Roswell praised for strong female roles

‘Sopranos’ a note above the usual fare broadcast in ’99
Friday, December 31, 1999


I am amused and amazed when people say they don’t watch much television and launch into all the reasons why, unwittingly revealing that they do watch television or they couldn’t possibly be so well-informed about why they allegedly don’t.

Certainly, no one should watch as much TV as a TV critic, but anyone who suggests there hasn’t been anything good on TV in years is either not paying attention or simply being a disingenuous snob. A smidgen of proof from 1999:

1. Rick Schroder on “NYPD Blue.” Possibly Steven Bochco’s most intelligent casting decision. No offense to Jimmy Smits, but Schroder’s gritty portrayal of the mysterious Detective Sorenson made us forget Bobby Simone in a heartbeat.

2. “The Sopranos.” David Chase feared no one would watch another story about the Mafia. But when the writing and the acting are this good, we’ll watch, and we’ll tell the nieces and nephews to start calling us Uncle Junior.

3. “Horatio Hornblower.” A terrific four-parter in the old swashbuckling style, this A&E project had what so many miniseries lack:
the solid feel of historical authenticity.

4. “Once and Again.” If you can’t deal with people using their angst as outerwear, shop elsewhere. And to those who find Sela Ward and Billy Campbell “too attractive” or “too unreal” to be suffering the pain of separation and divorce, go soak your heads in the shallowness of that observation. To anyone seeking honest drama about the fragility of relationships, pull up a comfy chair. And a box of Kleenex.

5. “A Slight Case of Murder.” William H. Macy’s tongue-in-cheek homage to film noir on TNT didn’t generate much notice, but it was a thoroughly entertaining reminder that there’s more to cable than wrestling and “Rugrats.”

6. “Intimate Universe.” This eight-hour British series about what makes us tick aired in two parts on TLC. Wish it were on every week.

7. “Action.” It was edgy. It was profane. It was canceled. Still, it was also one of the funniest, cleverest shows on TV this year.

8. Ken Burns. He can get tedious, but this year’s profile of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony was worth the occasional yawn.

9. Good roles for women. From the fabulous femmes of “The Sopranos” to the strong characters on “Judging Amy,” “Buffy,” “Roswell,” “Felicity,” etc., is it any wonder that movie stars are looking for opportunities in TV?

10. “Joan of Arc.” Speaking of strong women, some critics enjoyed Milla Jovovich’s passionate portrayal of the maid of Orleans in the recent theatrical release, “The Messenger.” But I still think an entire nation of desperate men would be more inclined to accept — and follow — the quietly confident, mystical leader that Leelee Sobieski played so well in the CBS miniseries.