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Praise is justified for Ray McKinnon’s Rectify

By Michael Storey

This article was published May 9, 2013 at 3:07 a.m.

Aden Young

I have been remiss in my duties and an outstanding new drama may have slipped under your radar.

The newspaper’s film guru, Philip Martin, alerted you last week to the advent of Rectify on the Sundance Channel, but in case you missed his column, here’s a reminder.

Rectify is created and written by Martin’s friend, the Arkansas-connected Ray McKinnon. It airs at 9 p.m. Mondays on Sundance and still has a couple of episodes to go before the May 20, Season 1 finale.

The series is available On Demand if you need to catch up. You’ll want to do that, because Sundance has already renewed the adult drama for Season 2. Ten new episodes will arrive sometime next year.

Rectify is Sundance’s first wholly owned original scripted series and the critical response has been overwhelmingly positive.

McKinnon, who was married to Arkansas native Lisa Blount (An Officer and a Gentleman, Profit) until her death in 2010, is a Georgia native with a resume that includes actor, screenwriter, director and producer. McKinnon and Blount also won an Academy Award in 2002 for their short film The Accountant.

Several years ago, McKinnon (who is featured in ex-Arkansan Jeff Nichols’ Mud) told Martin about an idea he was kicking around.

According to Martin, McKinnon said he “wanted to make stories about people like him - like us and the people we know. Stories that were specific to the places and times and situations we grew up in. Stories where the decent small-town guy didn’t necessarily have to be a clueless bumpkin.”

Eventually, Rectify was born.

Sarah Barnett, Sundance Channel president and general manager, called the series “distinctive” and said, “The response to Rectify has been incredible. We feel as though this story has tapped into something truly unique.”

The series stars Aden Young as Daniel Holden, a man released from prison after 19 years of isolation on death row for the rape and murder of his teenage girlfriend.

Thanks to new DNA evidence, his conviction has been vacated and Holden is going home - “back into a world he no longer knows.”

Holden is haunted by his past; tortured by the present;and uncertain about his future.

Naturally, his unexpected return has a tremendous effect on the small town of Paulie, Ga., and Holden’s family is thrown into turmoil.

There is a ripple effect that touches the prosecutor who rode the infamous case to the state senate; the sheriff who “pushed the boundaries” in his investigation; and the entire town that blamed Holden for the murder of one of their own.

Drama ensues.

Playing Holden’s younger sister Amantha in one of the more fascinating roles is Abigail Spencer (Oz, the Great and Powerful). Amantha believes in Holden’s innocence and has spent her entire adult life working for his release.

Spencer says, “Amantha Holden is a fully realized woman who is very complicated. Her entire life has been colored by her brother’s exile. What happened to Daniel has kind of become her identity.”

Young adds, “She’s dealing with a family torn apart by the loss of her father and the remarriage of her mother. Very much she wants to see Daniel released. She’s got a real warrior’s spirit.”

“What has kept Amantha going over the years,” Spencer says, “is the singular vision of Daniel being released. So now it’s going to have to shift. It’s going to be an act of letting go.”

J. Smith-Cameron (True Blood) plays Janet Talbot, Holden’s mother. Luke Kirby (Take This Waltz) portrays Jon Stern, Holden’s lawyer. Stern and Amantha have fallen in love, but their relationship is centered on Holden.

Clayne Crawford (A Walk to Remember) portrays Ted Talbot Jr., the stepbrother Holden never met. Adelaide Clemens (The Great Gatsby) is Tawney Talbot, Ted’s kind-hearted wife; and Jake Austin Walker (The Chaperone) plays Holden’s half brother, Jared.

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. E-mail:

Weekend, Pages 32 on 05/09/2013

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