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October 10, 2015

Dirt: Welcome to Normal (season premiere)

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Mar 2nd 2008 11:01PM

Courteney Cox as Lucy Spiller and Ryan Eggold as Farber Kauffman in the 'Dirt' season two premiere.
(S02E01) "No honey, I love the pudding. You can have the applesauce." - Lucy

Lucy Spiller is back! Hold your breath though because those stab wounds she received from Julia Mallory in last season's Dirt finale must've taken away some of her trademark bitchiness. Lucy, while still 100% dedicated and obsessed with her job as editor of Dirt Now magazine, is a lot nicer than I remember her to be. Is that a bad thing though?

Not necessarily. Since only seven episodes were completed before the writers' strike, this season has essentially been cut in half with the remaining six on FX's "let's wait and see" list. That being said, the show has abandoned the serial format that it adopted during the first season and if you think about it, this proved to be a smart move considering how things have turned out. Had a giant, season long plot been implemented, it's pretty unlikely that episode seven (the default finale) would have provided any sort of cliffhanger or closure.

So now we have a nicer, more understanding Lucy Spiller and believe it or not -- it works. The difference? She's workin' it day by day. I had the opportunity to speak with Courteney Cox a few weeks ago and she assured fans that all seven episodes are self-contained.

I like what that means for this season. What better way to address the notion of a supermarket tabloid rag than by having a show based on one implement individual episodes that feel more like individual issues. If you ask me, this is what the show was originally intended to be and it ended up straying as far as possible from that idea.

So what does unify the season? Well there are still plenty of celebrity headlines to spearhead and the premiere tackled some recent ones via the introductions of Sharlee Cates (think Britney Spears) and Martina Lynn (think Anna Nicole Smith). While I think we can expect to see both characters in future episodes, don't think of it as being serial, but rather the latest headline for their most recent boneheaded antics. I'm curious to see how true Martina follows the actual events of Smith's life. If so, she won't be around much longer.

One of the more interesting choices this season is to have Don Konkey on medication. It would seem that his schizophrenic personality is being toned down a bit. As much as I enjoyed his freak-outs and conversations with cats in season one, you still have to admit that it was frequently out of place. I'm all for Don being more normal as long as it doesn't affect the humor when he does the "previously on Dirt" recaps. Those were great last season.

More thoughts on the premiere...

  • So it's official: Julia Mallory is dead. Leo killed her when he drove into Lucy's driveway. I wonder how long it will be before he shows back up though? I'm sure he's seen the news and knows that Julia made an attempt on his sister's life. Plus, what he did was an accident. I'm sure that can be proven. So the real question is how much he values his anonymity. He probably does realize he can get off, but if he returns, Lucy and everyone else is going to want an exclusive with the man who killed Julia Mallory.
  • I'm glad "Don Konkey" vs. "Donkey Kong" was addressed finally. It was hilarious that Don was almost prepared to say that his name was missing the G.
  • I'm not sure how I feel about Farber Kauffman. Was a new writer really required? Ignoring the fact that his introduction and subsequent hiring in Lucy's hospital room was really forced, what's he going to bring to the show? So far, he's just someone for Willa to bounce ideas off of.
  • And speaking of Willa, she's nicer too! She even conceded to Lucy that the job of editor is harder than it looks. I'm not sure I agree with this direction though. If Lucy is nicer, then make Willa more ruthless! Those two are supposed to be at each others necks as Willa tries to undermine Lucy and gun for her job. Now they're buddies?
  • I like the role reversal between Don and Lucy. He's taking care of her now. I'm not sure that'll last long though.

One moment really stood out for me though and it's paramount to the success of this season. Remember that scene where Farber and Willa were talking and he was going on and on about proper writing style and Willa was trying to explain how to write something for the Dirt readers... or something like that? The point she was making is that it had to be dumbed down. Now you could make the argument that this is precisely what was happened to the show, dropping the serial format. Personally, I think this was a good choice. The show is about a tabloid after all. As much as I enjoyed last season, why continue to try and make Dirt something that it's not?

Do you think Dirt's new self-contained formula will work?
Totally. Now it really feels like a sleazy tabloid!85 (61.2%)
Now way! Bring back the serial format and season long plot!54 (38.8%)

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I have to say that i like the "nicer, more understanding" Lucy...at least for now. I definitely thought it worked in this episode. The thing that im the most intrigued by though i think is Don Konkley on medication, should be interesting to see where they go with that...

Can't wait to see how many celebrity parallels they make. just from the previews, it seems like there are gonna be a ton. I saw a preview yesterday that i liked where they are clearly referring to the Olsen twins cause they called them "malnourished twins", haha

March 03 2008 at 4:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And what the hell is up with the new intro and theme song? The one from season 1 was WAY better then this crap.. I was really looking forward to season 2, since i was a big fan of the first, but so far im pretty disipointed!.. But im still going to keep turning in just to see whats what and if it gets better.. Even if it doesent get better im probley gonna watch the rest of it aswell! :D

March 03 2008 at 3:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Bad thing? Maybe yes. I have to say I really love the First Season of Dirt. It has great acting, organized and touching storyline, amazing plot and everything that you find interesting in a show you will defiantly find it in 'Dirt Season 1':
http://dealstudio.com/searchdeals.php?deal_id=87832&ru=279 , and I can not wait for season 2 now!

March 03 2008 at 6:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"So now we have a nicer, more understanding Lucy Spiller and believe it or not -- it works."

No, it does not. At least the first two episodes totally lack bite... And I neither liked how the cliffhangers were "resolved" (meaning hardly addressed) nor what the major characters turned into. I liked the dark, gritty and depressive way of season one. I am especially fond of longer story arcs that don't wrap up in 40 minutes. They allow the introduction of characters with depth and give time to explore them. The way it is now, I am pretty bored and quite frankly annoyed.
I'm afraid what might happen is this: Loyal viewers of season one tune out, because it's not "their" show anymore and new viewers won't tune in because who starts with season two (and maybe not that many people are interested in the tabloid-setting anyway)...

March 03 2008 at 5:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Primal's comment

I have to agree with most of what you're saying. I mean, Season 1 was pretty heavy but I loved almost all of it. I could have done without Don's crazy talking cats, and most of his weird schizo freakouts in general, but they were interesting, and different for the most part, so I give it that. But this just felt different, I mean, I loved that Lucy's first word was 'Cover.' And I get that she's all 'different' after her near-death experience, but it still doesn't seem right. Having said that though, I did enjoy the episode, and I liked the introduction of a new competitor, but like Jonathon I'm not really a fan of Farber.

And I have the same exact worry about viewership, which, once again, puts this show in doubt about it's future. And that sucks.

March 03 2008 at 10:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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