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.)
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.