Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pilot Review: Hung

Hung (HBO)
Premiered June 28 at 10pm

HBO’s latest effort, which when it next airs will be sandwiched in between “True Blood” and “Entourage,” is a familiar kind of dramatic comedy which focuses on one man desperately seeking a life change by entering a new, questionable profession. Ray Drecker isn’t good at anything, and his entrepreneurship classes lead him to realize that he should try prostitution. It’s not a terribly unfamiliar concept, and that’s both positive and negative for this series. It doesn’t feel original, but it also manages to keep afloat without being too stale. Part of the credit is due to the sharp writing and snappy dialogue which feeds the entertaining banter between the characters. The rest of the praise should be reserved for star Thomas Jane, who carries the show on his shoulders. He’s charming, but not too charming, and his delivery of all of his often-sarcastic lines is right on track. The show doesn’t appear to have much of an ensemble, featuring Ray’s family in small doses, the only real bright spot of which is Anne Heche’s crazy ex-wife rant. Jane Adams is also onboard as a nutty, overly sexual poet who fashions herself as Ray’s pimp. It’s terribly unclear what this show will be like since the 45-minute pilot doesn’t really explain or develop much, and as a result, a viewing of the second episode (airing July 12) seems necessary. There isn’t much more to say – I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. I may be fresh out of words after writing an extremely lengthy review of “Virtuality” (which you should watch), but I just don’t have too many opinions on this series. What did you think?

How will it work as a series? As I’ve mentioned, it’s hard to tell. I think it’s just the right kind of show for HBO, and in between the uber-weird fantastical “True Blood” and the buddy lite “Entourage,” it will find a nice home and a proper groove. It won’t necessarily be totally inventive, but that may not be a problem. Ray’s not too well-rounded, maybe this show doesn’t have to be either.
How long will it last? HBO doesn’t ax shows before their first seasons are completed, and most cable shows these days get renewals within days of their premieres. I imagine “Hung,” which debuted to pretty positive reviews, should get renewed after a week or two for a second season, but I’m not sure there will be much additional ground to cover. That’s a long way off, of course, but I think this show has two seasons in it. HBO’s last new comedy – “Flight of the Conchords” – got cancelled after two seasons; maybe it will become a trend. But again, that’s looking too far ahead. Let’s see how episode two is.

B-

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