Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pilot Review: Doll and Em

Doll and Em (HBO)
Premiered March 19 at 10pm

HBO does love its imported British comedies. This one follows “Life’s Too Short” as a mockumentary series starring a fictionalized version of a real-life British actor of mediocre fame. Warwick Davis is out, and instead we get the lovely Emily Mortimer, who currently stars in another HBO show returning this summer, “The Newsroom,” and has also appear in such films as “Match Point” and “Harry Brown.” Like any good British show of this sort, a sidekick is needed, and that’s Dolly “Doll” Wells, a less-known British actress who is Em’s best friend and ends up working as her live-in assistant. Predictably, much awkwardness and discomfort ensues. Sky Living is airing the show one episode at a time, showing the season finale this coming Tuesday, while HBO will air two episodes per week. Getting a double-dose of this half-hour effort is enjoyable, and it permits complete immersion into a show that feels perfectly familiar and about as enjoyable as “Life’s Too Short,” “Hello Ladies,” and “Family Tree.” Em doesn’t do anything to make herself terribly likeable, while makes her a more worthwhile and interesting character, whereas Doll is more blatantly obnoxious and antagonistic. The hot tub scene in the second episode in which Em didn’t take Doll’s hint about leaving to let her be alone with Jonathan Cake’s Buddy showcased the unstable nature of their dynamic, and Doll’s befriending of Susan Sarandon after she made her son cry was equally enlightening. This show may not be the best thing that’s ever been created, but it will certainly be fun while it lasts.

How will it work as a series? Ordering just six episodes means that there isn’t much that needs to be done in terms of longevity. These first two episodes have already introduced some unexpected aspects into Doll and Em’s friendship while framing their relationship in understandable terms, and I think that the remaining four installments should prove plenty entertaining.
How long will it last? I doubt much will come of this show, mainly because it’s not entirely memorable despite being perfectly pleasant and creative. Six episodes is probably a good life span, especially considering the similar “Life’s Too Short” didn’t last long even in its native country. I think one season is likely for this show.

Pilot grade: B+

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