Posted in: Disc Reviews by M. W. Phillips on October 4th, 2011
“I am in the oldest profession in the world.”
Ray (Thomas Jane) is a middle-aged divorcee knocked to his knees by the recession. His home is fire-damaged, he lives in a tent in his backyard, the school he works for as a coach keeps slashing his department’s funding and threatening layoffs, he’s still in love with his neurotic ex-wife, Jessica (Anne Heche) and is struggling as a single father to raise social-misfit teen twins, Damon (Charlie Saxton) and Darby (Sianoa Smit-McPhee). In Season One, he met Tanya (Jane Adams) and she convinced him to use his natural gifts (read well-endowed penis) as a male prostitute with her and her sociopathic frenemy, Lenore (Rebecca Creskoff) as his pimps. Together they would be “Happiness Consultants”, bringing joy to lonely, middle-aged women around Detroit.
It’s a great premise that, combined with very likable performance from Thomas Jane, kept me tuning in for the entire first season waiting for the comedic or dramatic payoff. Unfortunately, show creators Colette Burson and Dmitry Lipkin didn’t pull it off. Hung: Season One turned out dreadfully slow, neither funny nor dramatic, just really depressing. It was kind of like paying for sex from someone who looks sexy, but has no idea beyond that how to satisfy a client.
So how did season two work out? About the same, with very few laughs, poorly written supporting characters, subplots that go nowhere, and just some intensely icky moments with the twins really left me limp.
Jane’s Ray is still easily the best part of the show. Tanya is so annoying, due to the writing, you find yourself wincing through her scenes as she grates on everyone’s nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard. Lenore ends up such a one-note antagonist, you go from hating her to just wanting her scenes to end. Jessica is still so neurotic and mousy you can’t see what Ray ever saw in her, much less why he still pines for her. The one-note gag of the twins being so physically, emotionally and socially unlike their parents tends to rip you out of any family scenes as your brain involuntarily plays the game one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other. Unfortunately, Hung completely wastes the talents of Gregg Henry as Ray’s best friend/assistant coach, as well as Lennie James as Tanya’s street pimp advisor. Though Henry does inject a little pathos into the season with his desperate, second chance love affair and James actually scores a few laughs (far too few) with his streetwise “pimpin’ and hoin’” philosophy.
Hung: The Complete Second Season‘s 1080p/MPEG 4 AVC-encoded video presentation runs an average of 30 Mbps in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Colors are bright and flesh tones are natural for the most part, but tend to be a bit warm, leaning toward pink in some of the interior shots. Shadow delineation and black stability stay strong, but some of the night scenes fall a little flat. Fine textures and close ups are sharp, crisp and detailed.
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack delivers clear dialog and immersive surround for a dialog centered dramedy. The music/SFX and dialog mixes remain evenly balanced. There is little use of the LFE channel, but that makes sense given the intimate nature of the show. Nothing showy, just excellently crafted sound.
The extras are in 1.78:1; 1080i/60 HD with DTS 2.0 audio tracks. The audio commentaries are your typical, dull, “this is where we shot it” and “isn’t that actor great” ramblings.
- Audio Commentary on Episode 1 “Just the Tip” with creators/executive producers Colette Burson and Dimitry Lipkin
- Audio Commentary on Epsode 4 “Sing it Again, Ray” or “Home Plate” with creators/executive producers Colette Burson and Dimitry Lipkin and writer Brett C Leonard
- Audio Commentary on Episode 7 “ The Middle East is Complicated” with creators/executive producers Colette Burson and Dimitry Lipkin and writers Brett Leonard and Kyle Peck
- Audio Commentary on Episode 8 “Third Base” or “That Rash” with creators/executive producers Colette Burson and Dmitry Lipkin and writer Julia Brownell
- Audio commentary on Episode 9 “Fat Off My Love” or “I’m the Allergen” with creators/executive producers Colette Burson and Dmitry Lipkin and writer Angela Robinson
- Hung: Inside the Series (13:27) Burson and Lipkin host a decent breakdown of the characters via clips and anecdotes.
- Deleted Scenes (16:00) for diehard fans only.
I really want to like Hung. I get that it is essentially a chick flick, fantasy series, but that isn’t what hurts it. Most damning is the fact that none of these characters are moving forward. At the end of the season, things are pretty much where they were at the beginning of season one. Sure, we see the further deterioration of Jessica’s marriage to her new husband Ronnie (Eddie Jemison) which fuels Ray’s hopes of getting back together with her, but nothing really comes of it. Even the school baseball team subplot ends in limbo. Although not quite as depressing as the debut season, it is still is a bit of a downer. I shouldn’t feel like I need antidepressants after watching a comedy. Is it horrible? No. It’s just a whole lot of meh.
“My name is Tanya. I am a poet, a temp, and a pimp.”