasn’t sure if any Mikaelson family members would be joining Legacies, but the door was left open. Powerful witch Aunt Freya (Riley Voelkel) became something of a mentor to Hope as she got older on The Originals, so it would make sense for her to reach out to the teen. Or vice versa.
The Originals ended with Freya asking Vincent to be the father of her children with Keelin. So she’s out there starting a family, and it would be nice for them to visit Hope in Mystic Falls. Or Legacies could take a road trip and have Hope visit her family.
Damon (and Elena) Salvatore
Ian Somerhalder may never return to the role of Damon for Legacies, since he’s busy with his new vampire show, but it would make sense to see him again. The Vampire Diaries ended with Damon as a new human, starting a family with Elena. Dr. Elena Salvatore even opened a practice in Mystic Falls. Damon and Elena should be in town, and it would be nice to see them — especially Damon, since the Salvatore school bears his name and includes the Stefan Salvatore memorial library in honor of his brother.
Damon gave Caroline the boarding house for the school, but it’s not like he’s a stranger. If he and Elena are still in town, they should visit. It’s just a matter of convincing Ian Somerhalder or Nina Dobrev to return to The CW.
So far, all we know for sure is that Legacies plans to give fans more Easter eggs, and some location nostalgia by returning to familiar sets from The Originals. Other than that, the door is open for more TVD/Originals returns, and we’ll have to wait to see who walks through.
Which Vampire Diaries and Originals characters would you most like to see on Legacies? The spinoff airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on The CW. Keep up with more shows to watch in our fall TV schedule.
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