Looking for something meaty on Netflix to devour? Sample the insanity of ‘The Kominsky Method’.
The star and executive producer of The Kominsky Method, Michael Douglas, was featured on a recent episode of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, where he reflected on his career. To him, things got off the ground when he was appearing in 104 episodes of The Streets of San Francisco, but he was one of only a few actors (Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood) who had successfully made the jump from series regular to successful film actor. For the longest time, television was the domain of the washed-up actor, them for whom the box office figures were dwindling, and desperation had set in.
Times change. Now everyone from Douglas, Jane Fonda and Julia Roberts (to name a few) have found that there’s quality to be found in the small screen – it seems to be the way of the future, thanks to the work being done by HBO, Showtime and Netflix. Douglas’ return to the small screen is on the heels of the aforementioned new eight-part series, The Kominsky Method. In it, he plays an acting teacher in LA; single, ageing, still inquisitive, but resigned to a number of hard facts about the passage of time.
It’s a really good piece of work. Smart, funny, and thanks to Douglas being paired on screen with Alan Arkin (who makes everything he’s in better), a lesson in note-perfect comic delivery. This is Douglas’ show, no doubt, and it’s overseen by the deft hand of Chuck Lorre, a man whose empire was built around multi-cam sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory, Mom and Two and a Half Men. The difference here being that you have a couple of well-seasoned pros in the frame, and laughs are generated out of delivery and timing, rather than on cue before a live studio audience. We’re not in catchphrase comedy world here, and even in the pilot Lorre gets a few cheap shots in at his own expense. Arkin nails every single one of his lines in a note-perfect, droll manner, in a part which requires that certain level of Jewish sardonic dismissiveness, and blends it occasionally with genuine pathos.
The show’s central thesis is an exploration of ageing and friendship among men. One is widowed, the other a Lothario whose body is no longer up to the task it once was. Romance peeks its way into their lives, but these two men hovering in their seventies and eighties will attest, there may not be the fire in the loins there once was.
Much of The Kominsky Method plays like a film broken into eight parts, rather than a conventional single camera comedy series. So, it really does feel like a segmented, three-hour movie. And where Woody Allen attempted and failed at this in his Crisis in Six Scenes, The Kominsky Method succeeds in that it invites a second season.