Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pilot Review: Masters of Sex

Masters of Sex (Showtime)
Premiered September 29 at 10pm

Showtime’s new series “Ray Donovan” has already come to an end for the season, and it’s refreshing to see an equally competent show takes its place in the Sunday 10pm slot. “Masters of Sex” was promoted as a boundary-pushing, scandalous show set in TV’s new favorite decade, the 1960s. While that’s true, and there is a lot of nudity showcased, this show is about much more than that. Its main actors are quite committed to their roles, and it’s great to see both of them on TV. Michael Sheen will be familiar to American audiences for his portrayal of Tony Blair in “The Queen,” and here he adopts an American accent to play the buttoned-up doctor with an unexpected side interest. Lizzy Caplan, whose TV appearances include “True Blood,” “Party Down,” and “New Girl,” is terrific as his determined associate, who does an excellent job of adapting to her new job without balking at her responsibilities. Their business relationship is superb but their personal relationship could use some work, and that’s what’s going to make their dynamic so interesting, especially after William not so subtly suggested that they have sex with each other to help with the research. I’m less convinced about Nicholas D’Agosto’s Dr. Ethan Haas, who seems more distracting – and destructive – than anything else. But this show as a whole really does appeal, with an authentic feel and a truly intriguing storyline. Once again, Showtime manages to impress with a compelling and engaging series that uses great actors to their full potential.

How will it work as a series? This first episode felt like a movie in itself, which is exactly what shows on HBO and Showtime are supposed to feel like when they’re really good. What happens next is sure to be filled with passion and intimacy, and that should make this show very worthwhile to watch.
How long will it last? Reviews for the pilot were very strong, and Showtime has renewed given most of its recent series long, healthy lives. Its premiere numbers weren’t all that impressive, but I think this is a bold enough show that should be kept alive by the positive reception it’s received from critics, with a second season renewal coming sometime down the road.

Pilot grade: B+

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