Third time is not the charm
Nine perfect strangers marks the third collaboration between the very prolific television author David E. Kelley and Nicole Kidman. After the excellent mystery drama Big little lies (especially in its first season) and the solid whodunit The Undoing they are back adapting another Liane Moriarty book. Unfortunately, third time is not the charm in this case.
Nine not so perfect strangers
Tranqulium is a high profiled, beautiful looking spa run by the enigmatic Masha (Kidman) who specializes in heling severe psychological pain and trauma in some not so orthodox ways (mostly with psychedelic drugs). The nine not so perfect strangers attending the spa are: Frances (McCarthy) a successful writer who has been coned out of a lot of money from her boyfriend, a former NFL star Tony who has nasty a pain killer addiction and no relationship with his daughters , Lars (Evans) who is dealing with a painfull breakup from his partner and has some childhood trauma, Napoleon (Shanon), yes really Napoleon, with his wife Heather (Keddie) and daughter Zoe (Van Patten) who are dealing with the suicide of their son and brother, Carmel (Hall) who can’t accept that her ex husband cheated on her and the couple Nick (Gregg) who is depressed because he won the lottery (yes really) and doesn’t know what to do and Jessica (Weaving) an Instagram star with very low self-esteem. What should have been either a disturbing thriller or a very funny oddball comedy turned into a complete mess
Great concept with a bad realization
It’s a classic example of a good idea but not much else. It is quite visible that most thought had been spent on the idea itself and not the realization and it’s landing highlighted by the very pathetic and unrealistic ending (it’s also worth mentioning that by the end the show sends a very disturbing message that strong hallucinogenic drugs are just awesome and very helpful) It does not justify its eight-episode runtime one bit since the story has enough material for a maximum two-hour movie. After the initial two episodes which are designed to set up the characters and the story there is very little happening in the middle of the season where all we see is basically characters interacting with each other or taking part in some bizarre activities and due to the fact that almost all of them are very poorly written it does not make for very entertaining television. It does fasten up by it’s end a bit but by then the viewer is not at all interested in the events so it also feels pretty flat as well.
The acting is a hit or miss
The actor’s performances are a mixed bag to say the least. Mellisa Mcarty and Bobby Canavale are the most consistent and likable in their roles and share surprisingly decent chemistry on the screen. Nicole Kidman is fantastic as a presence but sometimes feels quite wooden with a bizarre Russian not really Russian accent. Michael Shanon is trying is utmost best and somewhat keeping his character tolerable which can not be said for his wife Asher Keddie and daughter Grace Van Patten who feel very artificial and even though dealing with a very serious drama very non relatable. Luke Evans is decent in a very typical role for him as witty and charming know it all. The always excellent Samara Weawing and her husband Melvin Gregg are completely wasted and do not contribute to the plot at all, the series could have been called Seven perfect strangers easily. And poor Regina Hall deserves a special mention. The fantastic Oscar winning actress is dealt a role so poorly written that not even Meryl Streep would have been able to salvage it. She plays Carmel, an incredibly, loud, hysterical and violent personality with absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever resulting in one of the most irritating characters the small screen has seen in years.
In the end Nine perfect strangers feels like a giant wasted opportunity with talented showrunners, great actors, luxurious production and an interesting concept it could have been one of the best series on tv this year but unfortunately without a clear vision what it wanted to be it tried to be to much and failed in almost every department. It is quite ironic that for a show dealing with people with different forms of troubles and crisis to have its own identity crisis not knowing if it’s wants to be a creepy thriller, charming comedy or some sort of weird new age drama.