Gang attacks, life-is-ours-to-grab speeches and fiery femmes who dance to salsa beats in the kitchen. If Showtime’s “Resurrection Blvd.” didn’t have a Latino presence behind the camera, it would certainly be labeled one of the most culturally cliched programs on television. As it is (with Hispanic helmers, writers and thesps), this 22-episode original series may have its heritage-heavy heart in the right place, but anyone looking for a deeply rooted purpose will be surprised to see yet another show on which hotheads switch from English to Spanish when they get frustrated. Is this what diversity on TV is all about?
Skein is definitely a P.C. darling on paper. A Los Angeles-based familia sticks together through ups and downs while trying to survive a “white” world. A good intention, to be sure, but there isn’t much substance backing it up.
Debut is all over the barrio, spotlighting siblings who overprotect each other, a stern and stoic father, and plaid-wearing, gun-toting hoodlums. Based on that familiar setup — and its execution — the outlook looks even more bleak for Gregory Nava’s Hispanic-themed “An American Family,” one of CBS’ hopeful pilots that is now looking for a home elsewhere.
Two-hour bow centers on Carlos Santiago (Michael DeLorenzo), a cocky boxer who keeps a vigilant eye out for his sassy sister Victoria (Marisol Nichols), a confused high schooler who falls for the wrong guy for all of the wrong reasons.
Their guiding light is dad Roberto (Tony Plana), a mechanic who, unable to achieve his own level of fame, rides Carlos’ coattails into the ring as his proud coach. The brains have gone to bookish brother Alex (Nicholas Gonzales), a UCLA medical student who gives up his future to fight after Carlos is left paralyzed from a shooting.
The women are more peripheral players, standing by as the boys blow their tempers, screw up in love and make bad decisions. Their main concerns: Yolanda (Ruth Livier) wants a boyfriend; Victoria skips school; and well- meaning aunt Bibi (Elizabeth Pena) turns everything into a sermon.
“Resurrection Blvd.” deserves major points for effort. There are only so many shows about Anglo-yuppie thirtysomethings who sit around and drink coffee that auds can take, so having new faces of color to watch really does nourish the smallscreen landscape.
But there’s nothing innovative here at all from a narrative angle. Supporters of projects that focus on minority groups always claim that reality cannot be changed, that the ‘hood is about criminals and broken dreams. Fine. But those advocates have to realize that everyone with a TV set has seen this before. Jesus Salvador Trevino directs every event as if anger and jealousy are new emotions, and scenarist Dennis Leoni’s words reflect none of the intensity viewers should expect from individuals torn apart by unequal opportunities.
Even when there are some passionately conveyed flashes — Roberto’s moment of clarity regarding his children’s well-being is touching — they’re knocked aside by a last-minute, gratuitous sex scene and a ridiculous finale in which mute Uncle Ruben (Daniel Zacapa) comes to Victoria’s rescue — not exactly the profound things expected from people with issues to raise.
The east L.A. community is utilized to great effect, supplying authenticity to a story that would be lost without it, and Cheech Marin and Paul Rodriguez pop in with cameos.