Friday, September 16, 2005

The New TV Show Review Challenge: Head Cases

Honestly, I wasn't expecting much out of FOX's Head Cases. The premise makes it sound pretty bad. The show is about two lawyers, both former mental patients, who work together. One is prone to panic attacks while the other has explosive disorder. Hilarity is supposed to ensue and surprisingly, it actually does. While the premiere episode moved a little slow at times, Head Cases ended up being fun to watch.

Chris O'Donnell plays Jason Payne, a workaholic big-shot attorney. He doesn't spend enough time with his family and has to fight for a position as partner at a large law firm. He suffers from panic attacks and had been controlling them until one fateful day when everything got to him. He spends two months in an institution and is let go under one condition...that he pair up with a fellow patient to give (and receive) support. Adam Goldberg plays Russell Shultz (or just Shultz to most everybody), a low-rent lawyer who, due to explosive disorder, has issues with his temper. Shultz does things ranging from pulling down his pants and telling a judge to kiss his ass to hitting an opposing lawyer upside the head with a thick book.

Jason thinks that everything will be able to go back to normal, but finds that isn't the case. His wife leaves him and his law firm fires him. He's also consistently annoyed by the antics of Shultz, who in his own strange way is trying to help him. This episode actually features two different cases. Jason helps Schultz represent a nymphomaniac who is fired from her job and Schultz helps Jason get back at his old firm by getting a list of clients and encouraging him to represent the party opposing his old firm. He finds one such party in a model whose husband (his old firm's biggest client) is divorcing her claiming that she broke the prenuptial agreement.

This show was fun to watch. Chris O'Donnell (who I feel I haven't seen in ages) and Adam Goldberg work well together as a comic duo. I don't know if the portrayals of mental illness were particularly accurate (FOX did show a mental health PSA during the show), but the scenes where Jason had panic attacks felt somewhat real. I was also a little intrigued by the relationship Jason has with his family. His wife doesn't seem to hate Jason...she just seems fed up with how he acted in the past. It reminded me of Jim Carrey's situation in the movie Liar Liar except that it's played a little more realistically in this show.

Overall, Head Cases was a lot better than I expected. I'm looking forward to seeing more. However, I'm not sure how long the show will last because it will be going against ABC's Lost. Will that powerhouse destroy this little legal comedy/drama?

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