340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bleak Houses.

One of the first shows I downloaded for iPod viewing was Huff, an ensemble drama developed by the perpetually-underrated Hank Azaria for Showcase. After watching Blythe Danner win back-to-back Emmys for her role on the show, C and I were both curious as hell about this much-lauded series we'd never heard of.

Ostensibly a drawing-room tragicomedy about a psychiatrist's extended midlife crisis, Huff features a phenomenal cast (Azaria and Danner are joined by the smoldering Paget Brewster, charmingly precocious Anton Yelchin and powerhouse Oliver Platt), chewing their way through thick, meaty roles with gusto. Unfortunately, the series collapses under the weight of its characters' psyches, imploding like a narrative black hole.

I feel I should reiterate that this is a well-written, well-scripted show with a dynamite cast. The characters are real, three-dimensional people brought to life by skilled and talented actors; in addition to Danner's sublime work, Platt deserves special mention for his scene-stealing portrayal of the relentlessly self-destructive best friend/devil's advocate.

Huff grapples with some heavy issues in its first season — suicide, survivor's guilt, professional accountability, incest, alcoholism, adolescent sexuality, etc. — Though initially mesmerizing, the récit succumbed to the combined mass of the characters' neuroses and over time I became less and less motivated to watch. Also — and on an entirely personal note — watching the disintegration of a happy marriage is depressing as hell. At the conclusion of the first season, I surrendered: the second season remains on my hard drive, unwatched (and perhaps unwatchable).

If there'd been a touch more comedy in the mix, a less cynical sense of humour applied to the situations, I probably would've relished another go 'round; as it is, I'm content to let the story end in mid-sentence.


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