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TV Review: The Kominsky Method

The Kominsky Method, TV Review, Drama, Comedy, Netflix, Michael Douglas, Nancy Travis, Chuck Lorre, Alan Arkin

SYNOPSIS: The sun isn’t setting yet on the once famous Sandy Kominsky and his longtime agent Norman Newlander. Academy Award® Winners Michael Douglas (Kominsky) and Alan Arkin (Newlander) star as two friends tackling life’s inevitable curveballs as they navigate their later years in Los Angeles, a city that values youth and beauty. Both comedic and emotional, The Kominsky Method is an 8-episode, half-hour single camera show created by 8-time Emmy Award Nominee Chuck Lorre.

The Kominsky Method, TV Review, Drama, Comedy, Netflix, Michael Douglas, Nancy Travis, Chuck Lorre, Alan Arkin

REVIEW: There are few television series I dislike as much as The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. Coincidentally, both series were created by Chuck Lorre. The producer has quite the resume of cliche and generic sitcoms under his belt, so I approached his new series, The Kominsky Method, with a huge amount of skepticism. Even the fact that the series aired on Netflix didn't give me any additional comfort. There is just something about the old school sitcom that doesn't work as well thanks to two decades worth of singe camera comedies that have elevated the format to new levels. I am very happy to say that I was completely wrong. The Kominsky Method is a great series that is both laugh out loud funny as well as genuinely heartfelt thanks to some excellent performances from Michael Douglas, Alan Arkin, and Nancy Travis.

After his recent return to the big screen in the ANT-MAN films, Michael Douglas continues to embrace his comedic side with this series that is less sitcom and more comedy-drama. Playing an aging acting coach, I was worried that it would be too similar to Henry Winkler's award-winning role on HBO's Barry. Thankfully, Douglas is not a caricature but a fully realized and flawed human being. Unlike Lorre's characters on Mom and Two-and-a-Half Men, Douglas' Sandy Kominksy is a likeable character. He is not a scumbag womanizer but rather an man coming to grips with old age. The series shares a lot in common with fellow Netflix series Grace and Frankie which pairs Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. Here, Douglas and Alan Arkin have an amazing chemistry that turns what could have been a generic series into something must see.

Sandy is a very different role than we have been used to seeing from Michael Douglas. Now in his seventies, Douglas is less the suave leading man he was in the ROMANCING THE STONE and FATAL ATTRACTION days but he is no less charismatic. Sandy Kominsky is more Jewish than we have ever seen Michael Douglas (he is half-Jewish on his father's side) and there are quite a few jokes about the Jewish faith, something both Douglas and Alan Arkin play very well. But, the majority of the humor in this series comes from the idea of aging as episodes are focused on death, prostate exams, sexual inadequacy, infidelity, and dealing with adult children. Sarah Baker plays Sandy's daughter, Mindy, and Lisa Edelstein portrays Norman's (Alan Arkin) daughter Phoebe who has been in and out of rehab her entire life. The relationship between parents and children is very natural and shows how the roles can change over the years.

Sandy's burgeoning romance with divorcee Lisa (the always good Nancy Travis) is also a breath of fresh air as we see Michael Douglas with a woman closer to his own age. Jokes are made about Sandy dating twentysomethings from his class but he and Lisa feel like a genuine couple. It also doesn't hurt that Nancy Travis and Michael Douglas have a good reparte in their roles. There are also numerous cameos including Corbin Bernsen, Danny Devito, Jay Leno, and Patti LaBelle to name a few. Creator Chuck Lorre seems to have called in all of the favors he could to populate this show with familiar faces, but it never feels like the stunt casting you would see on a network series. It all works well together.

The Kominsky Method, TV Review, Drama, Comedy, Netflix, Michael Douglas, Nancy Travis, Chuck Lorre, Alan Arkin

But, The Kominsky Method does still feel like trademark Chuck Lorre in some respects. Unlike his CBS shows, The Kominsky Method is presented as a serial drama with each episode picking up where the last left off. The thirty minute run time of each episode still tries to replicate the traditional three-act structure of a multi-camera sitcom and it sometimes leaves each episode a little too structured. This approach does begin to fade away after the first episodes and the series settles in to telling the story it really wants to share: Sandy and Norman's friendship. The show may be titled after Michael Douglas' character, but it really is equally a starring role for Alan Arkin. Arkin has long been a reliable actor and has been very deserving of the acclaim from roles in movies like LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, but he really gets to develop Norman into something memorable that will be regarded as one of his best characters. At 85, you would expect Arkin to be slowing down, but he looks like he could keep acting for years to come.

The Kominsky Method may look like it won't appeal to younger audiences but I assure you that this is a series worth your time. Netflix is the perfect platform for Chuck Lorre, who helmed every episode, to not have to shy away from profanity or adult subject matter and presents a portrait of two life-long friends as they enter the twilight of their lives. This is a series that will appeal to fans of Curb Your Enthusiasm as it mocks the California lifestyle but also to fans of well-acted and well made stories that can blend humor and serious subject matter without sacrificing the quality of either. As I said at the start of this review, I dislike Lorre's CBS sitcoms but I am very happy that this series is his first that takes the traditional sitcom format and does something special with it.

The Kominsky Method premieres November 16th on Netflix.

Source: JoBlo.com

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