Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/6/2009 (4587 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Ray Drecker does have one thing going for him, however -- one rather large thing. And after a visit to a self-help seminar inspires him to identify and exploit his personal "winning tool," Ray Drecker gets an idea.
And since the name of the somewhat spicy new HBO comedy/drama in which he finds his inspiration is Hung (premiering Sunday at 11 p.m. on HBO Canada), it doesn't take much figuring to find the measure of the "winning tool" Ray's seeking to employ.
Equal parts made-for-cable racy and family-drama sensitive, Hung is, at its heart, an admirably constructed yarn about an average guy who's just looking for a way to keep his head above water.
Ray Drecker (Thomas Jane) is a luckless but likable sort whose grasp on the American dream slipped away right around the time things went south for his hometown of Detroit. His city's deep in recession, his marriage is on the rocks, his career as a high school teacher is unrewarding on every level and his over-mortgaged lakeside home has just been reduced to a pile of charred timbers by an electrical fire.
Oh, and the cheque he was supposed to send to the insurance company was sitting on the coffee table that went up in flames with the rest of the living-room furniture.
Ray's in trouble. Reduced to living in a tent in his back yard while trying to scratch together enough cash to start paying for repairs to his house, he makes a desperate trip one night to the aforementioned self-help session. While listening to the predictable get-rich-quick-by-mining-your-inner-you pitch, he spots a woman named Tanya (Jane Adams) with whom he shared a brief and uneventful fling during his single days.
They chat, they flirt, they rekindle past passions and, after the glow subsides, their unhappy parting leaves both thinking about the one asset Ray possesses that's worth trying to market. What follows is the slow and uneasy creation of a most unusual business partnership, in which both partners recognize the magnitude of the opportunity but neither has the slightest real idea of how to turn a manly asset into a measurable bottom line.
What Hung is, basically, is a gender-reversed spin on another cheeky but charming cable drama, Weeds -- it features a divorced dad instead of a widowed mom, but the financial predicament in each is basically the same, and the need to provide for a couple of teen offspring prompts each show's central player to venture into an illicit business scheme.
For Weeds' Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise Parker), the solution is selling pot; for Ray Drecker, the only available option is selling himself -- or, at least, the part of himself that inches him ahead of the rest of the male population.
Despite occasional bouts of only-on-cable naked flailing, Hung isn't a particularly naughty show. Ray's a (mostly) average guy seeking a way out of a very desperate situation, and his story -- in the abstract if not in the unit-specific -- is one that might seem relatable to anyone who's feeling the pinch in these financially trying times.
Jane is exceedingly likable as Ray, a former high school stud whose all-American dreams long ago crashed and burned, and Adams brings a decidedly loopy charm to Tanya, a poet who suddenly finds herself in the role of pimp. Also worth noting is Anne Heche's effectively annoying turn as Ray's hyper-neurotic ex-wife, Jessica.
The comparisons between Hung and Weeds could turn out to be a blessing or a curse. It all depends how this new effort, er, uh, ah, um, measures up.
Starring Thomas Jane, Anne Heche and Jane Adams
Sunday at 11 p.m.
After three decades spent writing stories, columns and opinion pieces about television, comedy and other pop-culture topics in the paper’s entertainment section, Brad Oswald shifted his focus to the deep-thoughts portion of the Free Press’s daily operation.