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How to torpedo a series during the pilot episode


Long ago, one of darling wife’s many phases was as a ballerina, and so we were required to watch the pilot episode of “Bunheads” last night. Unfortunately the writer did a deft job of torpedoing the series with the pilot episode. For example:

  • Use the character of Hubbell Flowers (played by Alan Ruck, who rose to fame as Cameron Frye from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”) merely as a plot device to get Michelle Simms (played by Sutton Foster with wry grit) from her dead-end Las Vegas showgirl job to a tiny seaside town in California (paradise). Once she’s there, kill him off immediately. Don’t spend time exploring their budding relationship as stalker+showgirl become husband+wife, and the possibility that love might actually grow from two lonely people thrown together.
  • Don’t spend much time exploring the humor in people’s misperceptions of Michelle. Everyone thinks she’s a stripper from Tahoe, or a hooker from Reno, and that whole discussion takes perhaps 30 seconds. We could have spent a whole episode just on Michelle overcoming people’s gossip-fueled misperceptions of her.
  • Introduce a ton of wacky characters all in one episode, and don’t devote any time to character development.

I think the series would have been better served by making it 30 minutes per episode, and stretch the plot accordingly to keep the audience coming back.

  • Episode 1 – Hubbell stalks Michelle politely. He thinks she’s a great dancer and he wants to rescue her from her Vegas life, which she readily admits she loathes.
  • Episode 2 – Hubbell convinces Michelle to marry him in Vegas to escape her dead-end job and move with him to his seaside mansion.
  • Episode 3 – Michelle arrives in town and walks into a house full of dolls and knicknacks. It turns out Hubbell lives with his mother. Horrors!
  • Episode 4 – Michelle meets mom, an ex-ballerina who runs a dance school in Hubbell’s basement. Mom hates Michelle automatically. Horrors!
  • Episode 5 – Michelle meets some of the townsfolk, who have terrible preconceptions of her via the gossip grapevine.
  • Episode 6 – Michelle gets sucked into helping Mom with the dance school.

And so on. Explore Michelle’s loveless marriage to Hubbell, who knows perfectly well that she doesn’t love him, but allow them to grow together and actually develop feelings for each other. If you’re going to kill him off, save it for the season finale, making it poignant and heartfelt. Then Michelle and Mom can carry on alone.

But no. Lamar Damon writes the show for an audience afflicted with ADHD, which is never a good idea because the audience can’t remember any of the advertisers past the end of an episode, negating the show’s advertising value.

Sigh. A good premise, very badly done. I like the characters, I like the dialogue, but my cat could write better than Damon does. I’m not saying which cat, because it might hurt the other cats’ feelings that I didn’t pick them. But seriously.

One Comment
  1. 2012-06-13T18:35:57+00:00 18:35

    Thanks for the review. I’ll avoid it when it hits our shores


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