Friday, December 05, 2014

Come Again

I've been watching HBO's The Comeback, created by TV writer Michael Patrick King and star Lisa Kudrow.  The first season was nine years ago, and it got some critical approval but not much of an audience.  It's back now for eight more episodes, and at present is halfway through the season.

The concept of the show in the first season centered on an untalented actress, Valerie Cherish (played by Kudrow, of course), who some years ago starred in a minor sitcom hit I'm It.  Since then she's been on the long slide to obscurity, but desperately wants to maintain her celebrity.  So she stars in a reality show where the cameras follow her around as she makes a comeback in a supporting role in a new sitcom, Room And Bored.  The basic plot of the season is everything goes wrong, and she's regularly embarrassed at every turn.

This new season is an update of the original more than a continuation.  Almost a decade later and Valerie Cherish has mostly done college films since Room And Bored was one and out.  But there has been a flowering of reality shows, so she's back to having her life taped--though this time by a hapless college crew. (She had a shot at Real Wives Of Beverly Hills but walked off in a huff.)

Then the producer of her last sitcom, who's been through rehab a couple times, sets up a show at HBO based on his miserable experience with Cherish.  She walks into the channel demanding they cease and desist, but instead gets cast in the production.  And she also gets an upgrade of the documentary crew to create footage for web content.

The new season features most of the old cast--Robert Michael Morris as Mickey, her hairdresser, Laura Silverman as the documentarian who follows her around and Damian Young as her husband, not in show biz and not thrilled to be on camera.  Best of all, they have Lance Barber as Paulie G, originally the producer of Room And Bored.  He was amazing in the first season.  He didn't have that many lines, but he was an ominous presence in the background who hated Valerie and made her life miserable.

He was the most memorable thing about the show originally, though this season he's calmed down a bit.  Rehab can do that to you, I suppose.  But he's still rude and barely tolerates Valerie, and the main question is when will things explode.

I understand what King and Kudrow are going for, and I think they achieve it.  The acting and writing and even the concept are as good as the first season, but the question becomes is it worth it?  Almost all the comedy is based on humiliating Valerie Cherish.  She's a far from perfect person, but just beating up on her makes one cringe more than laugh.  I had the same problem with the first season.

So I guess if you liked it originally, you'll like it again.  But you better enjoy feeling uncomfortable.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the beating up on Valerie seems more humiliating to the ones (and the types they represent)beating her up.

4:03 AM, December 05, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

The show mocks the entire process, but at the center is Valerie, smiling through each new humiliation as if it's just what she expected.

10:22 AM, December 05, 2014  

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