on June 11, 2006
Perhaps the Producer, Michael Patrick King from Sex and The City and Lisa Kudrow, star from Friends were really expensive to get for HBO, since those shows were so big. However, those shows were made for the masses. Perhaps HBO was expecting another block buster ratings giant. It sounded like it, when they chose not to renew this show, saying the numbers weren't there and they didn't have any resources to put into promoting it further.
However, The Comeback was more of a niche show; subtle, intelligent, willing to embrace pain, humiliation in a point blank fashion. Willing to embrace phases we tend to avoid: those difficult moments in life when somebody says something in which you are not quite sure how to respond, socially awkward situations. A series this intelligent and insightful can only appeal to a few. The great masses prefer simple minded fair to distract them or prefer to see lots of things exploding with lots of pyrotechnics kind of like Homer and Bart Simpson, who are caricatures of "Everyman" on the Street".
But as Valerie (Lisa's character says in one episode); Reality TV is becoming "Coliseum mentality" and that she doesn't do coliseums. Valerie feared her show would not fare well in such a world. This thought proved to be prophetic.
Lisa Kudrow graduated from Vassar College with a degree in Biology. She's an extremely intelligent woman although you might not think so with all the ditzy characters she has played like Phoebe and the Romy and Michelle HS Reunion character.
In The Comeback however, as the main character and as Executive Producer, her intelligence is allowed free rein, as she is allowed to fully develop this Valerie character into a lightning rod for all manner of ridiculous situations...she still plays the part of silly and vain woman but does it so well in concert with the whole cast... We get to see humanity and all it's ridiculous foibles: vanity. prententiousness, selfishness, rudeness, vapidness, indifference, ego mania, self involved-ness...
Each episode allows us to see in subtle details and not so subtle details the dynamics of human/social interactions.
It was definitely not a show for the masses...I don't know if the 2nd season could have been as good as the first but at least we got 13 fantastic episodes of which I have watched at least 15 times each. I think Lisa and Michael should have tried to bring it to Showtime after HBO dropped it but Hey life is always changing...I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
on July 7, 2006
In Lida Kudrow's short-lived HBO series "The Comeback" we are forced to watch former "it-girl" Valerie Cherish as she embarks on a comeback, playing a Mrs. Roper-style character in a jiggly comedy while appearing in her own reality TV show, The Comeback. It all strikes a little too close to home for television celebs, I think, and Kudrow isn't afraid to go to those uncomfortable places making us cringe even as we laugh. At the beginning of the series we're laughing at Valerie and her obvious attempts to make herself look good in the eyes of her fans from the past. By the time the first season wrapped, we were with her every step of the way, rooting for her triumph and feeling her pain. I'm so glad we're going to get this show on DVD... now if we can just have a second season?
on May 16, 2006
FInally, HBO is doing right by "The Comeback" - one of the most hilarious shows ever to grace the TV screen and one which was criminally cancelled after only one season - with a double disk DVD. From tvshowsondvd.com:
The 2 disc set will include all 13 episodes from season 1, along with commentaries on 6 episodes, Valerie's DVD interview, and footage of Valerie backstage at Dancing with the Stars. Episodes on the set include:
<LI>The Comeback (Pilot) - Audio Commentary
<LI>Valerie Triumphs at the Upfronts - Audio Commentary
<LI>Valerie Bonds with the Cast - Audio Commentary
<LI>Valerie Stands Up for Aunt Sassy
<LI>Valerie Demands Dignity
<LI>Valerie Saves the Show
<LI>Valerie Gets a Very Special Episode
<LI>Valerie Relaxes in Palm Springs
<LI>Valerie Hangs with the Cool Kids - Audio Commentary
<LI>Valerie Gets a Magazine Cover
<LI>Valerie Stands Out on the Red Carpet - Audio Commentary
<LI>Valerie Shines Under Stress
<LI>Valerie Does Another Classic Leno - Audio Commentary
on August 2, 2006
It really saddens me that this series was so painfully ignored or misinterpeted by viewers. It's by far one of the funniest half-hours produced for television. It's just too bad that HBO didn't have the nerve to keep it going. That being said, I don't feel too sad for the show. In one season, Valerie undergoes a pretty amazing arc. The last episode is a perfect end to the series. I would have loved to see more, but its a great package in and of itself.
I think the humor is something you either get or don't get. It's pretty subtle most of the time. Lisa Kudrow can send me into a fit of laughter with one twinge of her face in a reaction shot. It took me a few episodes to get into it, but once I did I was hooked completely.
As some reviews have commented, there are times you don't know how to react. Valerie can bring out so many reactions. You feel sorry for her and want her to win, you're annoyed by her pretensions, laugh at her obliviousness, and warmed by the fact that she really is a good person at the heart of it all. She's such a complete character that Lisa Kudrow dissapears. I never once thought of Phoebe. It's great that "Valerie" does some commentary tracks. They are frequently as hilarious as the episodes themselves.
Kudrow is also helped by an amazing cast. Mickey is a great supporting character, always there with a great throwaway line, her husband is the perfect straight man to the absurdity of Valerie's existance, and special note must be made of Pauly G. He's got to be one of the best villains ever. He's so frustrating that you just have to cheer when... well, that'd be telling. It's a great moment.
on July 30, 2006
I realize that dark comedy like this way-too-short-lived, fake-docu-comedy, which aired on HBO last year, is not for everyone. But, if you get the humor of "The Office," either the origional BBC version or the equally great NBC series, then "The Comeback" is for you. If folks tuned in thinking that they were seeing Lisa Kudrow that they knew and loved from "Friends," then they, too, will be thrown for a loop. The complete opposite of "Friends" (which I also love) or its spin-off "Joey," which was miserable (save for scenes that included the always sidesplittingly funny Jennifer Coolidge as Joey's agent), "The Comeback" had some of the best writing and painfully realistic acting on the part of Kudrow. I'm sorry that HBO didn't get it or give it a chance to find an audience. Paired with "Curb your Enthusiasm," "The Comeback" could have been an HBO classic. I can't wait for my DVD's to arrive so that I can watch the eps for the third or fourth time!
on August 2, 2006
After hearing that Lisa Kudrow would star in a new show about a B-list actress whose trying to make a comeback by starring in her own reality show, I immediately find the series very appealing. And when I finally saw the pilot episode, I really saw a promising series. The series had a rocky start. It premiered to mixed reviews and the ratings were disappointing. Fast forward to the finale and the show, even though the ratings were still weak, is finally receiving wide critical support. And then HBO all of a sudden pulled the plug and abandoned the show. I was really mad when HBO announced that the show won't be renewed for a second season. I really think they've made the wrong decision. They didn't give the series the chance to build an audience especially since the critics are finally behind the show.
But at least HBO redeemed themselves (a little bit, I'll never forgive them for what they did to the show) when I learned that they'd be releasing the first and only season of the show on DVD on August 1 this year. And I'm glad that there's a great amount of special features included in the set most notably the commentaries on 6 episodes. Here are the special features:
Valerie's DVD Interview
Footage of Valerie backstage at Dancing with the Stars
Commentary on 6 Episodes (Pilot, Valerie Triumphs at the Upfronts, Valerie Bonds with the Cast, Valerie Hangs with the Cool Kids, Valerie Stands Out in the Red Carpet, and Valerie Does Another Classic Leno)
So here's a rundown of my personal top 5 episodes of the show:
(Brief background on the series: Valerie Cherish is a former sitcom star from the show called "I'm It" and she's planning to make a comeback by starring in her own reality show while also starring in a new sitcom called Room and Bored.)
1. Valerie Relaxes at Palm Springs- a major turning point for the series. A lot of people have been a little annoyed by Valerie being such a pushover and a doormat. When Valerie finally stood for herself, people started to root for the character. Lisa Kudrow gave an Emmy worthy performance in this episode. The drunk scene was priceless. And the ending was perfect.
2. Valerie Does Another Classic Leno- the series finale is a bittersweet episode. I'm sad that we would never see these characters develop but I'm glad that the series ended on a high note. This episode is a full circle moment for Valerie as she had her big Leno appearance again. The irony of the episode is that when she finally gave up the sleaziness of reality shows, it turned out that was exactly what she needed to regain her fame. The ending of Valerie being mobbed by fans is a classic moment and perfect way to end the episode and series.
3. Valerie Stands Up for Aunt Sassy- another stand out episode as Valerie defended Aunt Sassy (the character she played in the sitcom) from the writers when she found a punchline offensive that might turn off the viewers. This episode was funny and a great character episode for Valerie.
4. Valerie Saves the Show- Valerie was not happy with the premiere of her sitcom when her big scene was bombarded by invasive advertisements. A really funny episode.
5. (TIE) Valerie Stands Out in the Red Carpet and Valerie Hangs with the Cool Kids- the first was about the whole cast of Room and Bored attending an award show where Valerie had a major fashion faux pas with her dress. The second is about the whole cast planning a boycott of the show and backing out in the last minute without Valerie knowing.
There are other great episodes in the series, but those 6 episodes were my favorite. Lisa Kudrow really was award-worthy as Valerie Cherish. She was able to find the balance of comedy and drama in her consistent and well defined characterization. From the first episode to the last episode, the mannerisms she created for the character was intact. She really becomes the character. Kudrow is surrounded by a group of talented supporting actors, most notably Damian Young, as her supportive and protective husband, Lanca Barber as the infamous Paulie G., the pain in the butt whose mission in life is to keep Valerie's life miserable, and lastly Robert Michael Morris as Mickey, Valerie's cheerful makeup artist and her "favorite gay", I mean guy.
I think this is a welll made, engaging, and entertaining series with some wonderful performances from the cast headed by Lisa Kudrow. I highly recommend it.
on August 5, 2006
One reviewer said, "so funny it hurts." I'd actually say "hurts so much I couldn't laugh." Both as a writer and a performer Lisa Kudrow has shown she is absolutely brilliant. Her character Valerie is a has-been with a stunning lack of awareness of herself and the industry that has passed her by. Forced into a humiliating career choice which she believes will be her path back to A-list fame, Valerie despite her previous role is most definitely not it, but she is the only one not to know.
The pain begins as her character is progressively marginalized for younger, hipper Friendsoids. Off screen her attempts to act as mentor and moral center to the cast come off excrutiatingly tone deaf and awkward. A scene in which we learn that one of her co-stars, who Valerie considers green and ripe for training, is actually a well-seasoned veteran of another entertainment medium is almost tragic.
The supporting cast from her personal life is great. Her loyal puppy of a clueless hairdresser almost steals the show, and her step daughter is brilliant.
This is a great, can't miss series, and Kudrow absolutely deserves an Emmy for this work, but don't curl up with it hoping for some charming laughs. The material is painful and almost bitter, but worth every minute.
on May 25, 2006
This was one of the best series ever. Lisa Kudrow was brilliant in it. Valerie Cherish- one time a-list TV star is making a comeback as a supporting character on another sitcom. At the same time she is doing a reality documentary about her comeback. Some did not find it overtly funny(You have to actually watch it- the jokes don't fly out and hit you in the face) enough, but I have to tell you that I laughed almost to the point of incontinence on several occasions. And I loved Valerie. She always tried to do the right thing, but it was just so hard! Her sidelong glances at the camera documenting and yet, another embarrassing moment were hysterical. Taken from raw (unedited)footage of the documentary, this show captured some great "unintentional" moments. I loved every episode. HBO did not give this show enough time to develop, cancelling it after one short season. BAD HBO! Valerie had much more to say and I think the show would have developed into another "Sex and the City" if it were given time to flourish. But no for HBO- let's release another "Sex and the City" gift set or another season of One Night Stand with mediocre stand up comedy. Release them on DVD or not, I don't care. I have my set and I will treasure them. But I will buy them if you do.
on July 15, 2006
Come on, folks... Y'can't really blame HBO for the cancellation of this brilliant and offbeat series. If the numbers weren't there, THEY WEREN'T THERE. (I am willing, quite frankly, to forgive them most anything for Six Feet Under ALONE.) When the corporate world begins, despite financial loss, to subsidize art for art's sake, I will know that I was wrong all along, that there IS a life after death, and that I've died and gone to heaven! BIG-TIME Kudos to Ms. Kudrow; we most certainly have not seen the last of her. In a perfect world Poetic Justice would ensure that she will win the Emmy she so richly deserves for making Valerie Cherish a household name in (at least) MY household. Here's to hoping Poetic Justice was tuned in. In the meantime, in a LESS-than-perfect-world, I offer thanks to HBO for giving artistry yet another whirl AND for the superb DVD left behind for all to cherish.
on July 19, 2006
You might have noticed but the folks who liked this show, LOVED IT WITH A PASSION. That said, that it was canceled due to low numbers speaks to its niche appeal. I saw a talk with Lisa Kudrow in which she explained that the head of HBO TV Production never really "got" the show -- otherwise he might have given it another season. But still, what we have been given in this DVD set is a miraculous little gem, a polished and perfect masterpiece, brilliantly written and acted, and highlighting Kudrow in one of her most engaging performances. The masochistic agonies of her gut-wrenchingly optimistic Valerie Cherish, will not be for everyone -- but for those who do "get" it, it is that rare beauty: truth in art. It hurts to watch, but it hurts good.