TV Review: 'Dirt' doesn't dig deep into story, characters

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Courteney Cox, right, stars as Lucy Spiller in "Dirt."
Click photo for larger image.

Everyone knows dirt is messy. Turns out, so is "Dirt," FX's meandering drama about a tabloid magazine editor played by Courteney Cox ("Friends").

Premiering at 10 p.m. Tuesday, "Dirt" is not in the same league as FX's other acclaimed dramas. "Nip/Tuck" may now be grotesque and sensational, but when it started, it had something to say about body image and plastic surgery. "The Shield" continues to be a smart, sophisticated character drama about the many shades of morality.

But "Dirt" is pretty much just a soapy, shallow look at how gossip is currency in Hollywood. The show posits that when one works for a tabloid, blackmail is just a routine reporting technique.

   
'Dirt'

When: 10 p.m. Tuesday, FX.

Starring: Courteney Cox.

   

Cox stars as Lucy Spiller, editor of the tabloid Drrt and the People magazine-like Now. She's a determined go-getter editor.

"Gossip is what lands you in court," Lucy cautions. "The only real defense we have is the truth. Preferably with photos."

Schizophrenic paparazzi photographer Don Konkey (Ian Hart), a friend of Lucy's from college, is her go-to photo guy. Never mind that he hallucinates regularly and has conversations with corpses no one else can see. He gets the job done.

At times, it seems like "Dirt" creator Matthew Carnahan ("Fastlane") is far more interested in exploring and developing Don's character, as if Lucy was shoe-horned into the plot once big-name Cox became available. Don has as much face time in the three "Dirt" episodes sent for review as Lucy, if not more.

Other characters include rising-star couple Holt (Josh Stewart) and Julia (Laura Allen, "The 4400"), who play their own complicated games with the tabloids, attempting to use them to further their careers.

As for Lucy, she has a brief fling with an aspiring rock star and turf battles at the office with her publisher boss (Jeffrey Nordling). But so far, she's not that complicated. In this TV-MA-rated series, viewers see her at home in her bed, procuring a vibrator from the nightstand and pleasuring herself. In "Dirt," this counts as she's-a-powerful-career-woman-who's-lonely character development.

In an attempt to give this blank canvas some depth, the writers give Lucy a gay interior decorator brother (Will McCormack) in the third episode. He gets a job redecorating the home of a macho action star (Grant Show, "Melrose Place"), who preaches family values on a talk show. Can you guess what hypocrisy will be revealed about this macho action star once he gets a gay decorator in his home?

"Dirt" excels at showcasing the grimy and unseemly, but so far the stories are flat and the lead character is pretty much exactly what you'd expect.


TV editor Rob Owen can be reached at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Ask TV questions at www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Q&A.


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