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1-1: "Pilot" 2009.06.28 (recap)


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#1

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Posted Jun 27, 2009 @ 11:11 PM

Yahoo! -

After a string of misfortunes, Ray Drucker attends a local self-help class; Ray resolves to take advantage of his greatest asset in order to change his fortune.



#2

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Posted Jun 28, 2009 @ 10:05 PM

I like the concept of a protagonist we can sympathize with. Ray was tinged with whine tonight, but I think he perfectly hits on a topic that's big right now - the dying of the "American Dream." He had his shot, it didn't work out, and everyone else around him has seemed to have "made it." They've found his niche, he never has, and all he can do it keep going forward, going forward, because that's what his folks did, and their folks before them. Everyone else has it all, why doesn't he?

As long as he doesn't keep whining and bemoaning his fate, I can see myself relating to Ray and that'll keep me coming back.

And with all that, setting the series in Detroit was a stroke of genius.

#3

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Posted Jun 28, 2009 @ 10:13 PM

And with all that, setting the series in Detroit was a stroke of genius.

That, and good business sense, as Michigan has an incredible film incentive program--subsidizing something like 40% of production costs if you film your project there. I get what they're trying to do, and I'll give it my usual two or three episodes, but...I was not charmed by the pilot. I'm no prude--I watch the blood drenched vamps on True Blood hump away with delight, but I find the premise sort of ick. Maybe it's too real.

#4

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Posted Jun 28, 2009 @ 10:15 PM

This would be a cute show as a 30-minute comedy, maybe paired with Entourage. It's kind of dull as an hour show, though. Maybe it will hit its stride over the next few episodes. The writing wasn't as snappy as I expected.

#5

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Posted Jun 28, 2009 @ 10:19 PM

This would be a cute show as a 30-minute comedy

It will go to 30-minute episodes. Just the pilot was long. And I agree--30 minutes will be plenty!

#6

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Posted Jun 28, 2009 @ 10:33 PM

I like the characters. Even Ann Heche wasn't as annoying as I'd feared. Playing the resentful ex-wife is perfect for her. Thought her mother was hoot. "Get the rose bushes, too!"
Some of Thomas Jane's facial expressions were similar to Tom Hanks, I thought, although I'd never noticed it in any other roles before.
Jane Adams' Tanya is terrific.

I agree that a 30-minute episode will be a better fit.

I already can't wait for Ray to cut loose on Koontz. "Fucker."

#7

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Posted Jun 28, 2009 @ 10:45 PM

So, it's sort of the same premise as Weeds (and Breaking Bad for that matter): ordinary upward-aspiring parent falls on hard times and resorts to a disreputable profession to make ends meet.

I do think the casting is smart. Thomas Jane is a good actor, but he always has that quality of ordinariness ("everyman," though more good-looking than most) that works for him here. Given the general subject and that it's HBO, I might hope eventually for some full-frontal... but given the specifics of the subject (cf. title), that won't be possible short of a Wahlberg-size appendage, so I suppose the little glimpse of pubic hair tonight is the most we'll get.

Both women are well cast, I think, because they both have an eccentricity that's well-used here. Heche is best when there's a comic undertone of hypocrisy, as here ("I'm not shallow -- OK, I am shallow"). And Adams has intriguingly weird layers to her, which I look forward to seeing more of.

I'm always glad to recognize supporting players before they're credited: hello to Clark Gregg and Steve Hytner.

The fadeout tonight seemed more rueful and sentimental than the overall tone of the series warrants. I hope this was a matter of pilot set-up necessities, and we'll get more consistent spikiness in the future.

Edited by Rinaldo, Jun 28, 2009 @ 10:49 PM.


#8

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Posted Jun 28, 2009 @ 10:49 PM

I thought the pilot episode was just OK. After all the hyping of the show on HBO I guess I expected it to be funnier and more witty. The casting is pretty good but if this show is going to be another HBO winner it needs to develop all the characters and not just be a one trick pony. I wouldn't pay to have sex with a man just because he's well hung. From what we've seen of "Big Donnie" he doesn't seem that skilled in the sack and being critical of a woman because she's very vocal and comes multiple times is telling me he's a selfish lover.

Can Ann Heche be any more irritating? She would be a better foil for the show if she was more sympathetic.

#9

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Posted Jun 28, 2009 @ 11:07 PM

I got more of a kick looking at all the location shots in Detroit and the metro area than I did with the overall story itself.

Being familiar with all the places that they showed made it interesting enough for me to stick with it, otherwise I might have just turned it off after 5 minutes. Still, it wasn't awful and since I'm watching TB right before it anyway, I'm willing to give it a couple more shows.

#10

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Posted Jun 28, 2009 @ 11:42 PM

I liked this show more than I thought I would at first. If they continue to pair Ray and Tanya together, I'll be pleased. The ex-wife annoyed me but I hope they develop her mother's character more because I enjoyed the little bit I saw of her. Ray's kids are of no interest to me and as of right now, they seem useless. I REALLY want to see more interaction between Ray and his neighbor though lol.

Overall, I think I could get into this show but I'd have to watch a few more episodes to really be sure.

#11

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 7:34 AM

This episode was closer to 30 than 60 minutes (I think it was 42 & change).

It was good to see Jane Adams in this. As much as I like her acting, it used to disturb me how thin she was. She's put on some weight now, so I'm not distracted by her appearance anymore.

#12

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 8:16 AM

So are we supposed to believe that he's going to be a gigolo with only female clients? Sorry, but I don't believe that such a thing exists. There may be pretty boys who are "kept boys" to older women, a la William Holden's character in Sunset Boulevard, but I really don't believe that there's any significant number of women who pay man whores by the hour.

I thought he was going to be in porn, which is a more realistic career than "man who gets paid by women for sex." But I guess there isn't much porn filmed in Detroit, and he'd be too worried that one of his students (or their parents) would recognize him.

#13

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 8:33 AM

I though that too, Blakespeare. My train of thought went down two tracks...

1. That's why Ray would need a pimp. Someone to sell his product to people who might, for whatever reason, be interested. And since Tanya is a wordsmith, she can help him sell...himself.

2. Who would be interested? 24 year old fresh-out-of-college girls? Nah. Women in the 40-50 range who feel neglected, just want compansionship, or find that their husbands are...lacking in a certain department? Quite possibly, especially since, in the previews, Ray's clients seem to be in that "older" range, who might be willing to pay for a little excitement.

#14

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 9:46 AM

It is interesting how Ray is desperate enough for money that he whores himself out but he restricts himself to a much smaller and a much less finacially generous customer base by working only with women. He must not need the money very badly.

I thought Ray's scenes at school and with his children were some of the show's best moments. That scene were he was remembering how he asked Tanya to talk to his class because he hadn't finished his lesson plan was true and funny. I remember a few days back in school when I thought my teachers weren't prepared for class and that scene certainly rang true to me.

I can't say that I loved the show but I didn't fully detest it, either. I'll keep watching for now simply because there is nothing else to watch during during the summer rerun season.

Edited by LonePirate, Jun 29, 2009 @ 9:47 AM.


#15

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 10:11 AM

I expect he'll eventually get offers from guys and have to decide if there's a price he's willing to accept for that.

The Detroit setting also does open it up for some wacky cross-border hijinks in Windsor, Canada, which has the reputation of offering noticably more vice options than you can legally get in Michigan. It was actually a pretty popular place for bachelor and bachelorette parties when I was in college in Michigan because clubs there could have both alcohol and full nudity and in Michigan you had to pick one or the other. (Bonus: Ontario drinking age was 19 at the time and you could legally buy and smoke Cuban cigars there)

#16

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 11:01 AM

Didn't hate it. Didn't love it. I'm hoping, now that we've gotten the initial plot and character exposition out of the way, it can become more "in the moment" and funnier. Because right now, I'm definitely not sold. While admittedly the high-society lifestyle of a London callgirl in "Secret Diary of a Callgirl" is bound to be more entertaining right off the bat, I'm struck by how much more I really do enjoy that show. Sure, the differences are overwhelming (man vs. woman; newbie vs. professional; down on his luck father vs. light-hearted single woman). You really can't compare the shows. I'm just saying that I enjoyed "Secret Diary" right away, but will need to be sold on this one.

#17

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 11:35 AM

I liked this better than I thought I would. Like "Big Love," it's a lot less smug than I feared. Ray and Tanya seem like actual people, as do those around him (so far only his ex-wife's new husband seems like a caricature, but we're seeing him largely through Ray's eyes). We both thought that this episode ran a little short, but I can see it working well at 30 minutes.

I'm struck by how often what passes for "dark humor" ("True Blood," I'm looking at you) isn't actually funny, unless you enjoy laughing at a particular group of people. This is an example of dark humor that is much funnier--it comes from the characters and the situation, not from pointing and laughing. I'm not sure I'm crazy about this show, but I'm interested and entertained enough to keep watching.

Edited by uclagirl, Jun 29, 2009 @ 11:36 AM.


#18

braggtastic

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 12:31 PM

Would anyone here buy Pretentious, I mean Poetry Bread?

#19

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 12:59 PM

As a hs teacher/basketball coach was there any doubt I'd be watching??? That being said, can't say I loved the pilot. Just not sure if it's leaning to be more a take on the "lost American Dream" drama or a "fish out of water" type comedy. I guess like the old Days and Nights of Molly Dodd we're going for a dramedy. I'm sure once it gets its sea legs it will have a better feel.

As someone upthread mentioned, I too liked some of the school scenes (which it looks like we'll get more of next ep)....bringing in a speaker, showing a film et. al. when otherwise ill prepared is something I've done (not often) in the past, so that rang very true.

It will be interesting to see where they go with this i.e. potential male clients etc. Curious if they'll have the "guts" to do that.

#20

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 1:46 PM

I liked that the kids were "real kids" not pretty, made-for-tv kids.

#21

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 2:03 PM

Ray was tinged with whine tonight, but I think he perfectly hits on a topic that's big right now - the dying of the "American Dream."


I think my favorite part of last night's episode--the main thing that signaled to me that this show has the potential for some pretty solid depth--was the recurring use of the green light at the end of the dock across the lake from Ray's house. It showed up in the frame right next to his face as his son walked away disappointed, which I immediately picked up on as a Gatsby allusion, and when it showed up again, more prominently, in the scene where Tanya showed up at the face, it confirmed my guess. What an awesome, semi-subtle way to connect this show to the most classic work about the hollowness and unattainability of the American Dream.

Thomas Jane's accent annoyed me at parts, and it definitely needs to pick up the pace, but all in all, I think it has definite potential and look forward to seeing where it goes.

#22

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 2:41 PM

I watched this only because it came on after TB. The way it was filmed and the dialogue bored me so I left the room. It came on again for a second time and I was still by the TV so I watched it AGAIN and only then was I able to sit through it. Tanya is the best part so far. The scene when they're together in his tent was my favorite.

#23

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 3:45 PM

I think that viewing this show after watching the extremeness of True Blood is wasted viewing. There's no room for another meal when you haven't digested the present one yet. I remember feeling the same way about watching the show that followed The Sopranos. Was it Big Love?

I think Hung will find its legs after a few episodes. I hate that we have to wait two weeks to get a new one.

#24

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 4:15 PM

I think that viewing this show after watching the extremeness of True Blood is wasted viewing.

I think you've hit it exactly.

#25

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 4:29 PM

Do high school kids still wait out at concert venues for tickets? I would have thought the internet would put an end to that for everyone.

#26

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 5:22 PM

I got bored watching this. My husband fell asleep. It was really hyped and I expected a lot more, but I realize that it was only the pilot.
I am glad to hear the episodes will be shorter, because I cannot take an hour of that kind of programming, especially after I am literally freaking out-glued to the seat-screaming from True Blood.

It was a pretty good episode to set everything up for us, we have all of the background circumstances that could make very funny viewing, now I am just waiting for it to all take off!

#27

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 5:52 PM

I've been waiting for this show to come on and enjoyed it a lot. Yeah, there was a lot of exposition going on but I expected that, and like all the characters except the dermatologist, Eddie from the Ocean's films. Never was a big fan of Thomas Jane but liked him on this show. I think it would be better coming on after a different show than True Blood though. Like that people looked like normal people, and not tv show folk. Yes, kids do still stand in line for tickets, some just don't have credit cards, I know my nieces don't.

#28

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 5:55 PM

Lonepirate, women are "less financially generous"? Not with you on that. Kind of a strange observation. Seems to me that women in his target market would be financially generous enough, why not?

#29

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 9:05 PM

I liked that the kids were "real kids" not pretty, made-for-tv kids.


While I appreciate that, as well, it did bother me that his children looked nothing like him or his mother. Speaking of the latter, I had no idea that was Anne Hache until I saw it mentioned in this thread. I wasn't paying attention to the credits at the beginning. I did, however, catch the name of Dmitry Lipkin, who co-wrote this episode. He was the creator of The Riches, a fantastic show - the first season, anyway - that died far too soon. It, too, was about the difficult and strange path to the American Dream. My interest was heightened when I saw that the assistant coach was played by Gregg Henry, not only a great actor in his own right but also from The Riches, where he was incredible. So, there is good pedigree for Hung.

As for the pilot, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I sure liked it a lot more than I did the pilot of Nurse Jackie.

It will be great to see more shots of Detroit. Having spent my university years in Windsor and many a night across the river, it promises to bring back some memories.

#30

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Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 9:59 PM

Do high school kids still wait out at concert venues for tickets? I would have thought the internet would put an end to that for everyone.


Harpo's is underground enough to refuse to do business with Ticketmaster because they're a bunch of corporate fascist pig whores, so I could see them still doing box office only for a lot of shows.