When I saw that there was a new show about an acting coach, my first reaction was “meh”. Then I saw it had Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas and I thought, “Hmm, now there’s some casting.” I predicted RENEWAL on pedigree, and I watched the first episode tonight. It premiered back in November, and so my revised prediction after watching is a bit biased. I already knew that critics loved it. I have no idea the actual ratings, but it has some really good buzz.
It’s awesome, and I say that with only one caveat that I’ll come to at the end. Michael Douglas does a fabulous job looking like a broken-down actor more than a few years past his prime, and Alan Arkin is his agent. Both do an amazing job just “living” in the character. It’s quiet, it’s subtle, it’s amazing to watch two pros together.
The agent, Norman, loses his wife in the episode and it seems to be setting up as a buddy relationship between the two, while the acting coach, Sandy, tries to teach a bunch of would-be actors how to improve. Sandy has a daughter who helps run the acting school, and there are a bunch of students serving as fodder for the episodes.
Yet it is the interactions between Sandy and Norman that sing all the way through the episode. Like I said, two pros just talking. They could be reading the phone book and it would be awesome.
So what’s my caveat? I didn’t care about the show. I admired the acting, great writing, but it didn’t resonate with me at all. I don’t know if it is the fact that just about everyone in the show is a Debbie Downer, or it was just this episode, but I felt like I was having energy sucked out of me. It was nice to see Douglas open up, grow as a character, but not enough to make me want to tune in again. Still, I’m going with RENEWAL. I just won’t be watching.