BLUNT TALK Season One Review
I apologize for the belated nature of this article. Every time I sat down to review the first season of BLUNT TALK since its October 24th finale, I was stymied by the mixed feelings I hold for it. STARZ’s new comedy series is helmed by Jonathan Ames of BORED TO DEATH fame, produced by Seth MacFarlane (best known for Christmas album HOLIDAY FOR SWING), and stars Patrick Stewart, the best captain to command the starship Enterprise. Its origins are decidedly colorful, for lack of a better term, and it’s impossible to accurately pin down which of these leading men has the greatest impact on the show.
BLUNT TALK follows the life of Walter Blunt, played by Stewart, a British expatriate and Falklands War veteran living in Los Angeles as a newscaster. For Walter, the average day is a struggle to balance his network schedule with all of the wacky escapades that constantly befall him. His chief confidants are Harry (Adrian Scarborough), his manservant and former Falklands subordinate that still refers to him as “Major,” as well as Rosalie (Jacki Weaver), his swinger best friend and producer. Timm Sharp and Dolly Wells play a pair of assistant producers, Jim and Celia, that, more often than not, exacerbate Blunt’s hijinks. All of the main players, as well as the supporting lineup, are charming as all Hell, with some phenomenal chemistry among the leads. If there is one thing I can say with absolute certainty about BLUNT TALK, it’s that the cast is both the main attraction and its strongest suit.
“We get it, you love us, now get on with it!”
The opening two episodes of the season, which released on demand ahead of the premiere, are simply ten out of ten, setting the tone for what is to come. As with anything from Ames or MacFarlane, BLUNT TALK is a raucous and raunchy affair. The pilot begins with Blunt getting arrested after kicking a cop in the balls when he’s caught with an underage transgender prostitute. After he’s released, he condemns/defends his own actions by interviewing himself on live TV. In the second episode, Blunt and crew have to cover a hurricane in Texas, but when they miss their flight the team stages their own storm in a high-end porn studio. Without giving too much away, the episode features the most hysterical and authentic scene involving public restrooms on modern television. You haven’t seen Sir Patrick like this before; it’s surreal seeing Professor X getting whipped while naked as part of his morning routine. It’s understandable that anyone would be hooked from such an introduction.
The most fun you’ll have in an airport toilet
And then the show proper starts. While the sampler dish involved tightly woven scripts with plenty of original material, the main course is a spastic, scatterbrained affair. BLUNT TALK simply has too many balls in the air, and while its ambition is admirable, the result is mostly just balls. The long list of recurring characters have some real standouts, like Gisele, the aforementioned prostitute, or Duncan, a die-hard environmental activist played by BORED TO DEATH veteran Jason Schwartzman. It’s a real shame that this supporting cast is then trivialized by hardly getting any screentime. Characters vanish without completing their arcs or are introduced simply to supply Blunt with some obvious setups to which he can deliver the punchline. When the show decides to spend time on the supporting cast, it’s in the form of ensemble episodes that jump between each character for weak, minute-long blurbs that are as limp as they are lazy. Yeah, BLUNT TALK has a good cast, but they’re only doing the best with what they have, which usually isn’t much.
The episodes themselves begin with interesting premises, though none of them feature Blunt’s show as heavily as the first two. Without the newsroom backdrop, most of Walter’s meanderings feel aimless and pointless, and the show loses its identity in the process. Like the characters, plots are often dropped or even solved offscreen. The resolutions present are off-the-cuff and never feel earned, rather there to end the episode than the story itself. General dialogue also drops the ball, with the majority of the show falling to a lukewarm temperature that really carries that MacFarlane brand. Gags are tacked-on and forced, and I actually found myself chuckling out of pity many times during the show. My heart goes out to the actors that had to drop these major duds.
The only way to get through some of these episodes
BLUNT TALK feels like the child of a broken, polygamous marriage, pulled back and forth by its parents in a three way tug-of-war. Some directions it takes are good, but most of the time it takes a turn for the worse. There are moments of brilliance among hours of banality. Patrick Stewart gives a performance that demands to be watched, but trips over the tangled mess of a show that it had the misfortune of existing in. BLUNT TALK deserves to be good and it breaks my heart that I can’t recommend it in good faith. Bluntly put, this is one you can pass on.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend
BLUNT TALK is available to purchase through STARZ