Head Cases

Sunday, October 2, 2005

There's no surer sign that it is time to commence the annual Fall television reviews than the first cancellation. This year's honor for least successful new show goes to Head Cases, a generally ill-conceived Odd Couple-derived legal dramedy. The premise is painfully contrived - a high-priced asshole lawyer (Chris O'Donnell) has a nervous breakdown and is assigned by his therapist to spend time with another patient, also a lawyer, but, and get this, he's a bottom-feeding, rage-fueled lawyer (Adam Goldberg).

Now, I feel kind of bad piling on a show that's dead and gone after two episodes, but the writers here clearly missed the whole point of an mismatched pairing for the sake of comedy. Both members of the pair have to have at least some redeeming qualities - otherwise, we're just stuck watching people we don't like dislike each other. True, we're able to find their mutual distaste relateable, but it's not pleasant watching. Chris O'Donnell is really good at playing assholes, but unlike Ben Affleck (the actor who, for me, sets the bar in cinematic assholicness), he doesn't seem to take any pleasure in it. Watching a self-loathing, humorless, self-important asshole for an hour is unbearable.

Adam Goldberg comes off a little better, as well he should, as this is something like his 59th consecutive "crazy, but oddly endearing guy" role. Still, his fits of rage come across as more dangerous than comedic, leading the viewers to wonder how a lawyer could routinely assualt other lawyers without getting disbarred. There's a way to do that kind of story, but unless the show really wanted to do Punch-Drunk Love as a legal drama, I'm not sure how they'd pull it off.

Rating: D (Gone. Unlamented.)

Reviewed by Padgett Arango
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