Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pilot Review: Web Therapy

Web Therapy (Showtime)
Premiered July 19 at 11pm

I remember the first time I saw “Con Air,” I felt like it could have been good, if not for Nicolas Cage’s horrendous accent. To think that one way’s of speaking could effectively ruin an entire film is quite staggering, but if every time a protagonist speaks, it’s painful on the ears, that can really detract from a viewer’s enjoyment. That’s my number one complaint about “Web Therapy,” in which Lisa Kudrow puts on a purposely ear-piercing voice to utter all of her lines, which account for probably seventy percent of the entire episode’s dialogue. While I love Kudrow on “Friends,” which I’ve been watching excessively in daily repeats on TBS for the past week or so, but I feel like she tends to exaggerate her voice and her zaniness in any other projects to be funnier. I felt the same way about the short-lived but critically-appreciated “The Comeback,” which I couldn’t stand for similar reasons. Kudrow is playing a similar character here, someone completely not self-aware and almost desperate to insert herself into situations and conversations where she is not wanted. This show is adapted and edited from Kudrow’s popular 2008 web series, and I think that a full half-hour runtime is a bit too much, since, like Kudrow’s Fiona espouses, sometimes three minutes really is better and more effective than a full session. I was unimpressed with the material given to both Victor Garber and Tim Bagley (Harold Krenshaw from “Monk”), and to waste both of those actors is an equally lamentable and commendable (in a negative sense) thing. This show is an interesting idea, but from this start, it’s flunking pretty badly. It’s not funny, it’s excessively awkward to no effect, and it’s very much not appealing.

How will it work as a series? Despite this off-putting start, I’m somewhat intrigued by the flurry of guest stars who will appear in the future on this show, and I’m a little bit curious what will become of her current patients. That said, I assume future episodes will be just as uncomfortable and counterproductive as this one.
How long will it last? The web series ran for 48 short episodes, and the season order from Showtime is for ten episodes. I imagine that this show should catch on in popularity just like it did on the web, and while a second televised season may not be in the cards, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was.

Pilot grade: D-

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