Starring Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins Sunday (check listings for time) HBO
out of five finest acting that will be seen on TV or movie screens this year. McDormand, who also served as an executive producer (along with the Playtone Pictures tandem of Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman) on the series, delivers a performance that is intense but restrained, layered and complex, and filled with tiny, perfect moments in which the wounded humanity of an extraordinarily ordinary woman is laid bare. Jenkins is her equal as Henry, who somehow maintains an optimistic outlook while living out his till-deathdo-us-part commitment to the most pessimistic partner imaginable. He knows, deep down inside, that Olive loves him as much as he loves her, despite the sad fact that she won’t outwardly express it until it’s too late for him to appreciate the sentiment. Bill Murray makes an appearance in the second half of the series; his role isn’t all that large, but it has a big impact on the story, and he quickly shows that he, too, in a uniquely Bill Murray-ish kind of way, is fully up to the challenge of sparring with McDormand’s testy Olive. While it is, at its heart, a very small story about the day-to-day struggles of average people, Olive Kitteridge also explores some big issues, including the true nature of love and forgiveness and the unavoidable burdens of family history and inherited mental illness. It isn’t fun. Not for a moment. But Olive Kitteridge is, without a doubt, a TV drama of great substance. Whether you watch or not is just one of those little choices that we all have to make.