US crits on “Worst Enemy” and “Mentalist”

How will the reception for new dramas by Christian Slater and Simon Baker affect their chances on Seven and Nine?

Christian Slater’s new drama for NBC, My Own Worst Enemy, is high stakes for the network, which will need a breakout hit in the Fall Season.

Despite early clips disappointing critics in July, there has been much movement behind the scenes. Now a first episode screener is hitting critics, and The Hollywood Reporter’s James Hibberd likes what he sees.

He writes:

The episode is a snappily written, fast-paced thriller that shows Slater can be a — and I’m really trying to avoid using the word “surprisingly” here — likable TV star. He plays Edward/Henry, an assassin whose personality has been split by the government agency that employs him. When active, he’s a superspy. When switched off, he’s a suburban dad.

The story tracks what happens when domesticated manager consultant Henry suddenly wakes up while, for example, attempting an assassination in Moscow. Or salacious psychopath Edward awakes in bed with Henry’s unsuspecting wife. If all this sounds like it could be fun, well, that’s what the promos haven’t shown you and the pilot surprisingly (damn) does.

The episode is smartly directed by David Semel (who shot the first episodes of NBC’s “Heroes,” “Life” and A&E’s “The Cleaner”), who adds some cool moments here — Henry, shell-shocked, during his “first” gunbattle, then, later, drunkenly exploring his newly discovered alter-ego’s apartment.

It’s also nice to see NBC breaking open the piggy bank. The production values feel like the highest since the “Heroes” pilot. You don’t get the sense that everything was shot on greenscreen and backlot. The editing is terrific, taking some notes from the “Bourne” movies.

Meanwhile Variety isn’t exactly doing any cartwheels over Simon Baker’s The Mentalist.

Brian Lowry writes, Baker does possess a certain roguish charm, and writer Bruno Heller (“Rome”) and pilot-directing guru David Nutter mine that — as well as the central character’s slightly menacing backstory — to try and invest the series with a bit of depth, mostly to little avail……

For the most part, though, “The Mentalist” plays like just another clue-sifting procedural, so forgettable that I had difficulty recalling the particulars of the central case 15 minutes after watching it. The show’s lone distinguishing characteristic stems from the casting of Baker as a latter-day Sherlock Holmes — albeit one who winds up squabbling, in tiresome fashion, with his gender-switched Dr. Watson.

My Own Worst Enemy has been picked up by the Seven Network for screening in Australia while Nine has The Mentalist. Both will air this year.

Source: Hollywood Reporter, Variety.

7 Responses

  1. I’m sure it will. Whedon is a legend. Everything that man touches turns into a magical pile of awesomeness. And the only real issue with the scripts was that Whedon was directing, writing and doing a whole bunch of things at the same time and he wanted to make some edits here and there. I’m sure it will kick ass in the US, ratings-wise and quality wise, but it will probably go the way of Fringe when it airs here.

  2. Bit early yet for Seven to screen ad’s for My Own Worst Enemy, though i do agree – this does look like being one of the more intresting new arrivals of the 08′ Fall season…good to hear its better than the preceding ad’s which were pretty much a massive cross-promo for Chevrolet
    The Mentalist may be more intresting than it appears to be on paper, and hopefully it turns out that way – CBS are showing some trust in giving Simon Baker another shot

    RichoTB, we can only hope Dollhouse can overcome its scriptual issues and deliver a massive punch for FOX in Jan

  3. Both will air this year? Wow, I hope they do. I wasn’t expecting them until next year. I’ve yet to see channel 7 air any ads of My Own Worst Enemy but it sounds promising. Christian Slater is the last person I expected to go into TV but these days, so many movie stars are turning to TV.

    I’m looking forward to both shows but I have a feeling that The Mentalist won’t last too long. It’s not because of the review, I just think it won’t be a good rater in the US.

  4. I like both of these shows, My Own Worst Enemy looks like the best of all the fall series and The Mentalist’s pilot was really well done. I can see why people would think The Mentalist is just another police procedural, although it has a smarter, darker undertone to it that puts it more in the field of Dexter than Law & Order. Of course, Dollhouse looks set to blow them both out of the water when it premieres midseason.

  5. I hadn’t heard of My Own Worst Enemy before, any news on a possible air date David?

    Not sounding good for ch9 and The Mentalist, but time will tell, critics have got it wrong before bagging show which have gone on to be big hits and with the Simon Baker connection there would be a curiosity factor but whether that translates into long term ratings is anyones guess. I haven’t managed to catch the pre-air yet and will probably wait for ch9.

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