Wednesday, December 07, 2005
For a handful of gifted-yet-underprivileged fourth grade students in the South Bronx, their future clearly began when substitute teacher and part-time chess master, Richard Mason, taught them to "pick up the pieces."
Delivering what I personally think is a far cry from his "Sam Malone" days on the hit TV series, Cheers, for me Ted Danson gave the absolute best performance ever in last night's premiere showing of The Knights Of The South Bronx on the A & E cable network. Playing the role of an out-of-work former member of the corporate world, Danson's character, Richard Mason, takes on the job of a substitute teacher in the Bronx to keep some of the mounting bills paid on his comfortable life in the suburbs. But soon, while trying to reach a classroom of black and Hispanic students who have apparently lived more "life" and hardships in their few years here on earth than he could ever imagine, he finds that the best way to reach them on an academic level is to introduce them to his greatest personal love -- the game of chess. And through this, he also manages to teach his students, that like chess, there are some things in this life where what you look like or where you might come from, matters less than zero. Certainly, as far as the game of chess is concerned -- all that matters is the sharpness of your mind and nothing else. As he constantly reminds his students: "No one can ever call you stupid if you can beat them at a game of chess."
If you never see another made-for-TV movie for the remainder of this year, I strongly recommend that you see this one. And needless to say, I'm already a die-hard fan of young Antonio Ortiz, who played the role of five-year-old, Dawson, the younger brother of one of Mason's students, and the very first of his protégés to win at a championship chess match -- against an opponent *twice* his age.
Clearly, guys, this movie is a must-see, so check your listings and DON'T miss it!
Have a great Wednesday, all. Peace.