I have recently rediscovered my total fangirling love for Alan Cumming via being the latest person on this planet to watch The Good Wife. I now have cringed my way through Instinct, his latest show, in which he plays Dr. Dylan Reinhart. It has Naseem Andrews (Lost, Sense8) and Whoopi Goldberg in it, too, so what could go wrong? Well, basically almost everything but the suits.
Also it’s Sunday and I’m in a mood for writing.
Instinct’s basic concept is fine, if not a little bit… well, over the top:
☑️ Take a secretive ex-CIA paramilitary officer who still has his connections, all very serious and dangerous and potentially involved in unethical gov actions.
☑️ Take a a quirky psychology professor with an immense knowledge base and phonographic memory who likes to challenge his students and they admire him in his lectures on Abnormal Behaviour and he just loves teaching.
☑️ Take a famous writer with writer’s block, with a bit of a rockstar ego but also very vulnerable and very late with his next book. And you get Whoopi Goldberg playing his editor who regularly keeps kicking his ass.
☑️ Take a loving emotional happy gay husband – the first gay main character in a US network drama. A gay couple that even starts thinking about adopting a child, you know, the kind of gays, who show how *normal* gay people can be. Just like everyone else. Aaaw, look at those cuddly cute safe non-sexual gays.
☑️ Take a sensitive son with father (figure) problems going on, with John Doman (The Wire, Rizzoli & Isles) playing an FBI agent who has never forgiven his son for – no, not what you think: it’s not about being gay, lol, but for leaving the CIA. Which he thinks was his son’s true calling.
All these men are combined into a Sherlock Holmes character when he becomes a police consultant.
The Sherlock and deduction script makes you wonder why the series is called Instinct. I haven’t found out yet.
While the BBC Sherlock has mostly managed smoothing complex storylines, sharp and funny dialogue and a complex as-loveable-as-loathable main character into a tasty cocktail, Instinct is the example of how to fuck up the same thing. It’s painful to watch how the storylines just don’t click together, how the building blocks show. The makers don’t even really seem to know in depth what and how they want their main character to be.
Now, not everything has to be a new Sherlock and Instinct could be at least “Elementary meets Rizzoli & Isles” entertainment and somehow they are, but if you go for “brilliant and quick-witted”, you got to deliver on dialogue. Half of the dialogue of Instinct pushed my eyebrow game on levels almost as high as Cumming’s because it is not just bad but lame. When it should be “witty” it is more like “[look, here we insert something witty lel]”. It’s too busy glueing all the things it wants to be together, to get into a coherent flow. The main character has no time to become someone because he comes hopelessly overloaded and overexplained.
You get what it tries for and you get to watch it fail.
I guess, why I even care is because this really could and should work, it should be a fun series. That’s what always pisses me off most: When you feel that something has potential but it crashes into basic mediocrity because of creators being this certain mix of too careful, of trying to please too many, and of wanting too much at the same time. As Instinct is, Cumming sadly has not much to play with and his suits can hardly save this mess.
Or maybe I’m just not the target group and the show’s incentive is to sell a gay main character to a Rizzoli & Ice audience? See, I’m even trying to find excuses for it, so hard have I tried to like this.
Anyway, the reason why Instinct still is worth watching, is fashion. Have I mention Cumming’s suit play?! Fashionwise – wow, I approve, give me season 2! It even made me regret that I threw away my pinstripe suit a couple of years ago. ^^
I’m already sorry for typing this down because thing is: No matter how ranty my mood after watching this mess, I can’t write a blog entry that only disses something with Alan Cumming. You just can’t do that to this living breathing embodiment/brand of kindness and charm. I mean, seriously, this man even has a totally sweet and unsarcastic Urban Dictionary entry when I thought that was a virtual impossibility.
So allow me to finish this post with a big recommendation: Go and watch Alan Cumming’s Cabaret performance. (Thankfully the whole thing is on youtube.) It’s timely, it’s brutal, it’s sexy. Best watch it in an eternal loop. Cabaret with its (not so sub-)plot of the Nazi’s rise has become a politically and emotionally relevant watch again anyway and Cumming as The Emcee is the cruelly best in bringing out the darker tones. If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, maybe at least watch the opening and final scene.
And I’m off to watch After Louie next. IF I’m fangirling mode, I’m doing it right.
Oh, and as a little P.S. while I’m blogging here again after such a long pause:
Some personal words, too:
This year, with our venue-shift to the Kantine, somehow has turned out far more stressfull than I had expected. Or maybe I’ve lost my power moves and am finally getting old. Naaaah, joking. I’m totally not ready to accept that yet. I love my life being a steady rollercoaster of getting worked up about and working in music in oh so many ways, emotionally and organisational and theory-spinningly, of working in a group of very loveable and fierce human beings that constantly reinvents itself, of my workaholic office routines, and of getting my intellectual cravings fulfilled from reading, writing and doing talks, and of course: of excessive partying! And usually, if I may say so, I’m rather good at this rollercoastering. But. Now I seem to be becoming also good at breakdowns. And not in a good glamorous drama queen way but in a painful and isolating way. So, well, I am aware that I can get too passionate about things and overwork my schedule but how couldn’t I?! There are so many exciting possibilities and friends and maybe-soon-to-be-friends with whom to make plans for new exciting projects – where to stop? I don’t know, but as of this autumn, my stupid body has already made the decision for me twice and stopped me from doing anything at all for a couple of days, in that weird mix of diffuse mental and physical symptoms that only bodies can think about as a cool way of showing you how much they care about you, while honestly, – hey, you listening, body? – it’s just scary and makes you feel isolated and smol and fall into silence. I’m not too stupid to see that I am not worth much pity as it is all about stretching my limits too far myself and I have to live with the consequences, but hell, being reasonable is so damn boooring! So if I’m honest, my hopes that my resolutions to tread a bit more carefully will last very long are not very high, so welcome, my new personal era of constant fragility.