My Own Worst Enemy - Series Premiere!




We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving Monday night, for reasons best explained in the link. Anyway, because of that, I didn't get to watch Monday's TV Monday. I did happen to flip through quickly (looking to see the baseball and football scores), and happen to catch about 1 minute right in the middle of the pilot for My Own Worst Enemy. It look stupid, and I mentally crossed the show off as one fewer I would need to watch and review.

However, I'm really trying to give this TV Warrior thing a go, and part of that means to no pre-judge, so I managed to watch catch up last night.

The first episode was quite awesome, which really pisses me off.

[In Describing the show, I will be giving away spoilers, so if you want to find out for yourself, watch online at hulu.com, nbc.com or imdb.com, or USA is re-running the pilot tonight at Midnight, as is Sci-Fi Channel (for some reason) Friday at 7:00.)



Series Premiere: 1.1 - "Breakdown"


Think: Alias meets The Manchurian Candidate, or Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Bond




The premise: Christian Slater has a split personality. One half is Henry Spivey, married with two kids and with a boring job that sends him on business trips all over the country. The other half is Edward Albright, super-spy for secret government organization (a veritable cottage industry these days), who has no problem bedding sexy French spies and then killing them. (If I could find a scantily clad picture of her, I would include it here. Oh how I have tried.)

I know what you're thinking: what a great excuse to sleep with other women! Sadly, I don't think the excuse "but my other personality is a spy!" is going to fly, but try it and let me know how it works out.

It is a pretty decent idea for a show, though, and Christian Slater is a pretty good choice to play the guy. He's always seemed half crazy to me anyhow. I have to give him props for how effortlessly he switches back and forth between the personas.

I should mention that he doesn't just "snap out of it." The whole normal guy personality is (supposedly) tightly controlled, and is completely unaware of the spy persona. Edward (the spy) is aware of Henry's existence, but has no memory or control of what the nice guy does, either.



That sounds confusing, but it's really not. What makes matters worse is that normal guy Henry is "dreaming" about spy Edward's exploits, a fact he shares with his luscious psychiatrist Saffron Burrows. (Who you may have enjoyed in THE BANK JOB, and is mentioned mainly to give me an excuse to post a hot picture.)



Speaking of hot chicks, not only is the Bang-then-Bangbang spy at the beginning supremely hot, but Henry's wife is Madchen Almick, who may be the hottest yet. (Yes, I mentioned that only so I could post her photo. She also has done much movie nudity, which, sadly, I cannot post, but you should be able to find it yourself. I'm here to help.)

Another one of the "agents" is played by a much older looking Mike O'Malley. (I guess 122 episodes of Yes Dear will do that to you.) I have always liked O'Malley's comedic timing, but in the pilot he plays totally straight. It will be interesting to see what they have in mind for this character. Other "work characters" are played byAlfre Woodard, who runs the operation, and the legendary Mindy Sterling, as Henry's "Secretary" who keeps everything in place, and the requisite tech/nerd (who I didn't recognize, but that means nothing, since no one knew how great Marshall was until he showed up on Alias). Both women are gifted actors, which bodes well.

I don't really know how the show will unfold. The plot gives us a lot of exposition about how Edward/Henry came to be. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that super-spy Edward is not the alter-ego, but Henry is! Why would a spy create a normal "boring" guy who just has a normal life? I don't know, but that idea intrigued me.

Of course that intrigue is also blown out of the water right off since the plot involves Henry finding out about all this. Will Henry just have to exist, knowing what he knows, "accidentally" showing up on missions when Edward should be the one handling things? Or is there something else going on?

Again, I don't know, and to be honest, I am not sure how long the premise can hold up to strict scrutiny. To be sure: I'm positive the psychiatrist is more than she seems, and possibly Henry's wife is too. (Or will be.) Still, this seems like the kind of show best set up for one season, not 5. Sadly, we knowthat's not how the Economics of Hollywood and Broadcast TV is set up.

But I'm getting way ahead of myself. The bottom line is: the pilot episode of My Own Worst Enemy was good, perhaps shockingly so. The spy stuff was cool, but there was also a menace and implied level of violence that departs from recent forays on the subject. Alias was violent, to be sure, but there was always a slight "fairy-tale" aspect to things. My Own Worst Enemy seems more like grim-reality. You know, as much as impossible sleeper-agents who rub up against beautiful women can be.

It's only been one episode, but that one episode is good enough to recommend that you check out the pilot yourself and see what you think. So far so good.

2 comments:

Ajax said...

Method writer that I am, things started going off the rails for me right around the time we found out Henry was the artificial personality and Edward the 'main': if you had a James Bondian secret agent/assassin, why would you spend time, money, and effort making him a twerpy mini-van-driving dad during his off-mission time? I'm not saying its not original. It is. But Henry spends much of his time after discovering he's a killer wondering why Edward is a killer (duh: he's freakin' good at it), and not a single second wondering why the hell he and all his memories were fabricated in the first place. Or, as Hype pointed out, how such a schulb somehow managed to marry such a hot hottie like his wife, or why his therapist is, similarly, freakishly uber attractive.

And if I was going to subtitle MOWE, I'd call it, 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Nicholson', because anyone who saw 'Heathers' (or pretty much anything else Slater did for the first 25 years of his life) immediately recognized Edward has far more Jack in his personality than James.

Overall, I thought MOWE was only fair, and not worth bumping any of my regular TV watching. But if it was on, and Sarah Conner was inexplicably not... I'd watch it just for Ray, Edward's lethal co-worker/Henry's office-drone buddy. The dichotomy of his shifts between water-cooler gossiper and government killer-robot is chilling just watching it.

peace
Ajax

Ajax said...

One other thing that bugs me (because, as we know, there's always one other thing that bugs me) is the seemingly-obligatory inclusion along Henry's path of self/Edward discovery that Edward was once a soldier who had earned a Medal of Honor.

Medals of Honor are quite the vogue these days, having started with John Rambo back in the day, and continuing merrily along (including Forrest Gump, if memory serves) until now, apparently meaning to denote that the recipient is some sort of ultimate military baddass, not just a typical military wannabee badass, which everyone else around them tends to become by default in the company of a MoH winner.

http://www.medalofhonor.com/MedalofHonorCriteria.htm

Let me start by saying the extraordinary and highly public nature of the award makes it profoundly stupid that a secret agent has one. As well, checking the link above, certain words should jump out. Like 'gallantry', 'personal bravery or self-sacrifice', and 'at risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty'.

Edward may be a freaky-deaky uber-killer, no question. And he has a nice car (also no question). But the Medal of Honor isn't about just killing bad guys. It has much more to do with saving the lives of one's comrades than taking the lives of enemies. And the whole reason Edward is such a good killer is is lack of contacts, and a lack of serious personal concern about those he works with (hot French arms dealer's squeeze? dead. and no qualms about sleeping with Henry's wife either).

I'm thinking the writers wanted some sort of tip-off that Edward was a good soldier back before he worked for the super secret assassination for hire people. And people probably do recognize 'Medal of Honor' and its ramifications more than a Silver Star, or Navy Cross. But the Medal of Honor is being made into a cliche because of this sort of lazy thinking.

And that's the one more thing.

peace
Ajax