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My Own Worst Enemy Fails To Live Up to Admittedly Meager Expectations

Illustration for article titled My Own Worst Enemy Fails To Live Up to Admittedly Meager Expectations

My favorite episode in the 10-year run of Alfred Hitchcock's famous anthology series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, is "The Case of Mr. Pelham." It concerns a man being stalked by a person who he believes to be his double. By turns frightening and utterly insane, the drama builds with just a few sets and actors. And that's what I was dreaming of as I viewed the new NBC Christian Slater vehicle, My Own Worst Enemy. Click on to explore Hitchcock's masterpiece and our review of tomorrow night's pilot.Click to view Premiering tomorrow night on NBC and available right now on iTunes, My Own Worst Enemy is a hard show to recommend. Set at A.J. Sun Consulting (who no doubt have an office located right next to Massive Dynamic somewhere in TV land), Slater's two personalities - Henry Spivey and Edward Albright - are managed by a crack team including Alfre Woodard, comedian Mike O'Malley, and Wing Commander's Safron Burrows. Slater's Henry-Edward combo may not be that far away from Robert Louis Stevenson's original story The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in terms of name and concept, but the pilot captured nothing of the frightening prospect of Stevenson's struggle against losing ourself to evil. The main problem so far is that the two characters aren't even all that different. The distinctions consist primarily of their respective automobile's country of origin - everything else, including the relative beauty and attitude of their sexual partners, is in line. It's frustrating to see no evidence of the supposedly mean and snarly version of 39 year old Slater, although surely we'll be able to tell the difference between them other than by how much Slater is squinting, right?

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Illustration for article titled My Own Worst Enemy Fails To Live Up to Admittedly Meager Expectations

There's no telling exactly what audience the Slater version is courting; My Own Worst Enemy is somewhere between the last soul-killing season of 24 and Mission Impossible, only without the budget for awesome face-mimicking masks. The visual composition of the show is really its only appeal, so expect the show's action elements to try to win viewers with big 'splosions while the little details get lost.

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DISCUSSION

You're definitely swimming against the critical tide here, at least based on my highly unscientific sampling method - every advance review I've read is 95% praise to 5% reservations. It's good to see a contrary opinion, but frankly, your review here is pretty slim by io9's standards. What do you mean, for example, by the comment about the budget in the last paragraph? I've read that the pilot was made with a sizable budget and high production values - is that what you're referring to by its 'visual composition'?

Also, why discuss the show by leading with a Hitchcock Presents clip and then not including a clip from the pilot? I would have loved to see thirty seconds of Christian Slater over- or underacting his way through a scene. Worst of all, you tell us nothing about the show aside from the fact that it stars Christian Slater, he apparently has two personalities that drive different cars, and Saffron Burrows 'manages' him. If I didn't come to this review already equipped with some information, I would have almost no idea what the show was about. You don't even mention the basic hook, which involves the fact that Slater's split personalities start becoming aware of each others' existence and living each others' lives. What you describe is the status quo, which is inherently not very dramatic, even if the status quo is all spies and split personalities. It's the disintegration of that status quo which propels the story. Maybe they handle that disintegration really badly, but again, how would we know from this piece?

Just as you're not sure what audience the show is courting, I can't tell if this is supposed to be a proper review of the show or not, even though you call it a review. Since it hasn't gone to air yet, maybe the lack of detail springs from your reticence to reveal too much about the episode, but it's possible to write something with depth and flair that still avoids spoilers. Without more attention paid to the show itself, it's also hard to credit your disappointment in MOWE's failure to live up to Hitchcock and Robert Louis Stevenson. Leaving aside the fact that these hardly seem like fair comparisons, it would have been great to get more detail on how you saw MOWE contributing or failing to contribute to the themes that its predecessors have tackled.