Featured Post

Letterboxd Reviews

So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

TV Review - Crisis in Six Scenes

Crisis in Six Scenes
Starring Woody Allen, Elaine May, Miley Cyrus, John Magaro, and Rachel Brosnahan
Directed by Woody Allen
***This show is currently streaming via Amazon Prime***
I preface many of my Woody Allen reviews with the notion that I've discovered the auteur's work within the past decade, so I'm not really aware of all the movies that he released during the 1970s/80s which most people would deem his best era of work.  I mention this only to say that while I enjoy Woody Allen, I don't hold him up on some pedestal, like some may.  His work in the new millennium is certainly a crapshoot with some films being quite good and some being quite bad. Unfortunately, Allen's first foray into episodic television falls into the latter category as Crisis in Six Scenes feels more like a disappointing two-hour movie broken up into 22-minute segments than a tv show.

Ultimately, it's that lack of "tv feel" that is one of the biggest hindrances to the success of Crisis in Six Scenes.  When formulating a tv show -- even if it's a tv show that has an overarching storyline over the course of its season -- individual episodes tend to have a sense of encapsulation.  Sure, if the "A" storyline runs throughout the season, there's at least a "B" or "C" storyline that wraps up in a comedy's 22 minutes or a drama's 44 minutes on network, cable, or streaming tv.  Here, Woody Allen has none of that.  He has literally just chopped up a movie into segments for a tv show.  Given the streaming format of this show (via Amazon Prime) where all episodes are available at one time, Allen's technique makes no sense whatsoever because he's essentially gipped Amazon out of a tv series and and really just delivered a movie.  I don't think it was Allen trying to reinvent the wheel or try something "different," it was simply that he had no concept of how to craft a television comedy so he wrote a movie and just chopped it up into twenty minute piecemeal segments.

It's not simply Allen's lack of television prowess that hinders Crisis in Six Scenes from working.  Frankly, it's just not all that funny.  Taking place in the 1960s, Allen plays Sidney J. Munsinger, a novelist who has decided to try his hand at writing for television (so meta).  His wife Kay (Elaine May) is a marriage counselor who works out of their fancy home in the fancy suburbs of New York City.  While life is pleasant enough for the aging couple, things begin to spin out of control when hippie revolutionary Lennie Dale (Miley Cyrus) shows up on their doorstep looking for refuge after she fashioned a prison break to escape from jail.  Incarcerated for a radical protest bombing (this is a comedy, remember), Lennie has come to the Munsinger household because when she was a child she had a relationship with Kay and hopes that the elderly Kay will protect her now.

This doesn't sit well with Sidney and in Sidney, Woody Allen's typical neurotic Jewish schtick shines through.  Allen is actually fine, though.  He's playing the same character I've seen him play in everything so if you buy into that -- which I do -- you'll find the series tolerable.  His interactions with his wife Kay as she slowly starts to buy into Lennie's radical philosophies are the best parts of the show.  But unfortunately, there's not much else that Crisis in Six Scenes has going for it.  Miley Cyrus simply isn't a good enough actress to feel believable as the 1960s revolutionary, although, in her defense, she's not exactly gifted a great role.  The rest of Allen's story here feels stretched out in order to accommodate the series' six episode runtime than actually benefit the production.

Sure, there are moments of cleverness and I laughed a few times, but Crisis in Six Scenes is really a bit of a mess.  I was looking forward to this show for some reason and I admittedly binge-watched it over the course of two late nights (so I wasn't inherently turned off by what I saw to stop watching after two episodes), but it was a pretty big disappointment.

No comments:

Post a Comment