Rectify, a Sundance Channel series that hits shelves as a DVD release today isn't easy to like. More importantly, it's impossible not to like. It's gritty and raw, often unpleasant ... and wonderful.
From the producers of Breaking Bad, the first season of Rectify follows Daniel Holden (stoically and unknowable as played by Aden Young), newly released from prison after spending 20 years on death row for supposedly raping and killing his girlfriend while he was still a teen. His younger sister, Amatha (wonderfully complicated as played by Abigail Spencer) and his mother are the only ones happy to see him home. The rest of the family runs the gamut from outright hostile to carefully and cautious. The townsfolk are mostly in the outright hostile camp, with the majority wanting to see him dead or at least run out of town.
The story moves along with Daniel resisting contemporary technology, shunning cell phones and iPads for a more familiar cassette player and dusty collection of mix tapes while his family, the victim's family, interested lawyers and legal officials try to figure out what to do with the not-officially-guilty-but-maybe-not innocent Daniel.
Clayne Crawford plays Ted, Daniel's selfish, manipulating step-brother. It would be easy to write him off as a one note character, and to a point, he is, but Crawford is too skilled to miss any chance to show us otherwise. When Daniel begins discussing his being gang raped in prison, Ted stays with him, in the moment and open to Daniel's unnerving honesty.
There are six episodes in the release, with a healthy selection of extras, including behind the scenes, meet-the-cast and on the set featurettes.
One word of caution about Rectify - don't watch it all in one sitting. You need a bit of time to digest Daniel's re-acclimation to life on the outside.
Also on our watch list today is the Athena release Understanding Art, Hidden Lives of Masterpieces, with a look at all the dirt -- literally -- and inside stories about restoration, alteration, protection and recycling of masterworks at the Louvre. Originally designed as a documentation of several journees d'etude or study dates with curators, scientists and restoration experts coming together to view and discuss some of the Louvre's most important holdings (removed from their frames and in natural light), the films eventually became a television series. Understanding Art takes at-home viewers along for the ride as the experts examine, argue and discover previously unknown, or at least unconfirmed, information about the individual works.
Art lovers will enjoy the up-close examination of familiar masterpieces and titillating stories about the truth behind how they were made, what they meant to the artists painting them and what they've come to mean to modern audiences.