Friday, April 23, 2010

Gravity: I watched so you don't have to

Fienberg and I spent a decent portion of this week's podcast bashing the hell out of "Gravity," the heinous new non-comedy that Starz has for whatever reason decided to pair with "Party Down" tonight at 10:30. For those of you who read but don't listen, here's the gist:

It was created by and co-stars Eric Schaeffer, an actor/writer/producer who specializes in making incredibly uncomfortable films ("If Lucy Fell") and/or TV shows ("Starved") in which he plays completely loathsome human beings surrounded by broad caricatures. Here, he's a cop who somehow becomes connected to members of a support group for suicide survivors (including Krysten Ritter, Ivan Sergei and, given nothing to do in the episodes I've seen, Ving Rhames).

I actually vaguely liked "Starved" (about a support group for people with eating disorders) when it debuted, in part because it seemed to have a point-of-view about its subject, in part because I thought some of its comedy bits were, while gross, kind of funny. (They did an episode where Schaeffer's character had a mishap while getting a colonic.) Here, I have no idea what the point of anything is, nor what exactly I'm supposed to find funny (other than, again, a bunch of broadly-drawn stereotypes about gays and other minorities). Nor do I have any idea why Schaeffer's character is on the show, save that Schaeffer likes to put himself in the things he does.

It's not funny, it's not engaging, it's not in any way, shape or form a good match with "Party Down," and I would advise those of you watching that show tonight to change the channel abruptly as soon as the end credits are done rolling.

That is all.

27 comments:

Zach said...

Hoo boy, that is one epically scathing review sir. Well I'll be sure to switch the channel after Party Down haha.

My question is, do you think Starz should have kept Head Case around for another year to pair with the show? If not, are there any other shows lined up in the Starz pipe? It seems all they have is Crash, Party Down and Spartacus, and the futures of Crash and Party Down seem like they could be in doubt for season 3.

Anonymous said...

I don't even get Starz, so it's not like I could watch this even if I wanted to, but wow, does that sound bad. Eric Schaeffer is just an awful, awful person (see here: http://gawker.com/tag/eric-schaeffer/).

Anonymous said...

>gasp< is that kristen ritter in the photo???

Josh M. said...

Oh my God, Eric Schaeffer is still around? We used to joke about him in college, how he would somehow get the financing to make these shows/films despite having zero talent behind the camera and even less in front of it.

I'm guessing Daddy has quite a bank account.

drake lelane said...

I started watching blind earlier this week and when Eric Schaeffer showed up as the detective, I knew why it smelt funny. Besides his narcissistic need play smarmy characters in order to fulfill his own self-therapy, it's Schaeffer's clunky directing that has always turns me off. I don't know if he just sees himself as this auteur or what, but somebody somewhere has had to have sat him down and given him the 'let someone else direct this (and/or rewrite the script)' talk, because he has some good ideas... they just seem shoddily executed.

Art Fleming said...

There was an interview with Krysten Ritter on the Vulture Blog where she said she basically took every role she was offered, i guess that explains why shes in this.

Zack Smith said...

I'm strangely obsessed with Eric Schaeffer because, as mentioned by others, he keeps getting projects despite everything I've seem by him being creepy and off-putting.

@drake lelane
Besides his narcissistic need play smarmy characters in order to fulfill his own self-therapy, it's Schaeffer's clunky directing that has always turns me off. I don't know if he just sees himself as this auteur or what, but somebody somewhere has had to have sat him down and given him the 'let someone else direct this (and/or rewrite the script)' talk, because he has some good ideas... they just seem shoddily executed.

Thank you, Drake! You just saved me about five paragraphs of whining. Shaeffer clearly has the ability to attract good actors to his material, and there's something intriguing in a few of his premises, but the biggest problem with his work is...him.

(And after reading an interview about his single blog, I'm not sure why anyone would ever want to date him, talk to him, or put on the brakes if they saw him crossing the street.)

Krysten Ritter will doubtlessly find a better vehicle than this...

Anonymous said...

If you ask me, you and Feinberg were too easy on the show. I saw the episodes that are hosted on the Starz website, and they are easily the two most offensive episodes of fictional television I have seen all season.

I was offended as someone who is close to the topic of depression and suicide, as a Catholic, as a fan of black comedy, and as a subscriber to Starz. I am not familiar enough with Eric Schaeffer to have recognized him or his work, though a quick web search reminded me that I did see some of Showtime's I Can't Believe I'm Still Single, and thought the guy was insufferable.

Chrissy said...

@Zach:
"My question is, do you think Starz should have kept Head Case around for another year to pair with the show?"

You weren't asking me, but I think yes. Head Case was much broader and, ultimately, sadder, than Party Down, but it was funny, and dealt with some similar themes (leeching off the fame of others, reality not living up to our expectations, full-body herpes...wait, maybe not that last one). I was bummed it got canceled, although it took me a while to start liking it.

I couldn't figure out what Starz had going on that was so essential to their schedule that they ditched Head Case. Apparently, nothing.

Kensington said...

Ugh, how does that man get support for his projects?

I can't think of a one he hasn't made worse. I kind of liked Starved, but it was in spite of his presence.

Anonymous said...

Wow, was I the only one who really liked this? It definitely had it's good and bad points, but overall I was intrigued. It found comedic aspects to a subject as serious as suicide, but never let you forget the stakes. There were a lot of little moments that I thought were beautifully shot. I encourage people to give it a chance to grow and evolve a little.

Tyroc said...

Too bad it's no good. I really didn't care for Starved, though, so not shocking.

I do like Krysten Ritter a great deal, and think she's a big talent. Hopefully she'll find the right role.

Schmoker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Schmoker said...

Wow, all this vitriol means I just have got to watch this show now.

I may hate myself for it, but no way I can let something that sparks Alan to go this nuts (both on the blog and on a goodly sized portion of the podcast) is something I have to see for myself.

Schmoker said...

Yeah, I could delete it again, but I'm in a hurry and sort of let m grammar skills (what little I have) go out the window on that last comment. C'est la vie.

CTrauty said...

Brutal! I lasted approx. 5 minutes before I turned it off. Horrible special effect with the car in the pool, ridiculous cake eating scene, stupid bird poop topic. I want my 5 minutes back. Has a show on a premium ever been cancelled mid season?? This should be the first!

Anonymous said...

please, please let kristin ritter return to BB, if only in a retrospective manner...please, please...

Anonymous said...

please, please let kristin ritter return to BB, if only in a retrospective manner...please, please...vdrcae

Anonymous said...

I'd read all hate for this show on this thread but still decided to give it a shot just because I like Krystin Ritter. I actually kinda liked the show. Will watch ep 2 for sure.

Zack Smith said...

After the fun of this thread, I saw an interview with Eric Shaeffer on a NY Magazine blog. Out of boredom, I clicked on it:

http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/04/eric_schaeffer_on_gravity_his.html

It confirms that 1) the show existed as a script before his involvement, and he came in to "make it viable," and 2) he originally wanted to play the Ivan Sergei role, but Starz wasn't into it, so he cast himself as the detective instead.

So 1) the show could have been decent, but 2) imagine what we were spared.

I am now going to try to move on from this. My Eric Schaeffer hatred is so great that it might well drive me the therapy.

Sareeta said...

I don't have Starz so no way to test this show for myself just yet, but Gravity actually sounds interesting. Was it just not executed very well? It got good reviews on Hollywood Reporter and in my local newspaper...

kmj said...

Thanks for the link, Zack. And here I was, giving Schaeffer credit because at least he didn't cast himself as the male lead. I should have known better.

I watched the pilot primarily because Party Down wouldn't load On Demand. It was not good, even with lowered expectations.

Aristophanes said...

I have to echo other folks who gave it a try because the reviews were so strongly bad. I was wondering if I'd buck the trend and find that I actually liked it. It was boring enough that I deleted it half way through without caring what happened.

Beyond the fact that it was boring, I also can't fathom how it was a comedy. It wasn't just punchlines that caused me to sit straight-faced and say "That's not funny." I really didn't even see any attempts at humor... although maybe that bird poop bit was supposed to be funny? Or the cake? That's a pretty weak attempt at comedy if that's where the laughs were supposed to be.

Thanks for your valiant attempt to dissuade us from watching this dreck, Alan.

Anonymous said...

Oh, dear Lord, this sounds like a train wreck, doesn't it?

Just wanted one more Anonymous comment on here that wasn't strangely pod-like and positive (the Gawker linked one, excepted).

ghoti said...

"My Life's in Turnaround" is an awesome flick. Just sayin'...

fgmerchant said...

So I watched it, mostly because I also like Starved, and anything that has Krysten Ritter in it gets a look from me. It wasn't as horrible as I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't funny. I might give it a shot next week, but again, that's only for Krysten Ritter!

Cody said...

This was completely terrible, but I so wanted it to be good. I loved Starved, and when I heard that Eric Schaeffer was going to do a show about suicide group therapy, I hoped it would be awesome. There are so many terrible things about this show before you see any glimpse of anything that could be good. I mean, at the very broadest level, this show is a great idea, and putting Schaeffer in charge seems like a winner, but I just can't believe how poorly he's executed it. It's like he's put all of his effort into selling it, and he won that battle, so now he can just relax and just do whatever.