Monday, June 12, 2017

Pilot Review: I’m Dying Up Here

I’m Dying Up Here (Showtime)
Premiered June 4 at 10pm

It’s a good bet that most actors who end up starring in comedies have roots somewhere in standup. The history of the standup scene is also ripe to be dramatized, and that’s the obvious reason that this show got picked up by a network known for edgy comedy programming. I wouldn’t exactly call this show a comedy since it’s mired in a melancholy presentation of how unfulfilling life spent living in a closet trying to slowly climb an increasingly long ladder up to success. I’m not usually all that fond of shows set in the 1970s since they’re often inundated with a drugged-out vibe and don’t usually move all that quickly. That’s certainly true here, though I can see the appeal. The most enticing part of it is the fact that it features some rising talent that may well rocket to stardom with these great starring roles. The most notable face is that of Ari Graynor, who has been a memorable part in the ensemble of a few films and short-lived TV shows, and rivals Rachel Brosnahan for best monologue of the year in a series debt. I remember Michael Angarano from “Will and Grace” and Clark Duke from “The Office,” and they seem like a fun pair transplanted to Los Angeles from Boston to a whole that’s way over their heads. The one who’s really a fish out of water is RJ Cyler, one of my favorite parts of “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” and it seems like he’ll play a fun part. I’m not sure that this show’s energy level is high enough for me, but I’m willing to give it another shot to see if it livens up a bit.

How will it work as a series? There’s a big cast, led of course by Oscar winner Melissa Leo, and so that’s sure to provide more than enough fodder for dramatic exploration of comedy. It also means that characters might be rarely featured and underdeveloped, but this show seems to have a decent handle on what it wants to be.
How long will it last? I can’t find much ratings data for the pilot episode (or the second, which has already aired), but it does appear that the reviews are pretty solid if not entirely enthusiastic. This could go either way, since Showtime hasn’t embraced all of its programming recently, and my bet is that this one won’t last past this season.

Pilot grade: B-

No comments: