Blunt Talk: Season 1
R1 - America - Anchor Bay Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (30th September 2016).
The Show

The host of UBS' top show "Blunt Talk" Walter Blunt (Star Trek: The Next Generation's Patrick Stewart) has spent years telling America what it should think on a variety of topics with his British superiority, but the hard-drinking, thrice-divorced Falklands War veteran has managed to hit rock bottom with a suddenness. Getting loaded at his usual watering hole and taking to the road in his classic Jaguar, he picks up hooker Gisele (Transparent's Trace Lysette). It does not matter that Gisele is a pre-op transsexual because Walter only wants to nurse on her breasts. When they are busted by the police, drunken Walter's military training kicks in and he not only disarms a baton-bearing officer but also ruptures the man's testicles before his faithful valet/war buddy Harry (The King's Speech's Adrian Scarborough) manages to talk him down. Facing felony charges and bombarded by his media colleagues he has looked down upon in the past for the rumor that the prostitute he was arrested with was underage, Walter is facing suspension ("Your ratings have been shit for months, and your frontal lobes have turned to raisins. All that's left is your accent") but begs and bribes network president Bob Gardener (Weeds' Romany Malco) with his Jaguar for one more broadcast. Finding his producing and writing staff at a loss for damage control and then squabbling over what few ideas they have, Walter looks to a little therapeutic spooning with senior producer and longtime friend Rosalie (Animal Kingdom's Jacki Weaver) whereupon he comes up with the idea of interviewing himself candidly about the incident via splitscreen with pre-recorded questions. Before he can do any of this, however, he is required to meet with a therapist for insurance purposes. Mistakenly taking three Ambien provided by harried producer Jim Stone (Til Death's Timm Sharp) in place of his prescription of Provigil, Walter falls asleep during his session but unconventional Freudian shrink Dr. Weiss (Curb Your Enthusiasm's Richard Lewis) counteracts his Ambien blackout with cocaine. The combined effects, however, cause Walter to go off-book during the broadcast before collapsing on the air. After a Busby Berkeley-styled vision of Heaven in which he recalls growing up without ever having known his father, Walter wakes up to the realization he needs to be a better father to the country – and, of course, to his own children – with a plan to revitalize his show and tackle social, economic, and ecological issues. Amidst the complications that accumulate around each topic through the series – from Walter's sometimes scattershot interests to his sexual dry spell and raging libido – Walter also realizes that he needs to be a better father figure to his dysfunctional staff and address Jim's hording and foot fetish, co-producer Celia's (Morvern Callar's Dolly Wells) promiscuity and gambling issues, Rosalie's denial over her already eccentric husband Teddy's (This is Spinal Tap's Ed Begley Jr.) seeming onset of dementia, shy researcher Martin's (Deadpool's Karan Soni) intimacy issues that have put him in the middle of Rosalie's and Teddy's open marriage, junior producer Shelly's (Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates' Mary Holland) competitive streak that expresses itself in strange ways professionally and interpersonally, and Harry's extreme devotion to him at the expense of addressing his own issues as well as the way Harry's pampering of him has enabled the persistence of certain blind spots in Walter's knowledge and sensitivity.

Never quite as edgy as it wants to be (even when name-dropping Joe Paterno as someone Walter finds relatable), Blunt Talk manages to be an entertaining and funny if uneven single-camera sitcom thanks to the winning presences of Stewart (who is not so much breaking away from his Star Trek persona as reminding us that he has range and had a more diverse film and television career before his sci-fi fame) and Scarborough as believably affectionate comrades-in-arms for a much-derided war. Over the course of ten navel-gazing episodes, Blunt remains sympathetic since he is never as odious as Piers Morgan who seems in part a likely inspiration and the sincerity of his seemingly condescending paternalistic approach to saving the world. The relationships between Walter and Harry and Walter's attempts at informing the public about serious issues dominates the first half of the series to the point that the comedic and dramatic subplots involving the supporting characters seem like so much filler that is healthy for a half-hour show. The second half of the series strikes a better balance between Walter's personal and professional misadventures and those of his staff, giving them much-needed depth as Dr. Weiss turns the newsroom into "a psych ward" (as Rosalie puts it), with Jim more than a series of Jewish mama's boy clichιs, Celia less the British oddball (with some humor wrung out of her daddy issues that lead to a disastrous relationship with a slimy magician from the British dating site "Bangers & Match"), and Rosalie having accepted her husband's eccentricities and sexual openness to the extent that she is the last to notice or admit that Teddy may indeed be sick (Martin is underdeveloped and Shelly is rather cartoonish but may be expanded upon in season two which premieres this October on Starz). Other recurring characters include Walter's third ex-wife Vivian (Girlfriends' Golden Brooks), his five-year-old son Bertie (The Young and the Restless's Aidan Clark) who largely sees him on TV and addresses him as "Walter Blunt", Stewart's fellow Next Generation Brent Spiner as bar pianist Sam, Brett Gelman (Eagleheart) as Walter's pornographic filmmaker neighbor, and most entertainingly Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore) as the head of a "zero impact" family.
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Season One Episode Breakdown:

1.1: "I Seem to Be Running Out of Dreams for Myself" (30:13) – After getting arrested for drunk driving, assaulting a police officer, and soliciting a hooker, talk show host Walter Blunt rushes to save his show and his reputation.

1.2: "I Experience Shame and Anticipate Punishment" (29:45) – When Walter misses a plane to cover a hurricane, he and his staff must avail themselves of Ronnie's studio bluescreen to fake the report in exchange for Harry stepping in as a replacement for a porn shoot.

1.3: "All My Relationships End in Pain" (26:37) – Walter is ordered to attend AA meetings but finds the Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting more interesting. Sharon Lawrence (NYPD Blue) guest stars.

1.4: "A Beaver That's Lost Its Mind" (27:27) – Walter tries to be more involved in his son Bertie's life and discovers that his ex-wife is dating Moby (who also provided the theme song).

1.5: "The Queen of Hearts" (28:11) – When Rosalie loses a bet and is forced to book "The Anne Coulter of the Death Penalty" Suzanne Mayview (C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation's Elisabeth Shue) on the show, her apparent hero worship and Walter's flattered ego and libido may derail his intentions to demolish her extreme rightwing, vigilante-based views on capital punishment.
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1.6: "Goodnight, My Someone" (27:10) – Walter's attempts to literally and figuratively be in his estranged son Rafe's (real life son Daniel Stewart) corner during a boxing match he has been paid to throw.

1.7: "Meth or No Meth, You Still Gotta Floss" (28:36) – Jim is forced to make his on-air debut and Celia forced into Rosalie's shoes when Walter and Rosalie take to the road in search of Teddy who has disappeared after a car accident.

1.8: "Who Kisses So Early in the Morning?" (28:38) – Celia fears she has disappointed Walter when he is accused of plagiarism after she mixes her notes with his speech for a university address.

1.9: "I Brought a Petting Goat!" (29:38) – Walter's thirty-third anniversary party commemorating the end of the Falklands War devolves into a drug-fueled bacchanal in which the nature of several relationships change overnight.

1.10: "Let's Save Central Florida! Let's Save Midtown!" (27:41) – Walter and Harry explore unconventional therapy for their PTSD, but Walter's decision to bump the "zero impact" family for a story on his findings has drastic consequences.

Video

Ten episodes are split between two dual-layer discs, with serviceable compression of the anamorphic, progressive, HD-lensed video.
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Audio

Audio options include an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track that is generally front-oriented apart from some atmosphere during location, crowd, and party scenes and some more imaginative surround treatment of the fantasy-tinged moments and a Spanish dub in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. Optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles are also included.
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Extras

Extras are not plentiful but the most informative is "Inside the World of Blunt Talk" (23:41) in which creator Jonathan Ames (Bored to Death) discusses episode-by-episode the ways in which each episode advances Walter's story and touches upon the lives of the other characters. The remaining three extras "First Look" (1:58), "Meet the Newsroom" (1:48), and "Walter & Harry" (1:05) are web- or commercial break-ready sound-byte teaser with the cast.
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Overall

Never quite as edgy as it wants to be, Blunt Talk manages to be an entertaining and funny if uneven single-camera sitcom thanks to the winning presences of Stewart and Scarborough.
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