October 19, 2019

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Opinion

From upper crust to crusty bathrooms

Downton Abbey star Dockery heads to skid row

Brownie Harris / TNT </p><p>Michelle Dockery plays Letty Raines, a recovering alcohol and drug addict, in the drama series Good Behavior.</p></p>

Brownie Harris / TNT

Michelle Dockery plays Letty Raines, a recovering alcohol and drug addict, in the drama series Good Behavior.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/2/2017 (982 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

For some viewers, the simple notion of seeing Lady Mary scrubbing toilets, dropping F-bombs and smoking crack might be enough of an inducement to tune in.

But in order to convince them, and other curious channel-surfers, that it’s worth sticking around for the long haul, Michelle Dockery’s first stateside TV series needs to offer something more than the not-so-guilty pleasure of watching the uppitiest of Downton Abbey’s upper-crusters reduced to down-in-the-gutter behaviour.

Dockery is anything but aristocratic in the mature-audience drama Good Behavior, which has its Canadian première on Monday, Feb. 13, at 9 p.m. on Bravo, and while her American-accented character is interesting to watch, it’s unclear early on whether this series — which debuted on U.S. cable’s TNT network last November — has the narrative heft to sustain it over multiple episodes.

The erstwhile heiress to the Crawley-manor riches is cast as struggling ex-convict Letty Raines, a not-quite-recovering alcoholic/drug addict whose attempt to sustain herself in a straight job comes unravelled early in the series pilot. She’s working as a waitress in an exceedingly greasy-spoon restaurant, flipping burgers and scrubbing filthy commodes until her blunt-force refusal of a creepy customer’s advances prompts her boss to fire her on the spot.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/2/2017 (982 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

For some viewers, the simple notion of seeing Lady Mary scrubbing toilets, dropping F-bombs and smoking crack might be enough of an inducement to tune in.

But in order to convince them, and other curious channel-surfers, that it’s worth sticking around for the long haul, Michelle Dockery’s first stateside TV series needs to offer something more than the not-so-guilty pleasure of watching the uppitiest of Downton Abbey’s upper-crusters reduced to down-in-the-gutter behaviour.

Dockery is anything but aristocratic in the mature-audience drama Good Behavior, which has its Canadian première on Monday, Feb. 13, at 9 p.m. on Bravo, and while her American-accented character is interesting to watch, it’s unclear early on whether this series — which debuted on U.S. cable’s TNT network last November — has the narrative heft to sustain it over multiple episodes.

The erstwhile heiress to the Crawley-manor riches is cast as struggling ex-convict Letty Raines, a not-quite-recovering alcoholic/drug addict whose attempt to sustain herself in a straight job comes unravelled early in the series pilot. She’s working as a waitress in an exceedingly greasy-spoon restaurant, flipping burgers and scrubbing filthy commodes until her blunt-force refusal of a creepy customer’s advances prompts her boss to fire her on the spot.

Bravo</p><p>Michelle Dockery stars in the new made-for-cable drama Good Behavior.</p>

Bravo

Michelle Dockery stars in the new made-for-cable drama Good Behavior.

Fortunately for Letty, she has plenty of less-legal means for making a living. With the help of an on-the-take bartender who supplies her with room numbers and a pass key, Letty helps herself to the riches of a posh hotel’s guests while they’re out of their quarters. It’s easy pickings, at least until one guest makes an unexpected U-turn and Letty finds herself trapped in the closet, hoping he doesn’t develop a sudden need to change his shirt.

While she’s hiding, she overhears a conversation between the guest (Juan Diego Botto) — who, it seems, is a for-hire assassin — and a guy who’s willing to pay a large sum to have his wife killed. This information places Letty in a crisis of criminal conscience, forcing her to decide exactly how far is too far.

She’s OK with robbing strangers, buying and using drugs and lying to her parole officer, but murder — both committing it and allowing it to be committed — takes things over the line, so Letty decides to use the information she’s lifted from the would-be killer’s room to warn the targeted spouse before the contract hit can take place.

It’s a choice that puts Letty’s already shaky existence in jeopardy and also creates an important relationship that will drive subsequent episodes of Good Behavior forward.

Dockery is mostly convincing in this bad-girl role, which is based on the Letty Dobesh Chronicles novels by Blake Crouch, though there are a few moments when it feels as if her accent is on the verge of slipping away. Executive producer/writer Chad Hodge (Wayward Pines) works reasonably hard at explaining how and why Letty has become such a tortured, toxic person — mostly, a hard-knock life that involves a mean-spirited, vindictive mother (Lusia Strus) and a young son whom she has been forbidden, by court order, from seeing.

The first episode is satisfyingly suspenseful, but it ends with a twist that leaves a bundle of storyline strands very loose and slightly frayed. And once the novelty of seeing Lady Mary so completely dressed down starts to wear off, Good Behavior will have to tighten up its narrative very quickly if it hopes to develop anything resembling Downton-deep devotion in its audience.

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @BradOswald

Brad Oswald

Brad Oswald
Perspectives Editor

After three decades spent writing stories, columns and opinion pieces about television, comedy and other pop-culture topics in the paper’s entertainment section, Brad Oswald shifted his focus to the deep-thoughts portion of the Free Press’s daily operation.

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History

Updated on Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 9:48 AM CST: Formatted.

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