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Series premiere: Hung hangs its shingle Sunday at 10 on HBO Canada

In television on 06/27/2009 at 3:05 pm

Series name
Hung

Debuts
Sunday, June 28 at 10 p.m. ET on HBO Canada

Regularly airs
Sundays from 10-10:30 p.m. ET (although the June 28 premiere runs about 45 minutes or so) on HBO Canada

Premise
Stop me if you’ve heard this country song before. A one-time star athlete who hates the teacher/coach job he turned to after a career-ending injury, the same guy whose wife left him for a dermatologist and his magical injections, loses his house to a fire, necessitating the loss of his children to his Botoxed ex and her skin doc. Meet Ray. He’s living in a tent, in the backyard of his burned-out home. His neighbour, whose love of expensively rendered landscaping bad taste is unparalleled, is trying to drive him from the neighbourhood. Oh yeah. He’s broke. And hopeless. So you can imagine that a one-night stand would only sink this poor schlub lower than a hound dog sleeping in a wet ditch. But that boff, with a women he shtupped before but of course doesn’t remember, changes Ray’s life. Because it’s when he and his new friend decide that he, in fact, does have one thing going for him. His penis. And they decide to put his penis to work in a one-man escort service.

Primary cast and crew
Thomas Jane (Punisher, 61*) is Ray Drecker, about as regular a guy as you can imagine. Well, aside from the enormous penis.

Jane Adams (Little Children, Frasier, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events) is Ray’s new friend, Tanya Skagle, poet, proof reader and pimpette.

Anne Heche (Men in Trees) is Ray’s ex, vapid ditz striving to be liked by her teen children.

Charlie Saxton (minor credits so far but he’s in the upcoming film adaptation of The Lovely Bones, so watch for that) is Damon, the son whose painted fingernails and makeup causes a little parental concern.

Sianoa Smit-McPhee (couple of Australian series, As the Bell Rings and Neighbours) is Darby, the sulky daughter.

Dmitry Lipkin (The Riches) is exec producer and writer.

Buzz buzz
The one-trick, um, pony of a title is good for one very brief laugh and then it’s just unfortunate. This black-comic series has humour, but even the humour is the opposite of titillating. But that didn’t stop Variety and others from writing sexy stories about the concept.

But what do I know anyway? After having seen the first four episodes, I do declare…
I’ve already covered the fact that, despite the title, this series is not a sex-joke shocker. Set in depressed Detroit, it is about a family of depressed people. The shocker is that it’s a sweet, thoughtful look at how hard it is to haul your arse out of that depression. “Make somebody feel good” is the message, because you gotta do something and anyway, it might make you happy or at least put a few buck in your pocket. But I’ve gone and made this series sound serious and self-helpish. Not so. It’s a true dark comedy, embracing ridiculous leaps of narrative logic, in which a spunky poet-baker pimps her recent one-night stand out to society ladies so he can finance the rebuilding of his cindered home. You should know that it starts out slooooooooow; it takes a full three episodes to hit its stride, but stay the course. Episode 4 will make you smile. I guarantee. Oh, and hit the mute button whenever Anne Heche’s character comes onscreen. I so far don’t see the point except to illustrate how little Ray was paying attention to his joyless marriage to this panicky, bland character.

Other reviews
Monsters and Critics’ critic April McIntyre agrees this series takes a few episodes to grow on you … and she earns a couple of cranky comments that she should not buy the series’ view that teachers like Ray are criminally underpaid.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Tim Goodman calls Hung downright “endearing.”

For something on the more acid end of the spectrum, Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal not only declares this series a failure, but she uses some of the most unkind language I have encountered in a while (and I get around), describing Ray’s first true client, whose absence of glamour is central to the action, as “a sad-eyed, fat, ever-so-pathetic wife”. Wow. Is that you, Mother Teresa?

Official website
Meh.

Wondering when the other new series and returning series are kicking off?
Click here for my select list of summer premieres and other important dates. Who am I to tell you what to do, but you could consider bookmarking it…

— Denise Duguay

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