Monday, January 12, 2015
Empire is the brand new very shiny series to come out of Black America with a powerful mostly black cast. It's so new there's only one episode out. Lol.
Empire is about a drug dealer turned music mogul, a rich man after his first album helped him break free of poverty. A few problems come up for him, however, because he has three sons and he has to hand over his empire to one of them - and they're not the only ones who want a piece, including but not limited to his ex-wife Cookie who just got out of jail 13 years early (cut short from a 30 year jail sentence) and was the one who gave him the 400k to start off in the first place.
I don't even know where to begin singing its accolades. I love the soundtrack! It has a lot of good music, probably because the guy in charge of the music is Wonder - man - Timbaland (you'll see why this is important a little later on). The music is good in both the background whatevers and the music the characters sing. I thought it was a black Glee with great original music the first time I watched it. (It's not)
I love the actors. Terrence Howard is a wife beater but a great actor (isn't it unfortunate that these celebrities have...um...what are they called...flaws? Boring). I have great faith in Taraji's skills, always have - she was awesome in No Good Deed with Idris Elba, and actually enabled us to look away from him, which is no mean feat. Aaaaaaaand, si Henson and Howard were in Hustle and Flow pamoja? They've got that history down pat. Malik Yoba appears as the most sneer-filled baddie, and does so well (you'll remember him from Cool Runnings, if you're, like, old, and Why Did I Get Married, if you're new).The story might get a little corny - flashy shows always do - but I hope all of the other great factors won't let it descend into something awful.
I said shiny before: I love the shiny - and believable (who buys Single Ladies??) -successful black people-ness, much like what the Cosby Show did in its time. Though this is something 50 Cent tried to do in his (badly written with meh music because he is in charge of the music) show Power, Empire does what 50 does not - they do it right. I mean you know what good music for ANYthing - like distracting you from the fact that Rio 2 was not actually a good movie...
Already there's been some controversy concerning the shows: 50 was saying they stole his idea and his marketing strategy (because those can be patented, of course. Pssssh. Baby.). Taraji replied on Twitter saying 'I care about $, not cents.'
I pick Empire over Power any day, and I actually sat through more than 1 episode of Power, really hoping it would get better. It didn't. Thematically, even, 50 doesn't have a case - the only commonalities the shows share are too basic to be accused of copying, e.g., a mostly black cast, ex-drug dealer turned businessman...and that's about it. So let's see if Empire can maintain this high of good storytelling, acting and music - and making black folk look good - with all the success of Cosby sans molestation accusations, yes?