HUFF: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (2004-2005)
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"Pilot," "Assault and Pepper," "Lipstick on Your Panties," "Control," "Flashpants," "Is She Dead?," "That Fucking Cabin," "Cold Day in Shanghai," "Christmas Is Ruined," "The Good Doctor," "The Sample Closet," "All the King's Horses," "Crazy Nuts & All Fucked Up"
MASTERS OF HORROR: H.P. LOVECRAFT'S DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE (2005)
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starring Ezra Godden, Chelah Horsdal
teleplay by Dennis Paoli & Stuart Gordon, based on the story by H.P. Lovecraft
directed by Stuart Gordon
MASTERS OF HORROR: CIGARETTE BURNS (2005)
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starring Norman Reedus, Udo Kier
teleplay by Drew McWeeny & Scott Swan
directed by John Carpenter
by Walter Chaw In an effort to step out from the shadow of HBO's remarkable run of original programming, Showtime contributes to the noise pollution with retarded, sub-par retreads like the inexplicably-lauded hour-longs "Weeds", "The L Word", and the puffed-up psychodrama "Huff". I'm a big fan of Hank Azaria, for no good reason, I guess, beyond his long-term involvement with "The Simpsons", but cast herein as the titular shrink (Craig "Huff" Huffstodt) who witnesses a gay patient (Noel Fisher) commit suicide in his office in the pilot episode, Azaria finds more than just his character neutered and ineffectual. The writing is the first problem with "Huff", leaning hard as it does on the Dr. Phil Handbook for Fake Shrinks in its therapy sessions (leave out the dead gay kid, incidentally, and until episode four's guy-who-refuses-to-shit Huff's patients all appear to be beautiful women) and making the bad mistake of thinking that castrating bitch goddess mothers (Blythe Danner, playing Estelle Getty), nymphomaniac wives (Paget Brewster), and precious/precocious kids (Anton Yelchin) will write themselves out of narrative Bermuda Triangles. Its lack of originality and stultifying obviousness isn't what I hate (it's too boring to hate), though: what I hate is the intrusion of the supernatural in the character of a Hungarian panhandler (Jack Lauger) Huff helps in ways so astonishingly altruistic as to suggest religious mania--not to mention an aesthetic that applies edits and score with the feckless aggression of the genuinely clueless. It looks cool, it sounds sage, and it leaves characters stranded in the middle of a whole lot of slick, iMovie-crunched, amateurish bullshit.
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