I’m going to start this review with a double entendre, in the hopes that it will get the urge out of the way. Here goes: The “Hung” premiere last night was longer than I thought it would be.
*Phew* Glad that’s over with! Although I guess I should explain it. The series premiere ran about 45 minutes long, but it’s going to be a 30 minute series from here on out. I’m actually a little disappointed in that. Unlike, say, “Entourage,” which is just barely tolerable at 20-plus minutes a week, “Hung” seems to have enough talent, humor, and drama to sustain an hour run time.
Thomas Jane plays Ray Stark, a divorced Detroit high school teacher and basketball coach with teenage twins and a house that has barely survived a fire. He’s broke, and after an attempt to get some money from his ex-wife (played by Anne Heche) he goes to a get-rich-quick seminar where the instructor–in a turn of phrase that’s just a little too cute given the show’s premise–tells his students that everyone has a money-making “tool” inside of them. Or, in Ray’s case, slightly outside of him. Realizing his only winning asset is his big dick, he decides to start moonlighting as a gigolo.
Thomas Jane is an actor who hasn’t really impressed me in the past, outside of his role as the male stripper in the similarly-themed Boogie Nights. But his inherent blandness suits him well here, as Ray Stark is supposed to be somewhat boring; a man approaching middle-age whose glory days are far behind him, and has nothing much to show for it. The pilot episode, which was directed by Alexander Payne, includes a lot of narration, and Jane does a good job with it, offering droll commentary on his own life. (He also utilizes the word “fucker” quite well.)
The premise of someone engaging in less-than legal means in order to make ends meet seems to have growing popularity in these economically challenging times, (see “Weeds” and “Breaking Bad”), but it can be argued that “Hung”‘s illegal activity is a true victimless crime, especially since Stark’s volunteer pimp, Tanya, (played by Jane Adams) isn’t exactly someone to be feared. It looks like the dramatic threat that will follow Stark this season is whether he can keep his secret identity a secret, but with an ex-wife who seems to already hate him, a job he already seems to hate, and two kids that don’t really seem like they’d give a shit if their dad was having sex for money, I’m not sure how much dramatic tension that will lend. For now, just watching Ray (or “Donnie,” as he names his altar-ego) master his special purpose should be entertainment enough. After all, it’s not destination, it’s the journey.
And it’s not the size of the boat, it’s the motion of the ocean.
“Hung” airs Sundays at 10 P.M. in HBO. A new episode will air July 12th.