ALASKA DAILY – Review by Susan Granger

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I have never felt any empathy with two-time Oscar winning actress Hilary Swank. I’ve always found her to be humorless, abrasive, even pugnacious – both on-screen and in person.

So casting her as humorless, abrasive, pugnacious journalist Eileen Fitzgerald on Hulu and ABC-TV’s drama “Alaska Daily” really works. Yet – despite encouraging initial ratings – the series is taking a long hiatus which may dissipate whatever tension and interest it initially provoked.

Based in Manhattan, Eileen is a nationally renowned investigative reporter for ‘The Vanguard.’ When her high-profile ‘scoop’ that condemns the U.S. Secretary of Defense backfires because of an unreliable source, she’s summarily fired.

Unemployed, she begins writing a book, accusing her colleagues of being ‘woke wussies.’ But then her former boss from years ago, Stanley Cornik (Jeff Perry), offers her a job with ‘Alaska Daily,’ a struggling newspaper situated on a modest strip mall in Anchorage.

At first she refuses, but then he tempts her with a story about missing and murdered Indigenous women. Her arrogance still intact, along with a martyr complex, Eileen arrives only to be chagrined when Cornik astutely pairs her with Alaskan Native Roz Friendly (Grace Dove). Predictably imperious Eileen is condescending until she realizes how much Roz can teach her about her new environment.

A crisis occurs when a white woman passenger on a cruise ship falls overboard while filming a video. As national attention mounts, the Governor launches a huge search – while, at the same time, a Yupik woman has disappeared. Eileen and Roz come up with a provocative piece comparing the horrific discrepancy between both investigations, along with political corruption.

Writer/director Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) creates quirky colleagues who interact with Eileen – portrayed by Matt Malloy, Meredith Holzman, Pablo Castelblanco, Ami Park, and Craig Frank. While the series was not filmed in Alaska, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada serves as an authentic substitute.

As stated in the end credits, the series was inspired by The Anchorage Daily News and Pro Publica Series ‘Lawless Sexual Violence in Alaska’ by Kyle Hopkins, who serves as a producer.

Unfortunately, episode six concludes with a cliffhanger – and episode seven is not scheduled to air until Thursday, February 23. That’s the week when ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 also resume.

Will anyone still be interested? That remains to be seen, doesn’t it? Meanwhile, you can always retrieve Men in Trees and Northern Exposure, two previous series based in Alaska.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Alaska Daily is a struggling 6 – on ABC-TV and streaming on Hulu.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.