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Reviewed by Will Harris
t takes a right and proper TV critic to be able to describe HBO’s “Hung” and successfully sell it to someone so that when you hit the punchline, “Oh, right, and the lead character has a massive schlong,” their interest in the series is too far along for them to be scared away. Having said that, one hopes that Bullz-Eye’s review of the series’ first season successfully served the purpose for you, because if it didn’t, then the preceding sentence probably just killed any chances we had of selling the show to you now.
Not that we won’t try to do it, anyway, you understand.
When we last left high school history teacher / basketball coach Ray Drecker (Thomas Jane), he was trying to rebuild his life and his family while surreptitiously serving the local ladies as a gigolo. It’s still not a world in which Ray is terribly comfortable, but compared to his pimp, Tanya (Jane Adams), he might as well be the best in the business. Indeed, during the course of Season Two, there’s an increasing amount of tension between Tanya and her co-pimp – is that even a thing? – Lenore, played by Rebecca Creskoff, who has little tolerance for Tanya’s learning curve. Little does Lenore know, however, that Tanya has taken to getting advice from a real pimp named Charlie (Lennie James), so she’s not quite the delicate flower she was when they first started working together. Mind you, that still doesn’t make her much better at her job than she was in Season One. Indeed, if anything, Tanya’s growing so obsessed with the thought of beating Lenore at her game that she’s growing increasing reckless with her decisions.
Ah, but this isn’t the only triangle of trouble within the series. There’s also the odd relationship which exists between Ray, his ex-wife, Jessica (Anne Heche), and her current husband, Ronnie (Eddie Jemison). Ray’s never really gotten over Jessica, and one could argue that there’s a bit of reciprocation on that front, but Jessica’s trying her best to stick by Ronnie, an issue made more difficult in Season Two by his financial difficulties. That’s okay, though, because Ray’s got plenty of his own problems to work out, chief among them the fact that he’s forced to involve fellow teacher / coach Mike (Gregg Henry) with one of his “customers” after a case of mistaken identity. Things go about as badly as they possibly could, of course, with Mike falling for the woman. Eventually, the truth comes out, and …well, that goes pretty damned badly, too.
Season Two of “Hung” is consistently entertaining, but it’s not quite as strong as Season One, possibly because you’re not quite as aghast at the premise anymore. Also, the economic aspect of the series feels as though it’s taken a back seat somewhat, leaving the original comparisons to “Breaking Bad” less apt than they once were. Still, the characters continue to amuse (with the exception of Ray and Jessica’s kids, who continue to be so dark and strange that you wish they’d either lighten the hell up or stay out of the storylines), as does the premise, so there’s still sufficient reason to hang on for Season Three.
Special Features: If you’re a fan of audio commentaries, you’ll be pleased to find that there are five of ‘em spread over the course of the set, but you may be a bit disheartened to discovered that there’s not a single cast member to be found. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with the contributions from creators / executive producers Colette Burson and Dmitry Lipkin, co-executive producer/writer Angela Robinson, and writers Brett C. Leonard, Julia Brownell and Kyle Peck, but, man, I really wanted to hear a Thomas Jane commentary. Beyond the commentaries, there are also deleted scenes as well as a featurette entitled “Hung: Inside the Series.”