Finding words for a show like this is difficult, both because of the fact that it defies the structure normally adhered to in television drama and because I found myself so completely moved by the experience of watching “Rectify.” I’m no stranger to emotion, and I can be manipulated into reacting to even the most cliché and predictable sentiments, but the way in which “Rectify” was able to move me was different. No manipulation was needed for the amount of empathy this series was able to inspire, and I found myself shedding tears for fictional characters as though they were real. The way in which this series is expertly written, directed and acted suspended my disbelief entirely, and for the moments I was watching each episode, the characters may as well have been real people. In other words, “Rectify” is without a doubt the best drama on television, and it very well may be the best show currently airing in any genre.
There is a compelling premise for the series, involving a man released from 19 years of isolation on death row after new DNA evidence forces the case back open and at least temporarily exonerates him. Daniel Holden (Aden Young) returns home to his family home, although the dynamic has changed since his departure nearly two decades earlier. As well as these adjustments, Daniel also must face the local
community who still believe him to be guilty, despite his release. Georgia
Though this storyline would most often result in either a revenge or mystery narrative, “Rectify” is content simply examining how these events affect the characters. This is not an action, mystery, suspense or thriller. It is a drama which has the bold audacity to present audiences with nothing but character development. The closest comparison that I can think to make is “Mad Men,” and that series falls back on the novelty of being a period piece. Still, both these shows share the common ability of carrying audience’s undivided attention by merely creating compelling characters for us to spend time with.
This is not to say that nothing ever happens in “Rectify,” simply that the show’s characters are what makes the series so compelling. We understand the characters more because of the events which occur, but they never seem to manipulatively occur so that this is possible. Events occur slowly, but they feel more sincere because of it.
The first season only has six episodes, leaving audiences waiting for a second season. All episodes are fit onto two discs, along with a handful of special features. The extras include a few promotional featurettes, including an on-set promo ad which ran on the Sundance Channel. There are also several other behind-the-scenes features, including a look at the cast and series creator Ray McKinnon, a man who has mostly made his career as an actor.
Entertainment Value: 10/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 10/10
Historical Significance: 8/10
Disc Features: 7/10