Monday, April 05, 2010

Packaging FAIL: Or, When Hotness Detracts

In a just world - or at least the same "just world" where dark chocolate has more antioxidant properties than fat grams, and Manny Pacquiao does not have a singing career (oh, wait) - the DVD packaging for that one great season of The Unusuals would've looked a little like this:

Part of the reason why people like me watched The Unusuals (besides the slight chance of seeing Jeremy Renner with no clothes on) was that it was an honest-to-goodness ensemble show. No single character or actor dominated the show; everyone had the chance to steal a scene or two, and the stories were quirky without being way too precious - like Pushing Daisies, but with more guns and less pastry.

So it comes as no surprise that I'm not alone in decrying the actual DVD packaging for this series:

The Unusuals ( Exclusive)

Repeat after me: The Unusuals was an ensemble show. ENSEMBLE SHOW.

It was never about Mr. Studly Cop (Who Happens To Look Like The Guy From The Hurt Locker) and His Damsel In Distress Partner (Who Used To Talk To God) - it was about a crazy precinct full of deeply troubled characters, each of them fleshed out beautifully between the writers, actors, and all-around episode direction in general. The relationship between Walsh (Renner) and Casey (Amber Tamblyn) was actually as platonic as it got on television; Walsh was already sleeping with somebody else in the precinct, and Casey was a rich kid in the middle of an ongoing love/hate relationship with a family lawyer (or was it her former trust-fund manager?) who looked like Don Draper Jr., so it was closer to an office bromance than a Soulmate/ One True Love OMG!!! pairing.

Side note - and spoiler alert for those of you who didn't watch: One of my favorite episodes has Casey scheduling a date with Draper Jr. [my nickname for the character], which becomes disastrous for both of them as the day's events lead to a violent shootout. The end of the episode has Casey going to Draper Jr.'s apartment first thing in the morning with a box of pastries and this declaration: "I came here to have sex with you. Now get out of my way." Clear, direct, to-the-point... and surprising enough for me to not want her to end up with Walsh.

That the packaging would emphasize the pretty "leads" and leave out the rest of the excellent cast - up to and including Adam Goldberg and Harold "WALT!" Perrineau - is annoying, if not downright criminal.


Anyway, I am of two minds about the way The Unusuals ended: On one hand, I was sad to see this show get unceremoniously cancelled without having a chance to say goodbye - or at least steer everyone to the inevitable moment where everything and everyone blows up, irrevocably. On the other hand, there's probably a good reason why it ended when it did; maybe it was a good thing that we we didn't have to watch the TPTB-mandated hookup scene with Renner and Tamblyn, just as we probably would not have survived watching the Goldberg and Perrineau characters face their (seemingly) inevitable deaths.

Perhaps, like the last remaining episodes of Pushing Daisies, it was better to end things unfinished, just so the rest of us could fill in the blanks as we pleased.

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