Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Amazon Prime – Salem Rogers

One of the cool things about the explosion of “new media” is that it allows for the discovery of new voices and allows for success outside of the traditional means.  Also, because they’re less entrenched in the old ways, Amazon and Netflix are more willing to takes risks. 

Amazon Studios in particular accepts submissions, which presents a huge opportunity for aspiring creators.  Salem Rogers is a show that that was submitted to Amazon Studios and has now become a pilot. 

Salem Rogers is a half hour comedy about of a former supermodel who, after spending years in rehab, is trying to reclaim her former glory.  Along for the ride is her former assistant and current covert life coach Agatha Todd.

Salem Rogers does a good job of establishing the characters.  Salem is Ron Burgundy mixed with most clichés about models.  Agatha pretty much has her life together before Salem reenters the picture, at which point basically reverts to their old dynamic. 

Of course part of the reason Agatha falls back into her old role is because she wants to transition from kid lit to being a published life coach and her publisher only signs on once she claims she’s going to guide the Salem, a notorious trainwreck.  It’s a plot motivation that is both necessary and clunky. 

Leslie Bibb plays Salem is delightfully over the top with just a hint of self-awareness.  She has no censor and for the most part still believes that she’s on top of the world.  Bibb manages to avoid being cartoony and actually makes Salem a viable character. 

Rachel Dratch’s put upon Agatha is everything you’d expect her to be, she’s fashionably schlubby.  Even though you know that it’s probably going to be bad news, you can’t help but hope that Agatha and Salem can help each other. 

Also, Harry Hamlin steals every scene he’s in as the delightfully catty Roberto.  Seriously, this guy is having a renaissance on the small screen. 

Of course as a show Salem Rogers isn’t without it’s flaws.  Firstly, it relies too heavily on crude humor.  It’s almost as though it aspires to be a tv version of the aforementioned Anchorman.  The thing about that sort of humor is that it works best with limits (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) or when it’s used sparingly to punctuate something (Veep).  Should it get picked up, hopefully Salem Rogers will find some sort of balance. 

But Salem Rogers should also be applauded for having a plan, as illustrated by the teaser and tag, which flash-forward to a disastrous trip abroad.  

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