A level goes down successful a section sidesplitting everyone connected board. Or everyone isolated from 1 small boy – soon nicknamed “miracle boy” by nan property – who, having mislaid his parents and relative successful nan crash, will now beryllium raised by an aunt. In an instant, hundreds of lives are complete and thousands much are changed forever. How tin nonaccomplishment connected that standard beryllium fathomed?
In 2020, nan writer Ann Napolitano made an attempt. She turned her grim fascination pinch nan real-life 2010 tragedy of Flight 771 into a caller called Dear Edward. In her fictionalised version, nan disaster takes spot connected a formation from New York to Los Angeles and nan nine-year-old Dutch subsister becomes a 12-year-old American boy. The caller was good received, praised for its delicate study of sorrow and healing, and has now been adapted into a 10-episode ensemble play by Jason Katims, champion known arsenic nan Emmy-winning showrunner of high-school shot bid Friday Night Lights.
At nan centre of nan ensemble is Edward, a curly-haired, sickly-looking soft prodigy (Colin O’Brien) who is traumatised first by nan clang (unsparingly played retired successful nan first episode) and past by a deluge of attraction from strangers who unburden themselves some successful penning – nan “Dear Edward” letters of nan title – and successful person. They show him he’s fortunate to beryllium alive. He feels thing but.
That’s acold excessively overmuch to put connected immoderate 1 person, slightest of each a child. Fortunately, nan play is evenly shared betwixt nan 8 halfway members of a bereavement support group. Some of them you can’t thief but attraction for, including 2 played by already established, ever engaging TV stars, Connie Britton (Nashville, American Horror Story, Friday Night Lights) and Taylor Schilling (Orange Is nan New Black). Britton is Dee Dee, an upfront, often tipsy, emotionally earthy housewife, while Schilling is Edward’s aunt turned adoptive mum Lacey, a female whose matrimony and intelligence wellness were already connected nan brink earlier this immense caller work landed successful her lap. Crucially, some actors put their characters pinch immoderate much-needed animation and individuality, modulating nan programme’s different monotonous reside of grief, condolences and yet much unimaginable grief.
There are different winning performances. British character Idris DeBrand charms arsenic Uncle Kojo, nan self-described “Portaloo prince of Ghana”. But location are galore underwritten and uninvolving different characters whose scenes will person you counting nan minutes till you tin beryllium backmost successful Dee Dee’s New Jersey mansion, drinking vino and talking trash astir her dormant husband.
Perhaps these generic grievers would beryllium much memorable if they looked much distinctive? Dear Edward is dutifully divers successful group position but has been formed from nan aforesaid excavation of uniformly slim, symmetrical group arsenic astir US web television, pinch nan effect of undermining its different sincere efforts to picture nan reality of life’s struggles. Any of these dreamboats could locomotion into a modelling statement astatine a moment’s notice.
It’s besides a shame that immoderate tantalising loose communicative threads are near hanging. Like what’s nan woody pinch pregnant Linda’s (Amy Forsyth) interfering LA in-laws who person nan astounding news astir their dormant son, past are ne'er heard from again? Or what astir that oxy-addicted paramedic (played by Mare of Easttown’s Joe Tippett) who responds to nan clang tract while still high? How did his communicative cookware out? Maybe it’s nan quality of an ensemble play to flit from personification to personification pinch nary a backward glance, but successful nan lawsuit of Dear Edward’s already broken-hearted characters, it feels for illustration a peculiarly callous bid of abandonments.
It’s not that TV play must ever uplift, aliases find triumph successful tragedy. Some of nan champion is determinedly dour, pinch only nan blackest humour for alleviation (see Sally Wainwright’s not-so-Happy Valley). But successful opposition to nan easy catharsis of a 90-minute movie tearjerker, downer tv does request to gain our tears. Dear Edward achieves nan basal moments of authentic emotion pinch immoderate regularity (usually courtesy of Connie Britton), but each and each 1 is ruined erstwhile a folk-pop needle-drop comes mewling successful for illustration nan uninvited impermanent astatine a funeral.
We person plentifulness of examples of really well-chosen euphony tin further elevate value tv (I’m still humming nan White Lotus theme), and now here’s a reminder that nan other is besides true. If it mislaid nan genuinely obnoxious soundtrack, Dear Edward would beryllium astatine slightest 25% improved.