Saturday, October 18, 2008

TV REVIEW: "My Own Worst Enemy"

I know what you're thinking. It's been quite some time since anyone has mentioned Christian Slater as anything other than a Page Six reference, so it's a little weird that he's now the lead in his own spy series. All signs point to major failure, kitsch, and absurdity--kind of like "The Knight Rider" remake--but I'm saying it aint so.

In the pilot, we learn that not only is Edward a spy who works for a Bond-M-like lady named Marvis (Alfre Woodard), but he's a volunteer for a government experiment that develops an alternate personality that serves as your everyday cover. So instead of giving their agents a fake passport, a nice condo in the middle of Nowheresville, USA, and the freedom to date sporadically to keep up appearances, they gave them an alternate identity that makes them appear completely normal, because it doesn't know it's not real. This it I'm referring to is named Henry and he's existed for the last 19 years. He only realized that he was the manifestation of millions of dollars of technology that switches him on and off like a blender and scrambles his consciousness, making him think that those memories of traveling through Paris and making love to a mysterious woman was all a dream, after he...let's call it "resurfaced" in the middle of a hit that Edward was supposed to perform. After the rescue extraction by his co-worker Tom (Mike O'Malley from "Yes, Dear"), who volunteered for the same program, he is debriefed and shoved back into his world with new eyes. What do you do after someone tells you you're just a figment of someone's imagination--someone cooler and in total possession of your body a majority of the time?

Henry had a totally normal reaction. He rifled through Edward's things, trying to get to know him, cause he clearly would never get to meet him. Soon we discover that Edward used to play football, his parents died in a car accident, he joined the army, was given the Medal of Honor, and he "died." He is by all definitions an all-American hero. Of course, when we see Edward, he just seems like a burnt out, hungover hounddog. He's like a weathered 60-year-old in a 40-year-old's body. All of the evil in the world has turned him into a pessimist, so much so that the only reason he agreed to the experiment was to prove there's such a thing as free will, and he certainly is proving it. Never before has the system had a glitch, where a personality would resurface without being called upon. Both sides are fighting to inhabit the same mind--and what a mind it is.

Where Edward certainly has his strengths, knowing something like 13 languages and several combat techniques, Henry seems to be adept as well. He has this method where he tries to solve a problem by accepting what he believes to be true even though it's impossible. So when he went to his super hot therapist (who I think is in on it) and described his dream, he accepted it as having really happened, in order to work his way to the truth. And when the men who are trying to kill Edward, came to kidnap him, he accepted the idea that he had two personalities, even though it seemed unlikely. Henry probably wouldn't have had to do that if Marvis didn't erase his memory of the last few days to protect the project, believing the glitch to have been fixed. But it seems that if Henry wants to exist, he's either going to have to convince Marvis to train him so that he won't be inept if he resurfaces in Edward's world or he's going to have to trick her into thinking he's Edward all the time. As for now, she doesn't seem in any hurry to terminate him.

I'm most interested in seeing Edward interact with Henry's kids, which are technically his kids. We've already seen him ravish Henry's wife, to Henry's dismay, which lead to a cute exchange at the end where Henry left him a scolding video recording. I'd love to see more of that--them get under each other's skin to speak. Henry already crossed the line apparently when he drove Edward's car. It's kind of like putting two completely opposite twin brothers who've never met in the same room and then telling them to get along. I have high hopes that this show will do well at least for the first few episodes. We'll see where they go from here.

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