Air Date: Sunday, April 12, 2015, 8pm ET/PT on Lifetime
As the conclusion to V.C. Andrew’s Dollanganger series that began with Flowers in the Attic (Flowers), Lifetime presents the final installment, Seeds of Yesterday (Seeds). Although there technically may not be any incest or children locked in attics in Seeds, this television movie has as much juicy drama as all three of its previous stories. If There Be Thorns (Thorns), the third installment, provided just a hint of the level of destruction Bart Sheffield, Jr.—portrayed initially by Mason Cook, and later by James Maslow as an adult—inflicts upon those around him. The core of the story in Seeds continues to focus on the secrets and lies set off in Thorns, and let me tell you, there are enough to fill a whole season of Jerry Springer!
Back to the Beginning
Even though there is a significant jump in time between Thorns and Seeds, the transition isn’t as bad as I imagined it would be. Seeds take measures to follow the source materially faithfully, if not in the spirit of Andrews’ style of storytelling.
The beginning of Seeds is one of the most awkward family reunions I can recall seeing on television. After receiving a hefty allowance from the inheritance left to him by his grandmother Corrine (Heather Graham), Bart invests in rebuilding Foxworth Hall—the family home that partially burned down in Petals on the Wind (Petals)—to its former glory. Maslow is a great casting choice as the adult Bart, whose charismatic smile and good looks make him, upon first impression, appear trustworthy, adding the necessary complexity to Maslow’s portrayal of Bart. Many of Seeds’ significant plot points are melodrama at its finest; it’s a good thing the pairing of the actors to their respective characters is impeccable or else Seeds would be a total disaster.
Speaking of disaster, the completion of Foxworth Hall’s renovation spurs Bart to invite his whole family for a visit. Bart, despite being aware of the incestual relationship between his parents, is unaware of the circumstances leading up to it. He has no idea Corrine locked Chris (Jason Lewis) and Cathy (Rachael Carpani) in the attic when they were children. Seeds also includes siblings Cindy (Sammi Hanratty), who is one major wild child and Jory (Anthony Konechny), who is now a successful dancer married to childhood sweetheart Melodie (Leah Gibson).
I like Shawn Ku’s direction of the beginning of the movie, showing the distinctive sides of Bart’s personality, beginning with the outward appearance of success with all his money and sports cars, to Bart’s overzealous religious nature that shows he still harbors a deep rooted hatred for his family.
Once again, the focus remains steady on how Bart’s actions in Seeds, much like his role in Thorns, impact everyone.
My Brother’s Keeper, Sort of
When tragedy befalls Jory during a private dance performance at Foxworth Hall, he is left in a vulnerable position that paves the way for Bart to take advantage of the situation. Here’s what bothers me—I understand Bart’s disdain for Jory stems from jealous and insecurity, but it is way too extreme. Also, Jory’s blind faith in his brother makes the misfortune that ties him to Bart even worse.
Then, there’s Cindy and the rest of the Dollangangers, who I feel are psychologically being held hostage. Even though Bart has the financial means to care for Jory, it’s Bart’s homicidal tendencies that should be the cause for everybody’s concern, or at least they would be for me. Nope, they all stay behind in Foxworth Hall tending to Jory, including Melodie, who is pregnant and an emotional wreck.
Aside from Jory’s predicament, Cindy is in no better a situation as it becomes clear she seeks self-worth through her various sexual affairs. Bart, who tried to drown Cindy as a child, is attracted to her despite his strong misogynistic feelings. It’s completely twisted, and one of the major story lines I think needed to be filled in with more context rather than Bart’s sexual prowess in breaking the seventh commandment.
Last Stop Crazy Town
In the culminating moments of Seeds, Bart reaches a breaking point when all his best laid plans prove unsatisfying to him. The scenes between Maslow and Carpani took me by surprise because their dynamic and chemistry work perfectly. Cathy’s final attempts to save Bart lead to a surprising turn of events, events that are so quickly put together, I had a hard time adjusting to Bart’s fate.
Darren Stein, who wrote the teleplay, does an excellent job of hitting the major points of the book in his translation to the screen; however, due to the complex overlapping of story lines in the source material, he seems to rush the ending.
It has been an exciting ride watching how the Dollanganger family co-existed and survived all the tragedies that came their way in the various adaptations of V.C. Andrews’ books. I know the taboo surrounding the subject of incest tends to overshadow the more gothic nature of the books, but the movies provide a vantage point the books seem to avoid. Stein truly crafts Bart into a more dynamic character that goes beyond villainy. There is a sense of humanity to the madmen in the Dollanganger family. We see this in Flowers with the way Corrine’s mother (Ellen Burstyn) is seen, not just as a cruel woman but one with her own personal demons as well.
Overall, Seeds has some issues I couldn’t get past; in particular, the way Cindy and Bart’s relationship develops. Even though there are several implied hints about Bart’s feelings for Cindy, love isn’t one of them. All I see is a man lusting over a woman whom he tried to kill when they were young. Then again, this is Andrews’ novel, and I shouldn’t be surprised. That’s why script and quality of actors are invaluable in stories that are taboo. Maslow plays a convincing Bart, and Lewis and Carpani look great no matter how much makeup they wear to appear old enough to be grandparents.
The production is lavish at points, and the way the movie stays true to its period in time is a nice flashback to the 80s. Aside from the minor flaws, Seeds is a guilty pleasure worth watching that provides enough drama to keep you glued to the screen.
Tune in to Seeds of Yesterday, April 12 at 8pm ET/PT, only on Lifetime. Find out more about the movie at its official website, http://www.mylifetime.com/movies/seeds-of-yesterday, to learn more about the cast, view photos, and watch clips.
Like Seeds of Yesterday on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lifetime.
Photo credit: ©2015 A&E Television Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved
© 2015, Connie Allen. All rights reserved.
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