Forest Whitaker rules Harlem in new gangster series

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published Oct 24, 2019

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Forest Whitaker is one of my favourite Hollywood actors. 

Whether he’s on the big or small screen, his performance is peerless. Imagine my excitement to learn he’s the protagonist in the crime drama "Godfather of Harlem". Even better, in two weeks’ time I will be interviewing him in person. 

The series is a prequel to "American Gangster", a biographical crime drama directed and produced by Ridley Scott. This movie released in 2007. 

"Godfather of Harlem" follows crime boss Bumpy Johnson (Whitaker), newly released after a 10-year stint in jail. This is in the early 1960s. 

To his dismay, the neighbourhood he ran has been taken over by the Italian mob, which doesn’t sit well with him. 

And so he starts to make his presence felt by hitting the mob where it hurts most – their ill-gotten earnings. 

This starts a war with the feared Genovese crime family. Amid this, he strikes an unlikely friendship with human rights activist Malcolm X (Nigél Thatch), whose political path is looking promising. 

By the way, Emmy nominee Vincent D’Onofrio is unrecognisable as Vincent “Chin” Gigante, another mob leader who would like to take Bumpy out, permanently. 

Aside from the major story arc, there are sub-plots contributing to the unfolding mayhem, including an interracial love story. On the one hand, Bumby is dangerous when double-crossed and has no qualms about slitting a man’s throat. On the other hand, he is compassionate and nurturing. 

For viewers with a proclivity for gangster shows like "Peaky Blinders" and "Boardwalk Empire", this series ticks the box. 

Moving onto the latest dating reality show to hit our screens, "First Dates SA" is produced by Rapid Blue. 

If the episodes we’ve seen so far are anything to go by, this show is going to be as successful, if not more so, than "Come Dine With Me South Africa". I love the banter between the couples, some of whom deliver the most quirky and tongue-in-cheek lines. I love the playfulness of the contestants and watching sparks fly. 

What really sells the show for me after watching the Australian version, is the mix of flirty singles. They’re colourful characters from all walks of life and age is nothing but a state of mind. 

By the way, the bartender Travis Kuhn is a serious hottie. 

My curiosity was piqued when I came across "All Rise". At first, I assumed it was something along the lines of "Judge Judy". It isn’t. It’s a legal drama centred on recently appointed judge Lola Carmichael (Simone Missick) at Los Angeles County Superior Court. 

The former prosecutor isn’t welcomed by the boys club, and is asked to refrain from rocking the boat. She puts justice above all else, which makes her unpopular with her seasoned peers but not her female boss and mentor Judge Lisa Benner (Marg Helgenberger of "CSI" fame).

 Don’t go looking for anything along the lines of "The Good Fight", "Suits" or "Bull". While it tries to be more heartfelt and engaging, it’s mediocre.

Kristen Bell is back in season four of "Veronica Mars". Picture: Supplied

 In the meantime, fans of "Veronica Mars" are elated to have the series return for a fourth instalment. Kristen Bell reprises her title role. 

It’s every bit as entertaining as I remember. Veronica and her dad Keith (Enrico Colantoni), who is not feeling his best since the accident, are still working together as private detectives in Neptune, California. 

To keep the business from going under, Veronica takes on as much work as she can. Their fees are aligned with the financial status of the clients. 

When a local hotel is bombed during spring break, leaving several individuals dead, Veronica, her dad and her long-time boyfriend Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) find themselves hired by congressman Daniel Maloof (Mido Hamada) to get to the bottom of the case. 

Meanwhile, a Mexican crime boss sends his henchmen to find the bomber as his nephew was one of the victims… 

There are plenty of red herrings along the way, and knowing Veronica, she fearlessly works her way through them to find the real perpetrator wreaking such mayhem. 

"Godfather of Harlem" is currently streaming on Showmax and airs on 1Magic (DStv channel 103) on Tuesday at 9.30pm. "First Dates SA" is on BBC Lifestyle (DStv channel 174) on Wednesday at 8pm. "All Rise" is on 1Magic (DStv channel 103) on Wednesday at 8.30pm. "Veronica Mars" is on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on Saturday at 9pm.

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