Head Case
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Head Case

Normally, it is fairly easy to place a television show into a specific genre. Every so often a series rolls around that just defies categorization. Perhaps it strides across several types of show blending them into something novel. Other times the series comes completely out of left field unlike anything in your experience. One example of such a series is ‘Head Case’. It is, to say the least, one of the strangest things I’ve seen in a very long time. Basically you would have to call it a sit-com since it is a comedy based on some rather strange situations. The circumstances revolve around a psychotherapist, Elizabeth Good remarkably played by Alexandra Wentworth who has a practice in Beverly Hills consisting of well known celebrities. The hook for this series is the actual celebrities play themselves or specifically some bizarre, dark alter ego based on themselves. The do get some notable film and television personalities to appear on the show; this is not a modern day ‘Love Boat’ where fading TV stars go to get one more shot in the public eye. These are mostly people with current, active careers. Right up front it has to be noted that this series is very much an acquired taste. I never caught it before getting the DVD for Volume Two for review. It took a couple of episodes before I could achieve the necessary mind set to get the show and begin to enjoy it. Once I was able to do this and let go of reality I found myself laughing out loud; something I haven’t done with a sit-com in quite awhile. The other premium cable channels like Showtime and HBO have been very successful with their original series for years but it was only the last few years that Starz started to get into the action. With series like this and ‘Crash’ they are getting a reputation for the shows with a freaky twist on the mundane.

This series has an unusual origin. It started as a 15 minute series on Starz that was expanded to a full half hour. After getting into the DVD I made it a point to get a hold of some of them to get some idea of the character’s background. The shorter episodes were naturally tighter and centered on the celebrity sessions. The premise has been expanded to include the lives of the professionals who just happen to be far more messed up than any of their patients. This does come across a bit too much like some twisted soap opera but once again if you give it a chance it happens to be very funny. The creative force behind the series acting as both writer and executive producer is Robert Bauer. He has appeared in a wide variety of TV series from ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’ to ‘Twin Peaks’ as a character actor but this series is his entrance in to the creative aspect of TV. His wide selection of appearances may have helped him make a lot of connections in the industry because it does seem evident that stars are lining up to appear on the series. What makes this even more noteworthy are most of the appearances require a strong ability to engage in extremely self deprecating humor. The alternate universe variation the celebrities portrayed are dark and in many cases bordering on the seriously pathological.

As the season presented here opens Alexandra is preparing to get married to struggling talent agent Jeremy Berger (Rob Benedict). Alexandra is completely obsessing about the pending ceremony allowing it to overshadow her sessions. Her patients can barely get a word in edgewise as Alexandra fantasizes every aspect of the wedding. There is a strange session with singer Macy Gray who rambles on and on about her sexual obsession with President Obama using extremely graphic terms in stating her lusty desires. Alexandra hires a foul mouth, extremely pregnant wedding planner who tries to take over everything. Alexandra’s expectations of the wedding have no foundation in reality. The guest list is packed with ‘A’-list celebrities who have no intention of showing up. She also expects a circus of albino animals and a set of musical acts that the Grammies would be hard pressed to line up. Of course the actual wedding is a dismal failure held on a beach littered with used needles. Alexandra’s marriage doesn’t even make it past the wedding night. Her new husband passed out in their wedding bed and first thing in the morning announces he is leaving her. He saw the guest list sand thinking it was real was hoping to jump start his business. Realizing it was just a fantasy was the last straw. Naturally he tries to take her for half of everything she owns. The other people in the office are just as strange. The other doctor in the office is Myron Finkelstein (Steve Landesberg). He never seems to have any patients which may be why he is constantly half a step ahead of the many people he owes. The office administrator is Lola Buckingham (Michelle Arthur), an overly bossy, amply endowed woman whose every outfit is designed to display her bountiful cleavage. The handy man for the office is Ron Julio (Aris Alvarado) whose missing arm is frequently replaced with a series of make shift items loosely attached to his stump. One of the strangest celebrity patients is Greg Grunberg who takes time off of his work on ‘Heroes’ to stalk Alexandra. He is just incredibly fun to watch here like most of the guest stars. This series is wickedly funny and well worth the time and effort required to get into.

Posted 02/05/2010

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