Thursday, September 22, 2016

‘Notorious’ is Notoriously Bad in Many Ways

Review of ABC's "Notorious."
Daniel Sunjata and Piper Perabo in Notorious. (ABC)
TV SHOW REVIEW
On NBC’s new show This is Us, one character plays an actor who realizes that the TV show he works on is terrible and goes on a rant to a live audience saying something like, “Shame to Hollywood for making this show and shame to you, the audience, for watching it and making me famous.” Those are my sentiments for ABC’s new Thursday night show, Notorious. The show, which clearly a Shondra Rhymes’ copycat, is frustrating on so many levels. Every character is beautiful, dresses to the nines, live in beautiful apartments and have lots of sex. The producers must feel that they are providing a fantasy service and believe that none of us are interested in morals anymore. By the way, this show is brought to you by the same network that just cancelled the summer show, Mistresses which shockingly was not up for any Emmys this year.

Piper Perabo plays Julia George, a TV news producer who has a partnership with Jake Gregorian (Daniel Sunjata) a defense attorney setting things up for spectacular breaking news stories. The pilot opens with Julia having sex in her office with her boyfriend whom she hasn’t seen for a few days. She tells him that they can never do that again. As she prepares for that night’s show, on in just a few minutes, she checks in on the show’s host Louise Herrick (Kate Jennings Grant) who is busy “entertaining” some random guy in her dressing room. Louise is good at her job on the air, but in “real life” she’s disgusting. She acts like a queen and treats Julia and others as her subjects to drop everything to buy her condoms at a moment’s notice. She’s too famous to do the deed herself. I’m sure Diane Sawyer will be thrilled to see how the show paints news anchors and I’m shocked that Katie Couric agreed to do a cameo appearance (albeit small) in the pilot. Granted, this fictional news show airs on LHL, a cable news channel and Louise Herrick Live is similar to the Nancy Grace show, so there is some distance between the show and ABC’s World News Tonight, but still, they all work for the same team.


Fortunately, Notorious doesn’t focus much attention on Louise’s character. Instead, it centers on Julia and Jake’s friendship/business arrangement and their complicated love lives outside of the office which of course muddles with their work in the office as well. They have one rule while working together – that they will never lie to each other. Unfortunately, other characters in the series didn’t get the memo. One employee snaps at another for pretending to be interested in her at a bar only to find out that he was just digging for information. She accuses him of using her. He says that maybe she will find a reason to use him sometime. She counters with “what would I need to use you for?” turns, and then smiles as she walks away. Yep, these two are going to hook up in a future episode.
 

Weirdly, Julia and Jake act more like cops than their actual occupations knocking on people’s doors and interrogating the occupants inside. (They must get paid a lot since these two are never home.) Like magic their employees who miraculously dig up dirt on high profile celebrities, business professionals as well as Jake’s clients using whatever means necessary to feed the news show. Guests are welcomed onto the show only to be blindsided with new information live on the air. Threats of humiliation work well. Yes, they’re all a “notorious” bunch.
 

The pilot episode feels like they condensed five weeks of soap opera drama into about 45 minutes. The show is terrible and yet, will probably do well given America’s appetite for such fare. Maybe, hopefully I’m wrong. Sigh.

Notorious premieres on September 22 at 9:00 p.m. on ABC.

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