Greenleaf: Season One (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
December 3, 2016 by Dennis Amith
“Greenleaf” is fantastic! Wonderful performances from the whole cast, great character dynamics and complexities that you usually don’t see in a family drama these days. In addition, to wonderful acting, you also get amazing writing and this is no doubt, one of my favorite drama series on television in 2016. “Greenleaf: Season One” is highly recommended!
TITLE: Greenleaf: Season One
SERIES RELEASE: 2016
DURATION: 13 Episodes/9 Hrs. and 15 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, (1:78:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English SDH, and Spanish
COMPANY: Lions Gate
RATED: Not Rated
RELEASE DATE: November 29, 2016
Directed by Clement Virgo, Allan Kroeker, Gregg Araki, Janice Cooke, Donna Deitch, Rob J. greenlea, Regina King, Charles Randolph-Wright, Charles Stone III
Written by Craig Wright, Erica L. Anderson, Mike Flynn, Art Alamo, Mando Alvarado, Ty Burkett, Robert Engels, Elizabeth Hunter, Ivy Mariel Pruss, Casey Vandeventer
Produced by Gerrit van der Meer
Co-Producer: David Lifshin, Albert T. Dickerson III
Supervising Producer: Elizabeth Hunter
Executive Producer: Clement Virgo, Oprah Winfrey, Craig Wright
Cinematography by Francis Kenny
Edited by Lillian Benson, Stephen Mark, Pattye Rogers, Fred Peterson
Casting by Craig Fincannon, Lisa Mae Fincannon, Kime Coleman
Production Design by Bruton Jones
Art Direction by Heather R. Dumas
Set Decoration by Sarah Carter
Costume Design by Johnetta Boone
Merle Dandridge as Grace Greenleaf
Keith David as Bishop James Greenleaf
Lynn Whitfield as Lady Mae Greenleaf
Kim Hawthorne as Kerissa Greenleaf
Lamman Rucker as Jacob Greenleaf
Desiree Ross as Sophia Greenleaf
Tye White as Kevin Satterlee
Deborah Joy Winans as Charity Greenleaf-Satterlee
Lovie Simone as Zora Greenleaf
Benjamin Patterson as Noah Kendall
Gregory Alan Williams as Robert “Mac” McCready
Anna Diop as Isabel
Parnell Damone Marcano as Carlton Cruise
Jen Harper as Deacon Sykes
Karan Kendrick as Wanda
Oprah Winfrey as Mavis McCready
Kristin Erickson as Alexa Campbell
Greenleaf centers on the journey of estranged daughter and disillusioned preacher Grace Greenleaf (Merle Dandridge), who has returned home after 20 years on the occasion of the mysterious death of her sister, Faith. As she reenters the world of Calvary Fellowship World Ministries, the Memphis mega-church run by her powerful parents Bishop James Greenleaf (Keith David) and Lady Mae Greenleaf (Lynn Whitfield), it becomes evident that things are not as virtuous as they seem…and that the family’s outward display of faith hides sin and misdeeds.
In 2016, The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) debuted its 13-episode scripted drama series “Greenleaf”.
With Oprah Winfrey serving as Executive Producer and also starring in the series, “Greenleaf” also stars Merle Dandridge (“The Night Shift”, “Star-Crossed”), Keith David (“Platoon”, “Crash”, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”), Lynn Whitfield (“Stepmom”, “The Josephine Baker Story”, “The Rebound”), Kim Hawthorne (“The Chronicles of Riddick”, “Lucky Louie”, “Rake”), Lamman Rucker (“Meet the Browns”, “Why Did I Get Married” films), Desiree Ross (“Falling Skies”, “A Country Christmas Story”), Tye White (“Drumline: A New Beat”, “Bottled”), Deborah Joy winans (“Whitney”, “Fragile World”), Lovie Simone (“Monster”), Benjamin Patterson (“Grey’s Anatomy”, “Dear Secret Santa”, “Noah’s Arc”) and many more.
With a successful first season, a second series was announced and now, “Greenleaf” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Lions Gate Entertainment.
Greenleaf follows the Greenleaf family as many have gathered together for the funeral of Faith. Estranged daughter, Grace Greenleaf (portrayed by Merle Dandridge) and her daughter Sophia (portrayed by Desiree Ross) have returned home after 20 years of escaping the Greenleaf family and because Grace had renounced the family and stayed away for so long, Grace is not really welcomed back.
While her father Bishop James Greenleaf runs a Memphis megachurch which many of the African-American community attend, he is probably the only person that is happy to see his daughter back home.
Grace’s mother, Lady Mae (portrayed by Lynn Whitfield) sees her daughter as a troublemaker and part of the reason why everyone is not thrilled of her return is because Grace accused her Uncle Mac (portrayed by Gregory Alan Williams) of raping Faith.
While Grace’s aunt Mavis McCready (portrayed by Oprah Winfrey), who is Lady Mae’s sister, know that he did the crime and probably hurt others, no one in the family believed Grace and felt she was trying to start trouble.
Meanwhile, Grace’s brother Jacob (portrayed by Lamman Rucker) is trying to make sure that he’s the next person in line to run the church, if something happens to the Bishop, but because his wife Kerissa (portrayed by Kim Hawthorne) is more into Jacob growing in power within the family, it has pushed Jacob to having an affair with the bishop’s secretary, Alexa Campbell (portrayed by Kristin Erickson).
Grace’s younger sister Charity (portrayed by Deboray Joy Winans) has a problem with Grace treating her like a young girl and is often trying to speak up for herself. She’s trying to have a baby with her husband Kevin Satterlee (portrayed by Tye White). But for Kevin, he notices that many gay men are into him and he tends to question his sexuality and curiosity with men and wonders if he is straight or gay.
As for Grace’s daughter Sophia tries to get used to her new surroundings and going to a new school, she becomes close with Jacob’s daughter Zora (portrayed by Lovie Simone) who likes to have fun and also doing things to rebel against the family and gets Sophia to rebel as well. But for Sophia, she becomes interested in religion but is torn between staying with her mom and wanting to stay with her father. And also trying to get used to her surroundings as she is half black/half white and also not aware of religion.
And Grace’s father and mother try to have a lavish lifestyle, but an investigation is pending if the Greenleaf’s are illegally using church funds to fund their lifestyle.
And as for Grace…why did she really come back home to Memphis?
“Greenleaf: Season One” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). The TV series looks absolutely fantastic as closeups show great detail. Outdoor scenes look very good and for the most part, for a TV series, “Greenleaf” looks good in HD!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Greenleaf: Season One” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The series is primarily dialogue drive and for the most part, dialogue and music is crystal clear. Surround channels are primarily for ambiance but the overall soundtrack is dialogue and music-driven.
Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.
“Greenleaf: Season One” comes with the following special features:
- The Oprah Winfrey Conversations – Featuring 5-6 minute interviews with Oprah Winfrey and director Clement Virgo, actress Merle Dandridge, actor Keith David, actress Lynn Whitfield and director Regina King.
- Music Sessions: Greenleaf – (3:13) A featurette about the making of the music for the series.
- Creating Greenleaf – (10:21) Interviews with cast and crew about working on “Greenleaf”.
- Gagreel – (2:30) Outtakes from season one of “Greenleaf”.
“Greenleaf: Season One” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet code.
“Greenleaf” is a powerful drama series that features several intertwining stories involving family members that are part of a Memphis megachurch but as the family wants to continue the powerful congregation and continue to become financially successful, one estranged daughter returns back home for the death of her younger sister and now wants justice.
The main story focus on Grace Greenleaf, estranged daughter who had left the Greenleaf family after telling her family that her sister Faith was raped by Uncle Mac, Lady Mae’s brother.
Tired of religion and her family treating her as a liar, she left home.
But with the death of Faith, Grace returns back home. But while her true reasons are unknown to the Greenleaf family, Grace wants to literally infiltrate the family, find out the truth of her Uncle Mac and learn why Faith killed herself.
And while Grace continues her secret investigation, her family members have a lot of drama going on in the background.
Her brother Jacob sees himself in line to be the next one to run the megachurch but his wife Kerissa, who is very ambitious thinks that Grace has come back to hurt her husband’s chances. But Jacob is unhappy with his marriage due to Kerissa’s ambition and he is having an affair with the Bishop’s/his father’s secretary.
Charity Greenleaf-Chatterly, Grace’s younger sister dislikes that no one tells her anything and is treated like the baby of the family even though she is an adult. So, she wants to not only show that she has a presence, not just as a singer at the congregation but as a woman and she wants to have a baby with her husband Kevin. Problem is that she doesn’t know that Kevin is struggling whether or not he is straight or gay.
Meanwhile, as the Greenleaf’s are running a successful church, they are going to face hardtimes as an investigation is ongoing if the Greenleaf’s are misusing church funds to fund their lavish lifestyle but also their trust/distrust of each other.
If anything, this is a true dysfunctional family and it’s a family that people will enjoy watching on television. Despite the fact that the family is looked as perfect, because of religion and financial success and the facade the family promotes to the public, they are anything but. But no matter how dark things get, they somehow manage to come together as family, even if there is turmoil or resentment within the family members.
And if anything, what makes this series truly work is the outstanding performances across the board. It’s one thing to expect Oprah Winfrey to be amazing but to see everyone feeding off each other’s performance, “Greenleaf” is mesmerizing and powerful.
And also, the writing is wonderful to show interesting characters but also showcasing empowered women, topics of questioning religion, struggling identities, infidelity and other complexities with each character that writers can further explore in future seasons.
And I have to say that growing up, this storyline is something you would see with Caucasian characters and I love the fact that we have a storyline that features African American actors and showcasing people of high aspirations, problematic relationships and so much more!
I absolutely enjoyed this series and its season finale, it made me highly anticipating this upcoming second season! I can’t wait!
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is great for the a TV series with closeups showcasing wonderful detail and the lossless soundtrack featuring crystal clear dialogue and music. And as for special features, you get quite a few short featurettes as well.
Overall, “Greenleaf” is fantastic! Wonderful performances from the whole cast, great character dynamics and complexities that you usually don’t see in a family drama these days. In addition, to wonderful acting, you also get amazing writing and this is no doubt, one of my favorite drama series on television in 2016. “Greenleaf: Season One” is highly recommended!
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