Trust Me - An early look - VIDEO
by Bob Sassone, posted Jan 22nd 2009 11:57AM
I will guess that a lot of people think that the reason why we have another cable drama set in the world of advertising is because of the success of AMC's Mad Men. And while the honors that the 60s-based show probably gave TNT execs an extra reason to look at Trust Me and put its production into overdrive, the show has actually been in the works for a while.
The comparisons are going to come though. The shows are very different. Judging from the first two episodes, they're not only different in setting (2009 Chicago vs. 1960 NYC) and tone (faster paced, with more obvious humor than Mad Men), they're not really going for anything deep or tackling any big issues.
First, the good news: the show has a good and familiar cast of favorites. Will and Grace's Eric McCormack and Ed's Tom Cavanagh play best friends and partners at a Chicago ad agency (Mason is the creative director, Conner is the writer and idea guy). They're best buds and really close and work together too, so there are the usual tensions that come with that. Mason is married with a kid, Connor is single and looks to get laid wherever he can.
In the first two episodes anyway, Conner isn't very likable. Imagine Ed from Ed or Tom from Love Monkey, only acting like he spends $500 a week on coke and can't stop moving around or saying wacky things really rapidly. That's Conner. He's much easier to take and you root for him when he settles down a bit. It's also interesting how all of Cavanagh's characters seem the same. I don't mean that as a put down of his acting, I'm talking about what he wears and what he drinks. The characters he plays in all of his shows always have a cup of coffee in their hand and always wear a briefcase bag across their chest. I think there's something cool about that.
Now, some bad news: Jason O'Mara (Life on Mars) makes a surprise cameo as Mason and Connor's boss. He is horrifyingly bad in the role. I don't know if it's him or if it's because the tone and rhythm of the first episode is all over the place, but it really stands out, and not in a good way. Thank God he dies in the first episode.
Remember Harriet Hayes from Studio 60? If you hated her, you'll love to hate Sarah Kraijeck-Hunter. I don't get her character at all. I think we're supposed to find her maddening yet lovable, but the latter isn't really apparent yet. Maybe that will happen in later episodes. Mike Damus and Geoffrey Arend play the guys in the office who comment on everything, make wisecracks, and are jealous of the new copywriter. These characters aren't really fully developed yet, they're really just used as a device to comment on what the other characters are doing, but again, I hope that will change in future episodes. Griffin Dunne is good as the top guy in the office.
The first episode introduces all of the characters (with helpful onscreen graphics) and throws the agency into a big ad campaign that causes problems. The second episode continues the story from the first episode by having the new client unhappy with the tagline that Conner came up with. When you see what the tagline is at the end of the first episode you're probably going to have the same reaction as I (and focus groups in the episode) had. That's exactly what people would think it would mean.
This is a good show. It's not a great show yet, but it's highly enjoyable, and if you like the world of advertising (like me) you'll love the scenes that show how the group comes up with ideas for ad campaigns and deal with clients and rivals. Mad Men fans won't automatically like it just because it's set in the same world, but it's a good show in its own way. It debuts on January 26 at 10pm. Below is a quick look at the show.