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Terminal City: The Complete Series
Terminal City The Complete Series
Actors: Maria del Mar, Gil Bellows, Paul Sole, Jane McLean, Adam Butcher
Directors: Rachel Talalay, Lynne Stopkewich, Kari Skogland, Stephen Surjik
Genres: Drama, Television
NR     2008     8hr 10min

Hailed as "imaginative and fun" (Entertainment Weekly) and "unlike anything else" (Time Out NY) ? the complete, award-winning series as seen on the Sundance Channel. After being told that she has breast cancer, Katie (Mari...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Maria del Mar, Gil Bellows, Paul Sole, Jane McLean, Adam Butcher
Directors: Rachel Talalay, Lynne Stopkewich, Kari Skogland, Stephen Surjik
Genres: Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Drama, Drama
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 08/05/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 8hr 10min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 3
SwapaDVD Credits: 3
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

While the last episode was almost beautiful, the rest did no
Craig Matteson | Ann Arbor, MI | 09/25/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"OK. I tried to like this series. We went through a battle with cancer in our family during 2007, so I understand that topicality. And I appreciate the fine work every one of the actors put into their roles. I think the photography is quite good, too. But the script is so awkward and strained that the whole production ends up being less than the sum of its parts. The music also contributes very little to the story. It is just too flat and often just creepy. I know they didn't want to be cliché, but creepy is worse.

The series has conflicting premises. It seems to want to be satire or farce about reality TV, but it also wants to treat Katie's breast cancer seriously. This is a conflict that cannot be and is not resolved. Some of the characters are caricatures, and even Katie is damaged by being ridiculous in her TV host role and yet, being vulnerable and human in her illness. The all powerful crazed show producer is a cartoon and would have been wonderful in a farce, but he seems awfully out of place in this series. The actor plays this role wonderfully, but the role is wrong for this piece.

Jane McLean as Jane Richards is the only character that bridges both worlds and her struggle with her family is the only aspect of the story that I wish had been better developed. Otherwise, I think the story would have been better in five episodes instead of ten. In the extras the producer lists a bunch of topics he thinks his series "tackled". But it doesn't "tackle" any of them! It uses them and puts them on screen, but simply showing a picture of a problem is nothing! You have to have a point of view that actually says something rather than merely exhibiting the "topic". Supposing that you have tackled something by showing it is really an odd notion.

Frankly, every one of the central characters is an awful person. (Again, the actors did a fine job). I would not want to know or be friends with any of these people. Their language is unnecessarily coarse. I mean really awful language. At one point the mother praises the "f" word to her daughter. If "real" people swear like this, I don't associate with them and I certainly find it unnecessary in TV shows. Every one of Sampson family members, including the teenagers, thinks that sex is the most important aspect of life and should be indulged in rather indiscriminately and any kind of bad behavior to obtain it is justified. This is still quite immoral in my book.

As for the cancer, the series obviously cannot show how awful it really is. After all the actors are not sick, but Emma Thompson in "Wit" pulls it off much better. First of all, Katie doesn't get sick enough soon enough. She has too much energy for someone several months into chemotherapy. You do a lot more than just vomit inconveniently every now and again. Also, much more should have been done with Katie's mother. She just sort of shows up and nothing much gets resolved or explained. Yes, we learn about Katie's lost brother, but the series never explores the way that loss affected Katie or why mother and daughter were so deeply estranged for so long and they never talk about Katie's illness and death in anything approaching the way real people set the past aside and reach out to each other in such extremity.

Still, the last episode is something special. It is not a mere natural history of the last stages of Katie's illness. Maria del Mar should be especially praised for her performance in this episode. The blending of the real, the longing, the emotional presence, and bewilderment is moving and memorable. Gil Bellows is very good as Katie's husband, Ari. But the role is not much. Ari is quite passive and does little to actually father his children except encourage them in what ends up being awful behavior. Paul Soles as Ari's father Saul is very good, but Saul is also a cartoon. He is so off the wall that his transformation can't get to our heart. We wonder why his long life experience hasn't already taught him these lessons.

So, if you want a series that makes a reality TV show out of breast cancer, enjoy coarse language, focuses on sex like a mania, has some nudity, and treats immoral behavior as a normal part of life, this show could be for you.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
Don't be fooled...
Compusurge | New York City | 06/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Don't let Terminal City fool you by its name or 'apparent' storyline. This series is absolutely fabulous in the same way that Six Feet Under is.

The storyline may sound absurd in that a woman is diagnosed with cancer following her core biopsy and then suddenly she's a superstar. Sound like a downer in some odd way? No way! What transpires midway through episode one will hook you in and hold you tight indeed. A sub-story line of a reality show taking place in the hospital her test is run at turns the table quickly for the show, becoming the core of the plotline. I do not want to reveal much more about this, as I hate spoilers.

That said, the melded family tale is packed with great and well developed characters you come to love (despite their oddities), and 'the whole world watching' plays out with suberb humor surrounding what would normally be a dark plot. Gil Bellows (know best from his key role in Ally Mcbeal) in fantastic as 'the husband'.

This MAY sound like a woman's show, but if you liked Six Feet Under, you'll simply love Terminal City. It's currently airing on Sundance, so you can sneak peak at it for sure, but I, for one, cannot wait for this complete series release."
Couldn't turn it off....
Jennifer P. Sheets | Wolf Creek, OREGON | 08/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Watching this series made me think about how when faced with a situation like terminal illness or just normal stressful times in your life...People still try to stay composed and focused. I think that they do this for their loved ones because on the inside, in their own minds, they must be going insane with worry or fear and the like.
I loved how the writers of this show let the lead actress "go a bit nuts" and how the husband supported that.
I compare this show to series like Weeds, Dead Like Me and Six Feet Under...
Don't be fooled by the title or the topic....It will keep you watching.......and thinking, I know it did me!"