When I enjoy a television show my friends and followers are going to hear about it, a lot. The majority of the time I’m going to turn hordes of people on to the shows I’m addicted to because you trust my judgement. If I don’t like a show you might hear about it even more, at least at first because I’ll mock it endlessly (I mean how many life altering episodes are we going to sit through?). I’m going to give you a rundown on three shows I’ve been watching for three different reasons so listen closely. We begin with Kingdom starring Frank Grillo. Then over the next few days we’ll move on to The Magicians on Syfy and DC Comics Legends of Tomorrow.
The ability to create a television show I’m going to come back to each week is based on two things. Writers with heart and actors who love their character. Writers are so rarely appreciated, but stop and think about who actually creates these stories. When people ask an actor endless questions about their character’s future I want to stop them and say “Ask the writers! The actor might not know much past the script in his or her hand.” But then it’s up to the talent to do what’s necessary in order to become that person on paper. And I better believe you or else I’m turning the channel.
Frank Grillo and Kingdom – A One Two Punch of Awesome
Let’s start with Kingdom. Wait, rewind or at least slow down. Let’s start with Kingdom’s star Frank Grillo. Because yes please and thank you. Does anyone not love Frank Grillo? And if you are reading this saying “I don’t think I love Frank Grillo, do I, who the heck is Frank Grillo?” Go check out his IMDB and then take a moment to remember at least 3 moments in Frank Grillo career history. Homework go do it.
He’s one of the stars of a movie called Disconnect which is on my Top 10 favorite movies list. Parents need to watch this movie and Grillo carried it. It’s chilling, what our kids can be doing behind our back. He’s most known as Brock Rumlow in the Captain America Winter Soldier movie. He’s expanding that character into Civil Wars as Crossbones.
Frank knows how to market himself on social media. Be forewarned if you follow Frank Grillo on Instagram you’ll never let your battery drain again (shirtless pics and he got a puppy). His celebrity wife Wendy Moniz who will also be co-starring on Kingdom has an Instagram account as well and she often posts pictures you will enjoy. (Though I can’t figure out if her account is for fans or family and I feel really yucky commenting or liking anything). I also have an endearing IRL story about him that I can say just genuinely proves him to be one of the nicest guys in the business (and I interact with a lot of the guys). I’m going to try and snag an interview with him to share between here and Huffpo but I’ve probably waited too long, he has Purge 3 and CAWS coming out soon (among other things, so many movies coming out this year) so he’s going to get busy, but I promise I’ll try.
So Kingdom. This drama is difficult to come by because it’s a Directv Original Series airing only on Audience Network. That is ridiculously limiting. So for the 9 of you that have Directv listen closely. I’m kidding, because the good news is you can purchase individual episodes of Kingdom on Amazon or iTunes and buy the Kingdom Dvd’s on Amazon.
When they first started advertising it with the $300 in spare change everybody was able to chip in on set, I was unimpressed. One of my favorite actors was going to star in a show on a network I didn’t even get, and the show was about MMA/Cage Fighting. I’m a busy girl, too many shows to watch as it is what with my Netflix ambassadorship and the Netflix original series added to my alphabet network mix.
How I Discovered Alvey Kulina
But then my girlfriend Kim posted about Kingdom and I had a forever long car ride ahead of me so I purchased the first 2 episodes. And then the world stopped and the only thing on my radar was Alvey Kulina portrayed by Frank Grillo. So many women love a “project” when it comes to men. I am not this woman btw (I think I might be a project) but Alvey is a fixer’s dream come true. He’s loyal to a fault (at the beginning at least) and he’s smooth too, really head over heels for his girlfriend Lisa who you’ll learn about in a moment. He also maintains these characteristics while beating the living hell out of people in a boxing ring. However, he’s the worst decision maker of all time. I mean he’s worse than Rob Lowe in those Directv commercials. Enjoy Alvey in those first handful of episodes because it’s all downhill from there. Not the show itself, just his character’s utterly pathetic life. It’s actually cringe worthy watching him make the wrong decision over and over. Alvey needs a babysitter and Lisa is just that, if only he’d listen once in a while.
The general premise of the show is Frank Grillo’s character Alvey Kulina was an MMA legend. Now he owns a gym in Santa Monica called Navy St. He can just barely pay the rent which is a sore spot between he and his girlfriend. Alvey trains his son to carry on the family name in mixed martial arts. If you don’t know what it is, look it up. Aside from that Alvey mainly works out and complains about the people who actually pay their gym membership taking up space for the people who don’t pay their gym membership. It’s a whole thing.
His son Nate, is played by (okay wait, don’t go, just wait) Nick Jonas. I’m not going to lie to you folks because I never do, Nick hasn’t really grown on me quite yet. That being said though, it would spoiler alert the entire review to tell you everything that happens to Nate in season one and two. His story line is complicated. The first season of the show his character was this quiet miserable young guy but for good reason and he barely had any lines. It seemed like an odd casting choice and then the character didn’t flesh out. But there is something going on with Nate I didn’t pick up on, but Tim did and when he told me it made a bit more sense. The second season adds more personality to Nate and I think he’s going to build and grow. We know he’s multi talented so I’m patiently waiting for him to prove it.
Lisa, Alvey’s girlfriend (Kiele Sanchez) is a dream come true. She has given everything to Alvey and has received little in return, but she’s a fixer and she’s happy with her life. She runs the gym and puts up with his crap. But it’s okay because the majority of his crap is just everyday life stuff, money mostly and his keen ability to freak out over who knows what. Until it’s not and then she’s ready to put her tools away. However, she doesn’t have much to walk away with because she’s been giving and giving and giving to Alvey. Or as he sees it, she’s been giving it to them, their relationship, their gym. It’s just all in his name. I feel for Lisa in every single episode. She’ been so supportive for so many years. Most of the time I think she is the only adult in the room.
Alvey has another son named Jay (Jonathan Tucker) who is freaking fantastic. He’s a mess, a cocky, rage filled mess. 100% his father’s son. Alvey won’t train or back him in fights because he can’t be trusted, which is saying a lot since it’s his kid. He’s allowed in the gym before Nate’s fights for light sparring and moral support but that’s it. Jay’s a firecracker, absolutely zero self confidence walking around like the biggest man in town. But Jay Kulina also has the biggest heart.
Then we have the trouble maker (no wait, that’s Alvey) Ryan played Matt Lauria. Ryan was Lisa’s (yep that Lisa) fiance and a prize fighting champion years back. However he got tangled up in drugs and rage issues and during a family intervention, beat his Dad so badly he was sent to prison. But now he’s out and he wants to help at the gym.
This is about when Alvey’s first bad decision is made. Lisa’s feelings about the situation are completely ignored. As a woman I can say that 2 seasons (1 1/2 because season 2 has two parts and the second part releases this Summer) worth of a shit storm was caused by this very moment, Alvey saying yes to Ryan’s request.
Ryan’s prison release and parole is pretty much the comedy relief for this intense drama, I won’t even get into it, you’ll have to see it for yourself. Ryan’s a mess, emotions all over the map, but he’s trying to pull it together. He has an agenda and although Alvey’s not clued in, Lisa can see it from a mile away and she’s done.
Christina Kulina (played by Joanna Going) is Alvey’s estranged wife (she’s a drug addicted hooker y’all). Jay finds out where she’s turning tricks and she becomes a constant character on the show. Also a constant pain in Lisa’s ass. She decides it’s time to get a divorce, kind of what they’ve all been waiting for, but somehow more pieces of this already wrecked family begin falling apart around them. Joanna’s portrayal of a woman torn between addiction and reuniting with her family will break your heart. It’s like, you never blame her for her bad choices somehow. Besides, they were probably Alvey’s fault in the first place.
Kingdom is About Family Not Just Frank Grillo And Boxing Gloves
Now I hear you. My demographic of women could very possibly be staring at me owlishly at the thought of purchasing episodes (or signing up with Directv) of a show about MMA (but statistically women call the shots and spend the money in the household) so our demographic is important. But Kingdom is so much more than that so we need to get on board. It’s a family drama but with more grit. Audience doesn’t have to follow the same rules as alphabet network television so they have more to work with. I tend to zone out and grow my Instagram during the cage fighting. Every episode doesn’t end with an emotional embrace in the foyer claiming they’ll “get through it”. But still, Frank Grillo. So don’t forget about that.
Kingdom on Audience, featuring the amazing Frank Grillo, is the television show I most recommend you catch up on now so that you can be ready for season 2b which will be out on June 1st. It seems like I’ve given away everything there is to know, but I’ve really told you nothing at all. If I’m willing to go over to my mother in law’s house to watch this show, you can darn well watch it with me.
Next we’ll be breaking into Brakebill’s University to talk about SyFy’s The Magicians based on the Lev Grossman books. Subscribe to my newsletter for updates.