TV Show Reviews
"Empire" review by Suzanne
Premieres January 7
on FOX 9/8c
This is a really good soap opera. There's never been one
like it before. Although it reminds me a bit of past soaps
like "Dallas" and "Dynasty", as well as "Nashville", it's
not the same at all. The mostly-black cast makes a huge
difference, for one thing. They've never had a show like
this on network TV. They had one daytime soap,
"Generations", that had a mostly-black cast, but it was very
tame compared to this.
Like a lot of FOX shows, the characters are very intense
and over-the-top. Cookie does remind one a bit of
Alexis Carrington (or at least the trashier version of her).
Lucious reminds me a bit of both J.R. and Blake, but he's
much worse than either (and also, much more likable than
either). The show's drama never slows down, and there's
always something interested going on. There's a big shocker
at the end of the first episode.
Lucious (Terrence Howard) and Cookie (Taraji P. Henson)
created a musical empire years ago, and as we learn in the
pilot, Cookie stole some drug money to help create it, and
she went to jail for that. She gets out in the first episode
and comes looking for her part of the company as well as her
family. Lucious is now king of this empire and about to go
public with it. He doesn't want Cookie to have her share,
but he does want to choose one of their three sons to run it
after he's gone.
What the rest of them don't know is that Lucious is dying
of ALS, so he only has a few years left, at most, to live
(somewhat similar to the character on "Boss"). All of
the actors do a great job, especially Howard and Henson (who
both starred in "Hustle and Flow", which covered similar
ground; Howard was nominated for an Oscar for that).
There is lots of music, much like "Nashville". Two of the
three sons are singers/rappers.
I don't normally like shows where the protagonist (in
this case, Lucious) is a bad person, but much like the show
"Boss", which I loved, it works if the writing and actors
are fantastic, there are many great characters, and nobody
thinks he's a hero. Also, it's better if they're not police
because I don't like it when they try to portray corrupt
cops as heroes. It works very well on this show.
You'll want to do yourself a favor and check this out. I
will definitely keep watching it if I can fit it into my
Here's a note from Lee Daniels, who created the show, to
those of us in the press:
Dear press member,
Please enjoy the “Pilot” episode of EMPIRE,
a show I created with Danny Strong that will premiere
Wednesday, Jan. 7 (9:00-10:00
PM ET/PT) on FOX. It is now available for
review on the FOX SCREENING ROOM.
The story revolves around music-based
Empire Entertainment, a hugely successful company
built from the ground up by its CEO, LUCIOUS LYON, who is
played by the immensely talented Terrence Howard. We soon
learn that he has been diagnosed with a neurodegenerative
disease that will cause his demise within three years. The
father of three sons, he has to make a decision as to whom
will run the company and continue his legacy – the oldest
son, a smart businessman and the company’s CFO; the middle
son, a musical prodigy who has always infuriated his father
because he is gay; or his youngest son, a gifted rapper, but
a spoiled playboy only in it for fame. To complicate
matters, their mother, COOKIE, played by the incredible
Taraji P. Henson, makes a triumphant return after seven
years in jail, determined to get part of the good fortune as
amends for taking the fall for Lucious’ crimes. This is not
your typical family! Throw in some original songs from one
of the best producers and musicians of our time – Timbaland
– and we’ve got a show that makes you cry, makes you laugh,
makes you cringe, but most importantly, makes you have a
damn good time.
It’s a privilege to be part of the FOX family. They’ve given
me, Danny and Brian Grazer the creative liberties we needed
to make the show we originally envisioned. They allowed us
to cast the people we saw in these roles. And they’ve given
us the support a producer could only dream of.
From a guy who’s spent a career making films mostly in the
independent world, I feel lucky to have been given the
chance to work on a project of this magnitude with a great
team behind me. Now it’s time to show America. I hope you
enjoy the show as much as we have enjoyed creating it.
All my best, Lee Daniels
Find a lot more info about the show on our forum!
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