Sunday, August 16, 2015

TV: One finds its way, the other seeks a Razzie

Attempting to play a man on Revenge, Barry Sloane was an utter failure.  On The Whispers, he can't even manage realistically portraying a human.


The balding 34-year-old manages to sink every episode of ABC's summer series about an alien, Drill, who moves via electricity and attempts to possess children.

On the most recent episode, Wes (Sloane) and Claire (Jill Clayburgh's daughter Lily Rabe) oversaw a plan to quarantine Drill by cutting off the power grids throughout DC -- are you following any of this? -- but Drill ends up in a school with a boy named Nicholas that he's arranged to be at the school -- which would appear to indicate that Drill understood the plan before it was set in motion or that really bad writers expect viewers to believe anything.

Drill has possessed other children -- including Minx, Wes's son with Lena (Kristen Connolly) and Claire's son Henry.

As the president of the United States orders various power grids to be shut down, Henry and his father Sean (Milo Ventimiglia) are in a car accident and Sean spends the bulk of the episode trying to rescue his son while Minx and Lena are attempting to leave the area via a cruise ship with the hope that being on the ocean -- away from power lines -- will keep Minx safe.

Drill wants Minx especially, apparently.

So all of this is done, plunging DC into a blackout, to save those children and the country, possibly the world.

It's hard to follow  badly written storylines when they also poorly acted.

Lily Rabe and Barry Sloane chew the scenery as they demand the White House turn the power back on to save the boy Nicholas -- and allow Drill to escape.

One bad acting choice after another is executed including Sloane's soft to loud threat to Drill.

The only thing that may distract from the horrible acting is Rabe herself.

Her features are erratic at best and she resembles the Willy Wooly child's toy ("Draw whiskers, hair and eyebrows with this magic wand").

When Rabe's not around, there's nothing to distract from Barry Sloane's hideous acting.

It's a real shame because Milo is delivering an outstanding performance -- as he did previously on Heroes, the first season of Chosen and even in the otherwise hideous film That's My Boy.  Had Milo been cast in the lead role, the show might have added up to something.

Julie Klausner's Difficult People has.

It's become Hulu's first series worth watching.

We'd love to tell you Hulu developed it but the reality is that the show was developed for the USA network which balked at the last minute and then got shopped to Hulu.

At least the online streamer had the good sense to grab it.

Klausner's created a show about Julie Kessler (the role she plays) and her best friend Billy Epstein (Billy Eichner).  The two thirty-somethings are struggling to break through in the world of comedy at a time when, as they note, everyone they started out with has either made it already or given up comedy and started a family.

Marilyn Kessler (Andrea Martin) worries whether or not her daughter may have what it takes to make it (she explains to Billy that she finds Julie funny but none of her friends do).  Julie's boyfriend Arthur (Jams Urbaniak) has no doubts about Julie's ability but just doesn't want her embarrassing him around his PBS boss Gaby.  Billy waits tables at a cafe Denise (Gabourey Sidbe) and Nate (Derrick Baskin) own.  It's a strong cast which includes he-thinks-he's-a-twink Matthew (Cole Escola) who can't stop rubbing in how much younger than Billy he is.

Julie tends to tick people off with Tweets (such as "I can't wait until Blue Ivy is old enough for R Kelly to piss on her") while Billy wrote something that offended Chelsea Handler so much that she gets him bounced from a talk show.  Billy comes close to nailing a role in a remake of the 80s non-classic Vice Versa but he runs over David Byrne on the way to the audition and gets hauled away by the police.

If all the show did was finally find a way to successfully utilize Andrea Martin, that would be enough to hail it as a success.

The SCTV alumni should have spent the last decades starring in one hilarious sitcom after another.

But that didn't happen and no one seems to have been willing to give her the space she needed to create the first-rate comedy that first made her a star.

Until now.

Whether debating the merits of plastic surgery or convinced that she knows how to hypnotize people, Martin's off on the sort of high energy tangent that hasn't been seen since Bette Midler's 80s film comeback.

And, again, that alone makes the show worth watching.

But it's well written and well acted throughout and, as difficult as Julie and Billy are, you really do see them as real people and, more importantly, real people that you care about.

You care nothing for Barry Sloane's Wes.  In fact, you only watch to see how much of a train wreck Sloane can create.

He delivered a Razzie worthy performance last week as he went over the top repeatedly culminating with the final scene where he arrives home to find his daughter Minx on the front porch (staring at a street lamp -- remember, alien Drill travels via power lines).  When she won't respond to him, he runs into the house where he finds his wife Lena dead.

He cradles her, he whimpers, he moans, he rocks her, he begins screaming.

For fans of bad acting, Sloane delivers nirvana.

For those attempting to put some faith in the basic storyline, it's a freak show.

Repeating, Minx is on the front porch.

She can presumably hear all of this.

She's also, remember, staring at the lamp.

A great deal of care is taken to turn Difficult People into a first-rate sitcom.  No care is taken with The Whispers which is why each week sees less and less viewers tuning in.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }