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TV Review: HBO's 'Hung'

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'Hung'
Three stars
10 p.m. Sunday, HBO

Finally, a show we can relate to! Viewers can't live on "Real Housewives of New Jersey" reunions alone, although it's noble to try. So HBO brings us back to real reality with the story of Ray Drecker, a high school basketball hotshot who married the prom queen. Life didn't just go downhill after that for him - it went subterranean.

An injury ended his athletic career, and he ended up a high school coach who gets in trouble from the principal for using bad words in his pep talks. His wife has left him for a dermatologist ("He's a doctor! He saves lives!" she explains). His daughter is dating someone named Hammer, and his son is dabbling in Goth makeup.

And then came the house fire. No, Ray hadn't kept up the insurance.

The economy has been so devastating for so many people that living in a tent in your backyard like Ray doesn't seem so far-fetched anymore.

How can he make some money, rebuild his house, and get his kids back? A seminar instructs him to "identify your own tool" for success, and Ray just has one thing going for him: his oversized groin ferret. (Sorry. I got carried away Googling for synonyms for "penis.")

"Now what the hell do I do with the damn thing?" wonders Ray.

In the fine tradition of "Weeds" and "Breaking Bad," this is the story of a middle-aged suburbanite driven to desperate measures, living a double life and getting a little thrill out of breaking the law.

Imagine how many actors competed for the part. I bet David Duchovny is kicking himself right now for settling for "Kalifornication." But the choice role went to Thomas Jane, better known as superhero "The Punisher" and as Patricia Arquette's ex. He is utterly believable as a none-too-bright underachiever. At least he can laugh at himself. And, you know, make women scream in a good way.

Every pimp needs a ho, and Ray finds his in local "poet" Tanya, who comes up with an impressive marketing plan on how to package his package. She is played by character actress Jane Adams, whom you may remember from "Frasier." You know how you look first thing in the morning? That's how Tanya looks all day. She calls their business "Happiness Consultants" and hands out refrigerator magnets.

Anne Heche is less successful in the role of Ray's ex-wife, Jessica. As a self-centered and shallow person who is sincerely trying to be a good person, Jessica is too over-the-top to belong in this show. But I will give her a chance, and I do look forward to seeing all of her pastel twinsets.

The first four episodes are all about getting business up and running, but the series has the potential to explore some interesting topics: Sexually, what is considered normal? Is a woman taking charge of her sex life empowering? What do women want? And is there any way to escape an adjustable rate mortgage?

There's no full-frontal, sorry, although Ray shows plenty of skin. We are left to wonder why Mark Wahlberg's prosthetic in "Boogie Nights" was not available for filming. Even so, "Hung" is worth watching. There are worse ways to spend your nights than with Ray Drecker: male prostitute.

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2 Comments

Hung is right on the social pulse, I predict that (Season 2)

Will again put all the cynics and critics to shame, This show is

Not your sleazy slap stick comendy,It has a very

Sophisticated plot that took all season to put into prespective

My advice to the writers are to incorporate, Some of the extra's

From the back-groud into little 1&2 min cameos, I watched all ten

Shows and saw talent from the back-ground jumping out of the seams.

In particular in the season finale in the Coney Island scene, It

Was an African American kid, Setting with two girls at a table,

Behind Thomas Jane and Jane Adams, This kid caught my attention

Without saying anything, His body movements indicated that it was

Something more to come,And when this kid smiled (OH MY GOD)He lit

Up the room, I went on line and purchased this episode to just see

This 20 seconds over and over again, I zoomed lensed my computer

To just stare at his smile. How on God's green earth can one have

A natural smile that perfect, I guess whomever the producer was,

When they were flimming must have saw the samething I saw whoever

This kid is,They need to get him to speaking because this is the

Type of raw talent that contributes to hit shows season after season

As a televison enthusiast I wonder can this kid really act or was

It one of those freaks on nature happening, I'll bet my last dollar

That this kid is a star, For some strange reason When I observed his

Features this kid has the face of an angel. Inspite of the shabby

Outfit he was wearing in this scene, I think HBO really needs to

Get up in the neighborhoods in Detroit to give viewers like myself

A real life experience of the character that this city has to offer.

I enjoy seeing the different landscapes that Detroit has to offer!

From the sound of this series, I'm glad that David Duchovny did not go with this. Californication is 1000 times better then this. The premise sounds awful. And by the way Californication beigns with a C not a K. The film Kalifornia is the K .

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This page contains a single entry by Paige Wiser published on June 24, 2009 11:40 AM.

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