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TV Open Thread: The Kennedys – Part III

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ReelzChannel has struck television gold in winning a sizeable share of the household viewership for its Sunday 2-hour premiere of The Kennedys. Its historicity is drawn from Laurence Leamer’s 896-page 2002 book, The Kennedy Men: 1901-1963.

Part III aired Tuesday night and is a solid hour with an often dour yet also truly lifelike portrait emerging of our 35th president; his inauguration and first 90 days. We are watching Jack becoming JFK. Greg Kinnear in closeups and in long shots brings Jack alive.  But I find his lighter, wittier, winning big personality alter ego in shorter supply. History will not be held back by a new president and suddenly Jack’s cloudless start gets rocky with his okay of a Cuban invasion to oust Fidel Castro, who has yet to budge. A campaign doomed from the get go.

Jack’s political waistcoat is singed in the fire of the best of brightest sans his brother Bobby.  When the dark clouds part, Jack accepts the fiasco on national TV as advised by RFK. Jack’s ratings soar. And so does the push from Joe Sr. to put not only his brother in the foreign policy loop but to make him the go-to guy. This begins in tonight’s episode after President Kennedy is three months in the Oval Office. Jack finds time for a rendezvous with Judith Exner and must make time for Hoover when he confronts him with some surveillance and photos.

The brunette is out the bag and the President can’t be caught sleeping in the wrong bed or with a partner who is not Jackie. Speaking of Jackie, she too goes looking for her man but he is out and about to get down with Judy. Bobby provides cover but warns his brother at the same time that he is no longer a junior senator.

It takes more than a good wig to bring Jack to life and so far history is unfolding with a simile and a smile. Part IV of the 8-part series airs Wednesday night.

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