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The Big C, “Losing Patients” (2.01)


A review of the season premiere, written by Darlene Hunt and directed by Michael Engler, after the jump…

Laura Linney is awesome. Even the people who don’t like this show can attest to that fact, and here, she’s just as great as she was throughout the first season. Cathy is a changed woman. Or, more accurately, she’s the same woman she always was… but ready to fight. And she’s got an army alongside her, from the supportive Paul (Oliver Platt), to seemingly-apathetic Adam (Gabriel Basso), to the furious, lashing out Sean (John Benjamin Hickey), a stark difference from last season.

I’m really glad the show has kept Phyllis Somerville on as the long-dead Marlene, appearing to Cathy on a regular basis. A few TV shows have done this (and I’m not exactly sure how often this happens in real life, even cancer sufferers), and it feels kind of tropey, but I’m hoping they have some interesting places to take this. Marlene is the spectre of Cathy’s oncoming death, and watching her struggle with Marlene as a (non-)physical reminder of it is interesting. The show could go the spiritual route and have Marlene be Marlene, but her voice sounds like Cathy-as-spectre-of-death, so I’m guessing it won’t be anything more than a hallucination. Marlene’s ‘red tape’ line definitely felt like it came from Cathy’s brain.

I’m a little disappointed that we’re not getting anything grander from Adam, as he’s playing largely the same notes he has last year and bored me then. And Rebecca (Cynthia Nixon)  seems to be a semi-permanent addition, which is frustrating as she’s one of the shows more cartoonish characters. I’m a little disappointed at what seems like the exit fro Reid Scott‘s Dr. Mauer, even as it makes sense from a plot and character standpoint. His chemistry with Cathy/Linney whether played romantically or platonically, was always very strong. Everyone else seems to be playing at relatively similar levels to last season, which is fine, but not as exciting as I would have hoped.

Ultimately, the season 2 premiere wasn’t a mindblowing episode, nor did it contain the power of the show at its best. I think this season is one that will grow in strength as it builds some momentum, though. The balance of comedy and drama here was good, and the episode gave Linney a great showcase. Hoping to be blown away, and inspired to say more, after future episodes.

 

LThe Big C, “Two For the Road” (1.07): Written by Cara DiPaolo, directed by Craig Zisk.

The Big C. “Happy Birthday Cancer” (1.06): Written by Toni Kalem, directed by Alan Poul.

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