Critic's Pick

TV Picks: 'One Child,' 'The Red Tent,' 'The Librarians'

TV picks by @marymacTV: 'One Child' is richly textured and beautifully ambitious

"One Child": More than 70,000 Chinese children, most of them girls, have been adopted out of China since 1979. At least 70% by Americans, a fact that continues to be under-represented on television where these girls and their very unique position in history are still much more likely to be found in a documentary than a drama.

"One Child," a two-part miniseries on Sundance TV takes steps to rectify that.   

Like most things on the Sundance, “One Child” is artisanal television: Beautifully acted, concisely written,  expertly steeped in mood and message, it is passionately ambitious, occasionally to its detriment.  

British college student Mei Ashley (“Harry Potter’s” Katie Leung) is the beloved adopted daughter of an American and a British citizen. Mid-studies, she receives the first news of her biological family. A Chinese reporter contacts her with the news that Mei's biological brother has been convicted of a murder he did not commit and faces death. His mother Li (Mardy Ma) wants Mei to come to  China and help win his freedom.  

Though it veers a bit too often into an investigative examination of political corruption, "One Child" showcases the complexities of family, culture and obligation for those whose lives were so drastically changed by China's one-child policy.  Sundance TV, 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

"The Red Tent": Whether you believe it to be truth, fiction or somewhere in between, the Bible is always a bear to adapt.  The Lifetime adaptation of Anita Diamant’s bestselling novel, “The Red Tent,” has the added difficulty of making a feminist revision of portions of Genesis resonant and believable.

Fortunately, it also has Rebecca Ferguson, playing Dina, the daughter of Leah  (Minnie Driver) and Jacob (Iain Glen) and the story's main character. 

The trials faced by a headstrong young woman even in Diamant's female-centric Old Testament world rival those of Job, but Dina remains dynamic enough to anchor the ancient in the modern and keep “The Red Tent” from collapsing under the weight of the treachery, tragedy and the biblical epicness of it all.  Lifetime, 9 p.m. Sunday.

"The Librarians": After years spent saving the world from invading aliens on "Falling Skies," Noah Wyle is back saving the world from bad guys seeking magical objects in "The Librarians."

A series sequel to the three made-for-TV films beginning in 2004, "The Librarians" brings a group of fledgling heroes into the alternate universe of the Library, a sentient repository of much wisdom and many magical artifacts  that lies beneath New York's Metropolitan Public Library and overseen by the Librarian (Wyle), a fast-talking cross between Indiana Jones and the Doctor.

Having lost his former guardian (Bob Newhart), the Librarian is in need of a new one, which is where counter-terrorism agent Eve Baird (Rebecca Romjin) comes in. But she's not the only draftee -- the plot, and the series, demands a team.

Action-packed but family friendly, "The Librarians" resembles all manner of other shows, including SyFy's "Warehouse 13," but its blend of history, myth and old-fashioned (which is to say kind of clunky) action sequences makes it almost as much fun as the films.

And seeing Bob Newhart, if only in a few scenes, alone makes it worth watching. TNT, 7 p.m. Sunday.

 

An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Sundance TV as Sundance Channel.

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