Thursday, March 29, 2007

No follow-through

The other day, I started thinking about great ideas with no follow through.

The Showcase channel in Canada has started screening Huff, which I already watched when it was on the The Movie Network, a couple of years ago. (At the same time it was on whichever US channel, Showtime?, US originally screened it.)

Watching this series again from the beginning, I was reminded of the homeless Hungarian character who was in most of the first season's episodes... at least the first half of the first season.

And it made me think... If you bring an element into a story that's cool or interesting or mystical or different, I think you need to follow through on it. If you just drop it, the audience/reader will be left feeling unsatisfied at best, annoyed at worst. The defection of fans from Lost comes to mind. (Me? I'm still hoping the Lost writers know what the hell is going on and what that black smoke is and why some people are on the list and why some aren't and why Locke can walk on the island. But I admit I'm very naive when it comes to Lost. Who thinks those burried alive people this week will live?)

With Huff, for me, the dropped thread was the Hungarian. I don't know if any of you watched or are watching this show, but I was originally so impressed with it, especially during the first season. Talk about your interesting characters.
A psychiastrist who's basically a really good guy but who's going through a bit of a mid-life and career crisis.
His mother, brilliantly played by Blythe Danner, who gives new meaning to controlling and manipulative.
His wife who tries to be supportive but is pushed the breaking point by Huff's crises, by Huff's mother and by her own problems.
His best friend, played by Oliver Platt, who's a drug-addicted-prostitute-using-brilliantly-successful attorney.
And the lawyer's very cool admin assistant. Love the relationship between Russell and Maggie.

And that's not even touching on Huff's patient characters.

But the Hungarian... In the first few episodes he showed up at some point during each show asking Huff for help and then disappearing in such a way that it was absolutely obvious to the viewer that the Hungarian wasn't real, that he was in Huff's mind, but somehow Huff, the psychiatrist, never seems to figure this out. The Hungarian was a device, I assume, to symbolize Huff's inner turmoil, to help show how Huff is questioning who he is and whether or not he's a good person and whether he's really actually helping any of his patients...

But then the Hungarian just disappears, or rather stops appearing in the episodes.

One must assume that the writers no longer found him a very interesting device or something, because I don't really remember any trigger for him not being there anymore. This made the Hungarian a very unsatisfying literary device, for me anyway. Speaking of unsatisfying... The final episode of Huff was pretty unsatisfying, too... but I have more trouble blaming the writers for that, because this series was cancelled prematurely not allowing the writers to wrap up all the characters' stories properly.

Anyone else watch Huff? Anyone have any different ideas about the Hungarian? Why he was there and why he disappeared??? Was there a trigger or change in Huff that I missed? Or did I miss the connection?


Anonymous said...

Ahhh...I'm glad you covered this.
I thought the show had something to do with Arianne Huffington and The Huffington Post (HuffPo). I was tempted to watch it.

But now that I know it's a fictional piece, I'll pass.

Anonymous said...

I haven't watched Huff, but I had heard really good things.
I hate it when a show drops a big element like it never existed, but I'm always impressed when a small thing from a past season comes to have a bigger meaning later on.. it shows they have a plan and are thinking things through..

i still Lost has no plan.. they're grasping in the dark..

Maureen McGowan said...

I'm beginning to think you're right about Lost Sinead... I should know by now that you're always right.

Now, if I rewatch the pilot and see those characters who got buried alive last night actually in those episodes? That would impress me. I know they've been in all this season... But I'm pretty sure we didn't see them before that.

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