From its first announcement, the new flashy miniseries of FX Pit / Verdon – debuted Tuesday at 10 / 9c; I saw five of the eight episodes – seemed to come with his own pre-written Emmy campaign. It has all the characteristics of the Hollywood biopic that is often the subject of rewards: imitations on the spot celebrities, abundant quantities of drugs and alcohol, story that requires a long period of makeup for the elderly. However, despite the remarkable performances of its two main actors, it never really comes out of this established biopic framework and is not enough to tell a new and fascinating story. He knows all the steps, but can not find a way to give new life to dance.
Oscar winner Sam Rockwell plays the role of legendary choreographer and Broadway director Bob Fosse, and Pit / Verdon opens with him direct the cinematic version of Sweet charitywhich turns out to be a costly failure. He bounces, however, to direct Liza Minnelli in Cabaret and win an Oscar, a Tony and an Emmy the same year. Oscar-nominee Michelle Williams plays the role of the equally legendary woman of Fosse, actress Tony Gwen Verdon, who is in fact her secret weapon, working as a key (and uncredited) contributor in his most famous productions. But even she is fed up with the rampant infidelity of Fosse: when he asks her to fly to Berlin to help her on the set of Cabaretshe asks significantly: "Am I going to be unhappy when I get there?
The fiery theater nerds will appreciate Pit / Verdon Richly detailed time capsule of the showbiz of the 1970s, in all its kitsch splendor: the bright color reconstructions of the classic productions of Fosse are a treat to watch and sometimes manage to capture the intoxicating success of Hollywood. But the narrative heart of Pit / Verdon The relationship is tumultuous at its center, and all leaps of decade in leaps can not mask the foundation of well-used biopic clichés on which it is built. It's as if the characters were kept in orange, from a pre-ordered script. (Even the Verdon complains in the middle of a fight with Fosse that she has already heard this dialogue too often before.)
The biggest cliché of all is Fosse himself, the prototype artistic genius whose talents outweigh his glaring flaws. He is a perfectionist, raging against studio bean counters; He is a hopeless drug addict, spreading over an impressive number of ups and downs; It is a scared little boy who, in banal backslide, dances for him taps for his father, the sergeant instructor. It's the tortured artist 101, and it's too small to give a glimpse. In addition, these days, Fosse's "feminization" ways stand out like a sore thumb. (He almost forces himself on one of his dancers and when she refuses, he replaces her in a musical number by saying coldly: "She does not know how to go.") Pit / Verdon never really cares about the consequences of his monstrous behavior and lets him out of it all too often. His daughter, Nicole Fosse, is a producer here and the series sometimes plays more like a vague and nostalgic memory of a child of her parents than a lucid portrait of two giants in the industry.
Fortunately, Rockwell and Williams are so good that they almost make you forget that you have already seen this a thousand times before. Rockwell admirably captures the tired eyes and still calculating mind of Pit – and his astonishing fleet of feet too. Williams metamorphoses positively in Verdon, with a breathless voice inspired by old Hollywood and a placid smile reminiscent of Katharine Hepburn. In fact, I wonder if Pit / Verdon would have been stronger if he had focused on it. (Verdon / Pitperhaps?) Verdon struggles to find good roles after Broadway's glory to Broadway glory. Feud: Bette and Joan in his desperation to hang on to the light.
But this comparison leads to Pit / VerdonFundamental flaw: it's like a season of Quarrel… Except for one who has been robbed of Ryan Murphy's signature flair and makes his shows worth watching. I can not help but think that Murphy would cling to a story like this and get away with deeper conclusions that "showbiz, it's hard" and "l & # 39; 39, unfaithfulness, it's bad. " it's true, but the material given to them here never quite rises to reach their level.
THE LOWER LINE OF TVLINE: FX's Pit / Verdon is a richly detailed and well-read Hollywood biopic, but never goes deep enough to offer a real vision.