Alfre Woodard, Mädchen Amick, Saffron Burrows, Taylor Lautner,
The Complete Series
- Buy the DVD
Reviewed by Ross Ruediger
t’s always sad when a series doesn’t get a fighting chance and is quickly canceled before it even really gets to prove itself. “My Own Worst Enemy” was such a series on the fall 2008 schedule, and it only managed to rack up a whopping nine episodes before NBC announced it was axing the entire affair. The show is by no means remarkable programming, but it does roll along quite nicely, with enough twists and turns to keep it interesting for the less than half a season of it that was produced.
Of course, lest anyone call me on the carpet for being hypocritical, I can’t say I watched past the pilot last year, so I’m just as guilty as the rest of you for not tuning in. The pilot actually may have been a big part the problem – in attempting to create an immediate hook with which to grab viewers, the more interesting, character-driven aspects of the show aren’t really present in that first hour, and the show’s central gimmick (around which the pilot is built) is one of its less interesting features. And yet without the gimmick, all the other cool stuff couldn’t happen and there wouldn’t have been a show at all.
Crafted as a sort of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” meets “Alias,” the story centers on Edward Albright (Christian Slater), an agent for a shadowy organization called Janus, which engages its operatives in all manner of international espionage. The hook is that each of its operatives has been given a secondary personality – a regular Joe who lives a normal life with a suburban family. In Edward’s case, that person is Henry Spivey. Edward knows of Henry’s existence, but Henry does not know about Edward – until something goes wrong, anyway, and Janus ceases to have control over when he’s Edward and when he’s Henry. They go so far as to try to erase Henry from existence, but it doesn’t work.
Things get even more convoluted after that, and the two sides begin existing in each other’s worlds. Henry ends up bumbling his way through Edward’s missions, and Edward ends up sleeping with Henry’s wife Angie (Mädchen Amick, who still remains, nearly 20 years after “Twin Peaks,” one of the hottest ladies on TV). Neither side of the personality coin is happy with the situation, but it appears the only other way out is death. One wonders why Mavis (Alfre Woodard), Edward’s superior, allows this to continue, but I’m not sure the series lasted long enough to address the issue, and at least a dozen others. It’s the kind of show that works best if you just accept the premise and go with it. Ask too many questions, and you may ruin it for yourself.
It’d be best if you didn’t know much more about the series, since these nine episodes are it, and well, there need to be some surprises. I found myself spinning one episode after another, and having a great time with the show. Needless to say, I don’t think there’s a weak installment in the small batch of nine, and the last episode ends with a couple intriguing cliffhangers, which will of course never be addressed. Slater’s actually pretty good in the show. Edward is the kind of morally bankrupt character he can play backwards in his sleep. While his Henry is just different enough to make it work, there’s a good chance that a better actor could’ve made the divide between the two more engaging. I hate to say that because I’m one of those people who, because of my age, accepts Slater in pretty much anything, since I’ve grown up with him, and feel like I practically know the guy. (Surely I’m not alone in that sentiment?)
But he is a limited actor, right? Who knows how comfortable he may have become with the concept had it gone on, and clearly the writers and producers of this show had a lot of tricks up their sleeves that they were just waiting to unveil. It’s just a huge shame we’ll never get to see them. Finally, “Twilight” fans may want to look into this because of Taylor Lautner, who’s all set to be a major player in the sequel. Here he plays Henry’s son, although, as you might guess, he doesn’t get much more screen time than he did in “Twilight.”