“It’s our execution which makes it completely different,” says ‘Underground’s’ Aldis Hodge

With contemporary hits weaved in by John Legend, there is music from Kanye West, The Weeknd and Raphael Saadiq.

Underground, Season 1, Episode 105

Beautifully scripted, superbly shot, and sumptuously scored, WGN America’s new series “Underground” is a slave narrative with a delightful twist.

Directed by Anthony Hemingway (“Red Tails“), the 10-episode hour-long series tells the story of a group of slaves who decide they want to be free.

“It’s set in 1857 and is about the Underground Railroad, but it’s our execution which makes it completely different,” shares star Aldis Hodge who plays Noah, a field slave, who orchestrates the escape.Underground, Season 1, Episode 102

Also starring Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Amirah Vann, Theodus Crane, Adina Porter; Alano Miller as Cato, the plantation’s overseer, it’s a powerful, poignant, series with characters worth caring about.

“These are people who see a system that is wrong and are hell-bent on changing it,” says Misha Green (“Sons of Anarchy”) who created the series along with Joe Pokaski (“Heroes”).

Central to the series success are all around riveting performances, especially from Noah (Hodge), the ringleader who has meticulously hatched a detailed and daring escape plan. Assembling a stealth-like team, he includes slaves with various skill-sets. From Jurnee Smollett-Bell, who as the house slave, Rosalee, is able to procure the necessary documents needed from the master’s study to her brother Sam (Johnny Ray Gill), a skilled carpenter who can build the tools needed. Each escapee serves a precise purpose.Underground, Season 1, Episode 105

With contemporary hits weaved in by John Legend, who also serves as an executive producer, there is music from Kanye West, The Weeknd and Raphael Saadiq.  Although it may be a tad unsettling at first seeing a slave dash across a field as West’s “Black Skinhead” churns out, it’s a combination that works.

The best escapes are typically found in war movies and part of what gives this series an edge is the suspense Hemingway creates. He’s found a clever way to tap the horrors of slavery life and create a suspenseful thriller.  The series is so much fun to watch as it’s an authentic thriller, which deftly mixes action, romance, drama, deceit and intrigue.

“It is an amazing thrill ride. The series is a chase from beginning to finish,” adds Hodge.

Underground, Season 1, Episode 106

Vivid, grueling and painful, there’s a painstaking exactness to it that is both laudable and exhausting to watch. The brutality may be very hard for viewers to watch, but those disturbing scenes are necessary to aptly portray its gritty realism.

Pictured: (top) Alano Miller, Renwick-Scott, Theodus Crane; (middle) Aldis Hodge as Noah and Alano Miller  as Cato; (bottom) Alano Miller, Aldis Hodge, Mykelti Williamson;  Renwick Scott, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge

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