'Trust Me': New TNT drama needs time to shine
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TNT has had a successful ratings run with crime-tinged dramas "The Closer," "Saving Grace," "Leverage" and "Raising the Bar," but with the ad agency-set drama "Trust Me," the network steps outside its comfort zone.
Growth is necessary for any network but it's often accompanied by growing pains and that's certainly the case with "Trust Me," a not-bad/not-great series that's more interesting for the ideas it puts forth than it is entertaining.
Chicago ad men Mason (Eric McCormack, "Will & Grace") and Conner (Tom Cavanagh, "Ed") work as a team until their hot-headed boss (guest star Jason O'Mara, "Life on Mars") drops dead and Mason gets promoted. Conner is peeved but he has no right to be given his disorganized, irresponsible nature.
Mason is the art director; Conner is the copywriter with a flair for presentation. They're joined in the premiere (10 p.m. Monday) by newly-hired copywriter Sarah Krajicek-Hunter (Monica Potter, "Boston Legal"), a high-maintenance screamer who covets an office with windows. Junior
Starring: Eric McCormack, Tom Cavanagh.
copywriters Hector (Geoffrey Arend) and Tom (Mike Damus, "Brutally Normal") pitch less conventional advertising slogans.
The "Trust Me" premiere is darker and less fun than next week's episode, which one hopes will be a better barometer of the series' tone as it moves forward. When an ad dreamed up in this week's episode falls apart next week -- a focus group thinks the slogan sounds too much like a euphemism for masturbation -- the team must come up with a replacement. Mason ends up enlisting his wife, Erin (Sarah Clarke, "24"), in skewing a new focus group.
In this plot, "Trust Me," created by veteran ad execs Hunt Baldwin and Pittsburgh native John Convey, offers an interesting glimpse behind the scenes of modern media messaging in America and how advertising gets made. That's a better premise for a series than the angry, dysfunctional office depicted in Monday's premiere, which brought to mind the novel "Then We Came to the End." Plenty of viewers work in an office full of personality conflicts every day and they may not want to re-live it in the evenings through a fictional TV program.
Sexuality aside, McCormack doesn't stray far from his "Will & Grace" character in this new series. He's still the responsible one. Cavanagh, on the other hand, is far removed from his leading role on "Ed," where he was the center of sanity surrounded by crazy secondary characters. His Conner is a fast-talking, creative whirlwind of energy, but he's also a bit of a jerk more likely to create problems for Mason than he is to solve them.
For fans of "Mad Men," "Trust Me" offers a modern, more recognizable ad agency world but the tone of TNT's series is completely different. It is not "Mad Men: The Next Generation," not by a long shot. And the show's quality lags leaps and bounds behind. To be sure, "Trust Me" is less of an insult to viewers' intelligence than paint-by-numbers drama "Raising the Bar," but it's also less entertaining than "The Closer."
First Published January 25, 2009 12:00 am