Television Show: Dirt
Time: 10:00 p.m. Thursday
For devotees of the former NBC comedy Friends, now in syndication, who hope to get a chance to see Courtney Cox as another Monica-esque character, perhaps you better not watch Dirt. There is no resemblance whatsoever to the sweet, vulnerable creature Cox played on her former show and if that’s what you hope to find on her new FX drama, you will be disappointed..
Cox portrays Lucy Spiller, the editor-in-chief of two successful tabloid magazines, out to get the story of celebrities at any price. She tries very hard to play the character as hard and ruthless. Although everything appears to be sleek, slick and steamy, it’s going to take some doing for viewers to fully believe Cox in this part.
In the January 4th premiere, Lucy Spiller convinces an ambitious film actor, played by Josh Stewart, formerly of Third Watch, to get the goods on a female star, in exchange for a fluff piece on him in one of her magazines. When the female star in question is devastated after the tabloid reveals her out-of-wedlock pregnancy, the distraught woman attempts suicide and later dies in the hospital.
Another character that is only briefly introduced is a married basketball star, played by Rick Fox, who Spiller anonymously sends photos to that show him in a compromising position with another woman. I suppose this is art imitating life as Fox, a former Boston Celtics player, was himself caught in similar circumstances, when a tabloid revealed photos of him being way too friendly with another female. His spouse at the time- actress/singer Vanessa Williams- was evidently not amused and divorced him soon after. I don’t see this role as being particularly intriguing, since athletic stars who tip on their wives are so common that few people even raise an eyebrow.
The weirdest character thus far, however, is played by Ian Hart. As a member of the paparazzi, who hides up in trees to catch celebrities at their secret naughtiest, his character Don also happens to be schizophrenic. He hears voices in his head, to which he responds. I can’t tell whether the scene in which he goes to the drug store to pick up his medication is supposed to be bizarre or funny. He imagines that he sees a woman’s face on the back of a store patron’s head, demanding that he kiss her and before he can pucker up for his imaginary friend, it’s his turn in line. He even shows up at Lucy Spiller’s door with his dead cat strapped on. I can”t quite figure out the point of his character, but at least he’s more interesting than anybody else on Dirt..
Since this series is on FX, you can be certain that things are going to get even raunchier and more controversial in weeks to come. After all, this is the same network that gave the world Nip/Tuck, so you know that they will be pushing the sleaze factor as far as they can take it.
Realistically, it’s going to take a bit of persuasion for viewers who loved Cox as Monica to adjust to her as a nasty, hard-hearted monster. Sitcom stars who attempt to escape from the “nice” characters they are better known for, by playing their polar opposites, usually find it difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish this successfully.
I am not a fan of “shock dramas” and Dirt tries way too hard to prove it belongs to this genre. In its aim to draw in fans by promising to be trashy and flashy, this show only succeeds in coming across like one of those cheesy 1970’s films based on some Jacqueline Susann novel.