Russian Doll made my list of premieres to try, and all I really knew about it was about a day being repeated. Based on that premise, it’s almost a lock to be cancelled. Almost every show that has tried it has made it less than one season, even if they went with death, or a repeat of the day for other reasons.
For this one, the character is named Nadia and it’s her 36th birthday. Nadia is a software engineer, single, and way beyond cynical. A 2-pack a day smoker, her biggest contribution to the day is sleeping with a married-but-separated yuppie type, if deep-minded Yuppies were still a thing. Mainly she’s just missing her cat. Fast-forward through her short night, nothing amazing happening other than getting laid, and then she is out on the street. She sees her missing cat across the road, runs to get her, and a cab mows her down. Yep, she’s dead. Except she’s not because it resets back to her being in the bathroom at the party earlier in the night. She doesn’t remember everything, but she has a profound sense of deja vu for some of the night. She makes different choices, ends up almost getting creamed by the same taxi (her ex saves her) and she finds her cat. At the end of the night, the cat vanishes in her arms, she falls in the river and drowns, and wakes up again in the bathroom, this time spitting out the water from the river.
There should be no chance this gets renewed, yet according to the ‘net, it is. How can you make this work past a single season, or even a single couple of episodes? I love these shows, and they are almost impossible to get right for the masses. I love when Star Trek does it, Stargate did an amazing version, Groundhog Day was fun if we could just get rid of Andie McDowell (how does he never try killing her?), Taye Diggs had some game going on in Day Break trying to solve his own frame up. But they don’t last. Loops are fun until you break them, but you have to have a goal that explains either the loop or the ending. And hopefully there’s something about the character that is interesting to watch. I’m not sure Nadia is it. Not that it matters, the premise of time loops is compelling for me and I’ll watch a train wreck if it attempts it.
Nadia is played by Nathasha Lyonne and I’m not thrilled for the first half of EP1. It seems like she’s trying to do a stand-up routine for half the interactions she has. Trying out lines that go nowhere, riffing off other people trying to be funny, but not really succeeding. More neurotic than anything. I haven’t seen her in Orange is the New Black or Portlandia, but she’s not a huge draw for me. After her death and rebirth, she’s a little less annoying in the second half.
For the rest of the characters. nobody stands out. She has two good friends in the apartment, nothing special to add. In the first half of the episode, the guy she f***s seems okay; her ex in the second half is a bit of a d-bag. And I have no idea what’s going on with her recognizing a random homeless guy.
The show’s a bit weird, but I’ll watch it to see where it leads, if anywhere. And if I hadn’t cheated and seen that it was renewed, I’d be predicting cancellation.