What’s more depressing than a show about a man who turns to prostitution to make ends meet? A show about an incompetent male prostitute.
We’ve had our share of dreary ("The Cleaner") and depressing ("NYC Prep") shows this summer but "Hung," which premieres this Sunday at 10 p.m. on HBO, might win the prize for most gloomy new series, especially because it purports to be a comedy.
Thomas Jane stars as Ray Drecker, as a divorced high school teacher and basketball coach. His ex-wife Jessica (Anne Heche, to me always better in small doses) is remarried to a wealthy dentist (Eddie Jemison). And when his house burns down, his daughter Darby (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) and his son Damon (Charlie Saxton) decide they want to go back to living with their mom. (Let me pause here and say I'm not sure what the show was going for with the casting of Ray's kids. They definitely don't look like they could be related to either parent.)
So there Ray sits, living in a tent behind his house with an obnoxious neighbor, moody teenagers who have rejected him and no money. Ray attends a self-help class where he comes to the conclusion that his biggest asset is, as the title suggests, the fact that he’s well-endowed. Former one-night-stand Tanya (Jane Adams) decides that she will be his pimp. But they're both really inept at selling Ray for money. And I found their incompetence incredibly frustrating to watch (which I know is an odd reaction, but I'm thinking you might feel the same way after you've watched a couple of episodes). I think some of the humor was supposed to come from their foibles in this world of prostitution but it didn't work for me. Both Ray and Tanya come across as losers and not necessarily lovable ones.
Comparisons to "Weeds" and "Breaking Bad" are inevitable. Like those two series, "Hung" focuses on a middle class person who turns to a life a crime. But so far, "Hung" doesn't have the wit of "Weeds" (at least the wit "Weeds" had in the early seasons) or the palpable pathos of "Breaking Bad." Right now the show is mildly entertaining, but I'm definitely not hooked. Three stars.
After you watch Sunday's premiere, let me know what you think?
Quotes of the Week
"A relationship based on love is worth fighting for, isn’t it?" Lieutenant Provenza on "The Closer." I love an in love Provenza. How about you?
"I don’t think I would take boy advice from her. She’s divorced and doesn’t have a boyfriend." Taylor talking about her mom on "NYC Prep."
"There’s absolutely no dating during finals training. We catch you with a boy and you’re out." Coach Walsh to Emily on "Make It or Break It." How long until Emily starts dating the cute boy at the pizza shop, do you think?
"No one should be able to do what she can do on four inches of wood." Kim about Lauren on the balance beam on "Make It or Break It." I don’t think that line was supposed to be funny but I couldn’t stop laughing.
"I’ve had to work extremely hard at finding my way back to my humanity." Bill to Jessica on "True Blood."
"Amy if I help you out. You’ll never learn to do this on your own. I’ll just be a teenage mother enabler." Anne to Amy on the season premiere of "The Secret Live of the American Teenager."
Ask TV Gal
I loved The Unusuals and am so sad that it never really caught on. Is there any chance we will be able to buy the series on DVD? Thanks, Jenny.
I too am disappointed that we won’t be seeing a second season of "The Unusuals." I checked and found out that the series will be coming out on DVD, but there’s no release date yet. I’ll keep you posted.
That’s all for today. It has been a difficult week of losses. We will always remember Ed McMahon’s hearty laugh, Farrah Fawcett’s dazzling smile, and Michael Jackson’s brilliant dance moves. Their impact on the world of entertainment will not only be remembered as a culture but also individually on a much more personal level (I vividly remember, as I’m sure many of you do, seeing "The Thriller" video for the first time). This week has made me appreciate even more the power of entertainment and its ability to bring us all together in both joy and sorrow. Check out Korbi's column for a complete list of televised tributes.
I won’t have a column next Monday and Wednesday. I’ll be on vacation with husband’s family in a place that technology not only forgot, but a place technology is not allowed (I think I can handle it, we’ll see), but I will be back on Friday, July 3 to catch up on familiar faces, quotes of the week, thoughts on "True Blood," "Burn Notice" and more. Have a question? Seen a familiar face? Want to nominate quote of the week? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great week. Talk to you next Friday.
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