Posts tagged with “HBO”

REVIEW: ‘Hung’

Hung
Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Stars: Thomas Jane, Jane Adams and Anne Heche

The Big Idea: Jane is Ray Decker, a Detroit high school basketball coach and former star athlete whose wife (his high school sweetheart – the homecoming queen/cheerleader) has left him for a nerdy (but rich) former classmate. Ray’s job doesn’t pay him enough to afford insurance on his house and his children – teen twins – have to move out of said house when it catches fire and Ray can’t afford to repair it. The former BMOC’s last hope in this economy is a self-help seminar that makes him realize he’s got one asset: He was blessed in the family jewels department. He’s well-hung for success in the bedroom. He’s got the perfect tool for the job. Okay, bad puns aside, he’s going to become a male prostitute.

To Watch or Not to Watch: Hey, if Disney can make a hooker movie that becomes one of the most beloved chick flicks of all time (Pretty Woman, of course), why can’t HBO make a good half-hour comedy about a male hooker? Not that Hung is a laugh-out-loud kinda comedy. It’s more in the dramedy genre, for sure, as comical touches mark Ray’s desperate attempt to create the life that he once thought would come easily to him.

Jane is perfect as the still attractive, but downtrodden Ray, a role that could do for him what Breaking Bad has done for Bryan Cranston and what The Shield did for Michael Chiklis, namely giving under-the-radar actors signature roles that allow them to finally showcase how talented they are. Deep Blue Sea and The Punisher actor Jane’s Ray is handsome and endearing enough to make you believe he was once the star of his high school with a promising pro baseball career ahead of him, but not so attractive and charming that you don’t buy the mid-life crisis he’s landed in. Ray’s a bit of a dunce sometimes, and let’s just say his first forays into gigolo-ing don’t show him to be a smooth ladies man.

Heche, at least in the first four episodes provided for review, is little more than shrewish and annoying as Ray’s ex-wife Jessica, but Jane Adams (Niles’ wife Mel on Frasier) is another performer who could finally break out with her role in Hung. Adams is Tanya, a struggling poet who has sampled Ray’s goods and, as his pimp, comes up with the plan to market him as a “happiness consultant” to women.

Bottom line: I was hooked from the pilot, though if you’re really set on the show delivering humor, it is subtle. Stick with Hung for a couple of episodes though … it’s not only timely (especially, unfortunately, with its Detroit setting), it’s also a pretty weird concept that proves to be surprisingly sweet.

TV Screener Tidbit: The show was created by husband-and-wife team Dmitry Lipkin and Colette Burson. The premiere episode, shot on location in Detroit, was directed by Oscar-winning Sideways screenplay writer (and Hung executive producer) Alexander Payne. Payne also received an Oscar nomination for his script for the 1999 dramedy Election, featuring Matthew Broderick‘s hapless high school teacher character, who has a lot in common with Thomas Jane’s Ray Decker.

Hung premieres tonight, June 28, at 10PM ET on HBO

Channel Surfing – June 8

All the tube news that’s fit to surf …

Weeds premieres its fifth season tonight (10PM ET, Showtime). Check out my interview with Emmy nominee Elizabeth Perkins (also a star of one of my all-time fave movies, About Last Night) at AOL TV.

– Here’s hoping Jimmy Fallon really can pull off a Saved by the Bell reunion tonight. And PS – So happy Zach Morris clipped the ‘do.

– Is Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) alive on Lost? Okay, so then why’s he playing foosball in that new ABC promo? EW.com’s Michael Ausiello has the surprising answer. PS – IGN TV thinks the secret show is Flash Forward.

– More from Ausiello: There may be a Cagney & Lacey reunion on Burn Notice next year.

– Think you’ve got advertising skills? Put ’em to use pimping – ha – HBO’s new series Hung, about a middle-aged guy (Thomas Jane) who becomes a gigolo, and you might win $10,000.

– Cougars are all the rage on network TV, especially now that Erica Kane‘s become one.

Go and Prison Break star William Fichtner will guest star on the upcoming sixth season of Entourage, which premieres on HBO on July 12.

Kathy Bates, Tim Curry and Colm Meaney will star in Sci Fi’s Alice in Wonderland miniseries.

– Uncle Jesse – the Full House one, not the Dukes of Hazzard one – is itching to make a big-screen version of his cheesy, but endearing sitcom, sans Olsen twins and with, oddly, James Franco taking over his role.

Once and Again and My So-Called Life producer Marshall Herskovitz has a plan to radically change up the way TV pilots are sold. He ain’t tellin’ what it is, though.

Channel Surfing – May 27

All the tube news that’s fit to surf …

– Did AT&T help Kris Allen win American Idol? Allegedly so.

– Everyone loves a good case of schadenfreude, but it makes you wonder just how insufferable Jon and Kate Gosselin are that no one seems to be coming to their defense these days, don’t it? BTW, nearly 10 million viewers watched the season five premiere of Jon & Kate Plus 8 … again, schadenfreude. I wonder how far that number will drop for next week’s new episode, especially since the premiere made it pretty clear that the Gosselins can barely stand to sit next to each other on a couch.

– As the New York Daily News points out, the Gosselins are hardly the only exploiting their children for reality TV dollars.

Jessica Simpson just isn’t going to go away, and TV may be helping that.

– Whoa … Is Susan Boyle really a potty mouth?

– If you doubt The Big O’s influence, tune in Thursday night for CNBC’s The Oprah Effect (9PM ET), a special that delves into how just a mention on her show can mean the difference between a business thriving and filing for bankruptcy.

– Hoo-ah! Al Pacino‘s headed to the tube, playing suicide doc Jack Kevorkian in an upcoming HBO movie.

24, which begins production on season eight today (yay!), has added another pair of new cast members, including Kissing Jessica Stein star (and girlfriend of Mad Men star Jon Hamm) Jennifer Westfeldt.

– And, there’s plenty of serious TV business to talk about today, but for some comic relief, and just plain old fun summer TV watchin’, you can’t beat tonight’s return of Wipeout (ABC, 8PM ET) and The Big Red Balls.

Channel Surfing – May 19

All the tube news that’s fit to surf …

Law & Order will go for a 20th season on NBC, tying it with classic CBS western Gunsmoke as the longest-running primetime drama.

– Here’s a sneak peek at Fox’s new fall shows, including the awesome Human Target and The Cleveland Show.

The View co-host Sherri Shepherd will have to split her time between her daytime gig and her new Lifetime sitcom, Sherri, which was picked up by Lifetime today. The autobiographical-ish comedy revolves around Shepherd’s character dealing with her husband’s infidelity by inviting his babymama and her baby to move in with her.

– Send good thoughts to Survivor champ Ethan Zohn, who’s battling a rare form of Hodgkin’s disease.

Conan O’Brien‘s first Tonight Show guests on June 1: Will Ferrell and Pearl Jam.

24 season eight will premiere on Fox with a two-night, four-hour event that kicks off on Jan. 17. Only eight more months to go! Season seven, BTW, even though it just ended last night, is already on DVD today.

– It’s a buzzkill that ABC cancelled Samantha Who?. Here’s hoping Christina Applegate is back on the tube ASAP.

G4’s summer line-up will include series about wannabe poker champs in 2 Months, $2 Million, and comedians commenting on “outrageous clips from women around the world participating in unusual activities” in The International Sexy Ladies Show.

Ricky Gervais will create an animated series for HBO, based on his popular and hilarious podcasts with pals Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington.

Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice creator Shonda Rhimes‘ new series Inside the Box, about a Washington DC newsroom, didn’t make the cut for ABC’s fall schedule, and has, according to Deadline Hollywood Daily, been sent back for “redevelopment.” Maybe execs just realized that both of her existing series were so lame this season that they require her attention more?

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