Starz Network released the first two episodes of Blunt Talk ahead of the show’s premiere date of Saturday, August 22nd. The comedy stars Patrick Stewart as Walter Blunt, a hapless and utterly self-centered host of a right-wing news program. Critics may laud this show as new ground for Stewart, but it’s by no means his debut into raunchy and borderline over-the-top scenarios.
At the helm of Blunt Talk are creator/director Jonathan Ames and executive producer Seth MacFarlane. MacFarlane enlisted Stewart on several occasions for Family Guy, Ted, and Ted 2, showcasing the veteran actor’s flair for perfect comedic delivery. Blunt Talk thus is more than just an extension of these moments, resulting in smart and playful episodes littered with references to Stewart’s prolific career. Be on the lookout for gems such as Brent Spiner’s brief appearance at the jazz bar as Phil the pianist.
The jazzy vibes in the background, the décor, and even Walter’s formal British speech do much to present the man as an anachronism during the opening scene of “I Seem to Be Running Out of Dreams for Myself.” Following celebrity stereotypes, Walter indulges in alcohol and he has a penchant for marijuana laced chocolate. His valet Harry (Adrian Scarborough) cautions him to take such “time release vitamins” only in moderation.
It’s a delightful recipe for disaster when he shyly picks up a transsexual prostitute, from whom he requests not too much more than a cuddle. Still on a high, he fights with police while quoting “Hamlet” as TMZ-like reporters record the arrest. The almost bromance between Walter and Harry is somewhat heartwarming, nearly making the former an endearing sort of fellow despite his vanity.
In the aftermath, Walter despairs that UBS Network may cancel his already faltering show. He resorts to bribery, trading his precious Jaguar for one more broadcast. He must also participate in sessions with Dr. Weiss (Richard Lewis), a Freudian therapist that prescribes crack. So far, the standout on Walter’s production team is longtime producer Rosalie (Jacki Weaver), who comforts him with a “spoon” or a lie down in the office as he voices his insecurities.
He unwisely takes proffered prescription medication from Jim (Timm Sharp) and suffers Ambien blackouts as he prerecords questions and exaggerated facial expressions for his interview about the arrest. Yes, that’s Walter Blunt in an exclusive with Walter Blunt himself: hilariously following up each pitiful answer with an unrelenting “why” in the intense exchange. Ultimately, the stress and the drugs lead him to collapse on live television during his ensuing soliloquy, bringing the opening chapter to a startling if not completely surprising conclusion.
Blunt Talk has the potential to be a great series for Starz and Patrick Stewart, doing a pretty decent job at establishing Walter’s plight and injecting scenes with a lot of humor. Lines like “I’m no lion in the winter” and “I’m a bald eagle” are handled with such a practiced ease by Stewart. One hopes he can continue in this mode as circumstances further unravel for his tragic character, who tries so hard to be relevant against giants like Anderson Cooper and Bill O’Reilly. Stewart’s performance lends itself well to both the gravitas of a Shakespearean tragedy and the absurdity of Don Quixote’s misadventures, adding another fantastic project to his long resume.
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