Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Season 1 Episode 3
“Family Man”
Written by Daniel Knauf
Directed by Ronny Yu

Now this is more like it. I guess it is true, that the third time’s the charm.

“Family Man” follows the travails of Dennis Mahoney (Eureka’s Colin Ferguson), a church-going, successful bank VP, with everything going for him, including a loving, doting family, who, after a near-fatal accident, finds that he’s switched bodies with Richard Brodigan (Capote’s Clifton Collins, Jr.), the infamous serial killer known as “the Family Man.”

What I feel is the strongest aspect of “Family Man” is the fact that this is a well-written, excellently-acted entry that I don’t think I would have seen on Masters of Horror.
“Family Man” is a psychological thriller that, while admittedly being disturbing and having spots of violence, also succeeds in delving into areas of the genre that don’t rely on on-screen gore or bizarre creature effects to elicit audience reactions.
If Fear Itself means to carve out its own identity removed from MoH, this is definitely a step in the right direction.

And while the body switch is another tried-and-tested notion, what makes “Family Man” work like gangbusters is the noteworthy acting by Collins and Ferguson.
Since I had already been impressed by Collins’ amazing work on Bennett Miller’s Capote, I expected much from him, and wasn’t disappointed.
The pleasant surprise here was Ferguson, as I wasn’t quite sure if he’d be up to the task. Eureka, after all (and no offense meant), isn’t a vehicle that particularly asks much of its actors.
In “Family Man,” Ferguson plays Brodigan-in-Mahoney’s body as the unstable, potentially abusive spouse, the dinner scene a decidedly unsettling sequence.
I’d perhaps first need to watch all 26 MoH episodes again before making a definitive pronouncement, but I think it’s safe to say “Family Man” boasts some of the best acting in the history of the show (“the show” being Masters of Horror/Fear Itself).

Written by Daniel Knauf (who’s written for Carnivale and Supernatural) and directed by Ronny Yu (whose Bride of Chucky was a thoroughly enjoyable entry in the Child’s Play franchise), “Family Man” is the Fear Itself installment I’ve been waiting for, the one that says this is a show worth your time, a series capable of showcasing horror effectively on the small screen.
And if the show continues on this winning trajectory, it may just serve the cause of horror more potently than MoH’s spotty record did.

(Images courtesy of nbc.com.)

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