Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Pilot Review: Here and Now

Here and Now (HBO)
Premiered February 11 at 9pm

There are so many shows on so many networks these days bringing new creative forces behind and in front of the camera to prominence and, among those, there are repeat offenders who have new series greenlit which are certainly worth watching. Alan Ball is one such individual who created two of HBO’s longest-running and most successful hits. The first, “Six Feet Under,” is easily the most powerful drama that has aired on television, while the second, “True Blood,” was a more stylized genre piece that went a bit off the rails a few seasons into its runs but remained decidedly unique the whole time. In addition to the Oscar he wrote for penning my favorite film, “American Beauty,” Ball also directed “Towelhead” and the TV movie “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” Some prior TV writing aside, that’s all Ball has done, and therefore his return to television is a very notable event. Unfortunately, the result is pretty lackluster. This show captures the weirdest and most random elements of Ball’s past TV shows, particularly the latter, and infuses them into something that’s messy, slow, and unappealing. Leading the way are Holly Hunter and Tim Robbins, both capable performers and past Oscar winners inserted into irritating roles, and the only other face I recognized was that of Peter Macdissi, a memorable player in “Six Feet Under” who also happens to be Ball’s partner. I couldn’t really tell you what this show is about, but I know that I surely don’t want to experience any more of it, much as I would have loved to see Ball back at work on television.

How will it work as a series? I was already turned off from this mega-family with lots of conflicting liberalism before the 11:11 thing went into dominant mode towards the end of the episode. By trying to make each of the siblings and parents so diverse and individualized, there’s nothing keeping this show together other than their miserable interactions.
How long will it last? It’s hard to find very positive reviews of this show, since even those that are more optimistic still indicate that it’s not a winner. HBO has many hits and therefore it’s not looking for midrange series that aren’t going to draw in viewers or critics, especially not dramas. I think this one is going to finish out its initial run and then end up the opposite of the here and now.

Pilot grade: C

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