TV Review Jackie K Cooper
"Dancing On the Edge" (Starz)
October is the month if not the year of actor Chiwetel Ejiofor. He not only has a major motion picture, "12 Years A Slave," being released in theaters, he also is the leading man for the Starz original mini-series "Dancing On the Edge." In both he is a presence who can't be ignored. The movie shows his dramatic capabilities but it is the mini-series that shows his ability to be a romantic leading man.
Ejiofor plays Louis Lester, a band leader whose musical group rises to prominence in London in the 1930's. They are a very talented group but it is the interest by the Royal family in their music that makes them in demand. Once Prince George gives his seal of approval then the upper crust of London's society follows suit. And though the members of the band are black they are accepted for the most part in all areas of London's high society.
Aside from Prince George, their most influential supporter is the reclusive Lady Cremone (Jacqueline Bisset). Their music and friendship brings her out of the state of depression she has been in since the deaths of her sons during World War I. She becomes particularly close to Stanley Mitchell (Matthew Goode), a writer about the musical scene in London. He has adopted the band as his own personal favorite in his magazine.
Also on the edge of the group is a wealthy man named Masterson (John Goodman). He is completely eccentric and sometimes exhibits bizarre behavior but his wealth keeps him protected from criticism. He has a lackey of sorts in Julian Luscombe (Tom Hughes) who is the clean up guy for his bad behavior.
The drama in the show comes when there is a brutal assault and some of the band members are thought to be involved. They go from overnight favorites to pariahs in some areas. Louis particularly finds himself caught in the crosshairs of the police.
The acting in this show is amazing. Ejiofor is completely believable as the suave band leader who captures the attention of the masses as well as that of the beautiful photographer Sarah (Janet Montgomery). He acts in the manner of a young Cary Grant with sophistication and charm seeping from every pore.
The supporting cast is also strong with Bisset presenting a character of beauty and wisdom. The mini-series belongs to Ejiofor but Bisset is the standout among the rest of the cast. This is not to distract from the contributions of Goode, Goodman and Hughes, as well as Angel Coulby as the smoky and seductive Jessie, a singer with the band.
The look and feel of the series is 1930's London from top to bottom. This is mostly because of the hauntingly beautiful jazz music that permeates every scene and the carefully designed clothes the actors wear. There is that total "feel" to the look and sound of the show.
Starz has a definite winner in this six part series, which could have viewers asking for more and more. Ejiofor emerges as a strong leading man for any and everything he wants to do in the future, and Jacqueline Bisset revitalizes her career. In look, content and presentation "Dancing On the Edge" is a mini-series not to be missed.
"Dancing On the Edge" airs Saturday nights on Starz beginning October 19.
Jackie K Cooper