The women in Orange return
Season two adds complexity to character and racial divide
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK: SECOND SEASON available for streaming on Netflix Friday (June 6). Rating: NNNN
Were you bugged by Orange Is The New Black's central character, Piper Chapman's, deer-in-the-headlights, poor-me posture in Litchfield Penitentiary?
If you were, I have good news. In season two, Chapman (Taylor Schilling) gets a lot harder, thanks to a nasty betrayal in the first episode. It's about time she found her inner mean girl who snarls at a shell-shocked new inmate (Kimiko Glenn).
In season one it was often a relief to get away from Chapman and her sob story of entitlement and drug busts. Fortunately, OITNB continues to pursue the strategy of opening up Piper Kerman's original memoir to look into the backstories of Litchfield's other inmates.
We find out more about Taystee (Danielle Brooks), and why, when she was released for a period, she could make no connections on the outside. The unpredictability of Suzanne, aka Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba), comes into clearer focus. And, most compellingly, we learn what's going on with Morello (Yael Stone) and the wedding plans that got scotched when she went to jail.
The racial divide deepens this season thanks to the arrival of charismatic Vee (the always superb Lorraine Toussaint), a manipulative drug dealer - formerly Taystee's mentor. She's serving a second term and is appalled that the black population no longer rules at Litchfield. She'll do what she can to change that.
Yes, OITNB is probably not an accurate depiction of prison life. If you were aggravated by the racial stereotypes in season one, you won't find relief in season two, even if the writers start referring to Crazy Eyes more often by her real name. If you wanted to strangle Chapman's boyfriend (Jason Biggs), that urge will remain powerful.
But if you loved the first season, you'll love this. And if you dug the dyke content, there's tons in season two. Chapman's girlfriend Alex (Laura Prepon) appears in only one of the first six episodes, but get ready for the competition between Big Boo (Lea DeLaria, still gloriously outrageous) and Nicky (Natasha Lyonne) over who's getting the most woman-on-woman action.
Personally, I find that hard to resist.
Susan G. Cole
Suffering from Walt (Bryan Cranston, left) and Jesse (Aaron Paul) withdrawal? Don't worry. The complete Breaking Bad is out.
BREAKING BAD: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Sony Pictures) This time last year we were all wondering how one of the best drama series of all time would end. Now we know what happened to high-school-chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-dealer Walter White (Bryan Cranston), his protege Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) and the family, friends and colleagues caught up in their spiralling descent played out in the sunbaked Southwest. This is the third complete series set. One had tons of extras (it was packaged in a mock chemical barrel and included memorabilia like a Pollos Hermanos apron); the other had none. This has all the disc extras of the former but comes in a regular case and boasts a cheaper price. Sounds like an offer we can't refuse. 2,952 min.
Available on DVD, Blu-ray. Extras: Documentary on final eight episodes, commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes.
JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT (Kenneth Branagh) is a proudly square espionage thriller that satisfies on that basic spy-movie level, the one where people race through city squares shouting technobabble into jacket mics while a clock ticks down to an unspecified disaster. Chris Pine looks suitably panicked as a Tom Clancy hero. Some subtitles. 105 minutes. NNN (Norman Wilner)
DVD and Blu-ray extras: audio commentary by director Branagh and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, featurettes. Also available for streaming.
LONE SURVIVOR (Peter Berg) turns an actual 2005 incident in which four Navy SEALs were stuck in the mountains of Afghanistan when a mission went sour into an endless action sequence meant to celebrate brotherhood, honour and shooting people in the head. Some subtitles. N (NW)
DVD and Blu-ray extras: making-of featurettes. Also available for streaming and downloading.