Starz original programming, already on the uptick with “Power” and “Outlander” on the drama side, gives TV fans another reason to subscribe with Jonathan Ames’ new comedy “Blunt Talk,” which also boasts Seth MacFarlane as an executive producer. The new show starring Patrick Stewart teams with returning sports comedy “Survivor’s Remorse,” making a strong Saturday night comedy duo for the channel.
Stewart is Walter Blunt, the bombastic principal anchorman for cable news network UBS (yes, that’s a tip of the hat to Paddy Chayefsky’s “Network”) and Walter is faced with many problems: First and foremost, his ratings are nose-diving and he’s got to find a way to revive them. Second, he consumes drugs and alcohol like candy, aided and abetted by his trusty valet Harry (Adrian Scarborough), who’s been by his side since their days in the military. Blunt’s team at the show includes producers Jim (Timm Sharp) and Celia (Dolly Wells) and executive producer Rosalie (Jacki Weaver) plus their UBS boss played by Romany Malco. When Walter starts to act out in response to his overwhelming stress, he becomes tabloid fodder. With the help of a therapist (Richard Lewis, in a recurring role,) Walter resolves to fight for a second chance to redeem himself and his show.
The “Blunt Talk” pilot episode lays this all out in larger than life fashion and Stewart commits to the role’s theatricality with ease and vigor. His enthusiasm is apparent and adds to the fun, keeping viewer empathy on Walter’s side. Stewart is ably supported by the ensemble cast, in particular Scarborough as Walter’s fiercely devoted manservant who is especially adept at helping Walter find his way back after one of his benders.
Jonathan Ames loves eccentric characters, as you know if you were a fan of his HBO comedy “Bored to Death” and he adds to that stable with Walter Blunt and his merry band of enablers, whom we learn more about in subsequent episodes.
Stewart and Scarborough make “Blunt Talk” worth watching, as they’re an offbeat co-dependent pair who clearly have great affection and respect for each other, and watching Stewart embrace Walter’s often loony behavior is a treat.
A golf clap is also due to Chris Albrecht and the Starz programming team for ordering up a comedy that deliberately tries to make noise and break through the clutter. Hiring Sir Patrick Stewart to topline a broad comedy may not occur to most programmers but as “Blunt Talk” proves, it’s a good call.
“Blunt Talk” premieres at 9 p.m. on Starz.