05 January 2007

Not So Dirty

First… the Actress

I mentioned in previous entries I’m a big fan of Courtney Cox and I have a decade of association with her on Friends; partly because her character there is so much like the way I am and partly because Courtney Cox (CC) is excellent at making people laugh. In that show, her bitchiness is part of the comedy. As much as I love CC, I can’t say the same for her performance is a drama show.

On Dirt, as uber-bitch/cold-hearted Lucy Spiller, an editor of two celebrity magazines, CC is sadly stiff and disconnected to me. Even her sex scene was the least bit steamy, it felt awkward and forced…it didn’t look like two people at their horniest or something (haha, what was I expecting, porn?). Also, it looked like she had tons of botox injected on her very pretty face. Where those emotions are, they must be in hiding, coz I can’t see it. And it can’t be because I see her as Monica. Matthew Perry on Studio 60 has successfully departed from the Chandler stereotype in my view; he’s proven himself a good dramatic actor.

Then… the Story

Because it’s cable television, I was expecting a sort of dissented approach to storytelling…something told out of the formula and in a twisted way, but fun and watch-able, nonetheless.

Dirt tries to be that but it is not nearly there.

It was originally a concept of two shows with two separate lead characters. One show was about a schizophrenic celebrity photographer; the other about a tabloid insider.

Excerpts from a New York daily article:

“The idea was to do a show about a guy who would be willing to do anything,” Cox said, “the lowest of the low of paparazzo, the one that is in your garbage and just would do anything for the shot.”

When approached by Cox, Carnahan was working on an idea about a schizophrenic character, based on a report he had heard on public radio about virtual-reality software that allowed users to experience some of the effects of schizophrenia.

In discussions with Cox and her team at Coquette, “the two things coalesced,” Carnahan said. “I thought if I can do a show about the cultural apocalypse told through the eyes of someone who’s hallucinating as well as the perspective of someone who’s deep inside the tabloid world, it could be really interesting. So I started constructing a sort of Faustian story about an actor and this paparazzo.”

At first, Lucy Spiller, the tabloid editor played by Cox, was not intended to be at the center of the series. Instead, the focus was on a schizophrenic photographer. FX, however, wanted changes. The network did not want a show about the price of fame to center on a fictional celebrity, because it would be too easy for the audience to dismiss the action as made up. Similarly, the executives felt the questions faced by a tabloid photographer were not morally complicated enough to drive the series.

The convergence of two stories should equal a great story, one that’s not done on TV yet (I think). Sadly, in my view, it wasn’t well put together. Had I not read this background story, I would have to say that I might as well be watching two different shows. Because I couldn’t reconcile that schizophrenia bit to the main plot. It felt like it just popped in there.

On the good side, the show is watchable or at least worth another look. It hints of something promising, but *channelling into my Monica Geller mode, with my fingers pointing at no one in particular* --- they had better get the writing improved.

Season 1 Episode 1 - Pilot
Original Airing: Jan 2nd 2007
Network: F/X