You feel bored at first.
You're kind of embarrassed for Lisa Kudrow at first. Don't we all feel on some level that she's somebody we already know and love and sort of our friend because we've all had the great experience of watching her as a part of "Friends"?
At first you kind of just feel weird about "The Comeback".
And there's all this kind of stuff that isn't exactly groundbreaking, and the first episode you see, regardless of which of the first 12 episodes you happen to watch, as the initial episode that you watch, no matter which of the first 12 of these thirteen episodes that you watch, whichever one it is, it will probably leave you wondering, why in the world would I (me, now, this guy who's writing all this for you to read) why in the world would he start by telling you that any episode you choose to watch first will leave you feeling bored?
That's not a very good way to start a review, is it? And yet that's exactly the way I've started this review of it. So, let me give you a little of my backstory....
I missed the original airing of this series and happened across all 13 episodes of it being offered 'on demand' on HBO cable his past weekend (April 2007). I'd never heard of it at that point but I did notice at that moment when I happened across it, that it had Lisa Kudrow in it and so I thought I'd watch it just because of that. That she was in it.
So I watched episode six first.
And I was kinda bored.
And when I was finished watching episode six I just thought ...oh .... uh ..... whatever. So, following that viewing of episode six of "The Comeback" I watched something else next.
But, well, that day was a slow TV day plus it was cold outside plus I'd flipped around through the other umpteen channels that day and nothing else was on that was even remotely watchable, so I came back to "The Comeback" and decided to just jump ahead and watch the last episode -- episode number thirteen, thinking that, well, even if it was a boring episode too at least I would know what happened. That at least I'd know how the whole thing ended...cause ...well... that one episode that I'd already watched, ... you know... episode six, ... it had kinda sorta already made me kind of wonder what had happened, you know... wondered how it ended...
So, regardless of how boring it was and probably was, I watched the last episode (#13) as the second one of this series that I watched. And I was drawn in a little more, cause there are some really awful feelings that come out during that episode, the last episode in the series, which I felt really strangely and really deeply about. Mostly because I didn't know what was going on. But I kinda sorta did. And I felt kind of embarrassed for them all. But I couldn't help noticing how deeply this story bored into me as I watched that episode, drilling into me down to a level that was unusual for me to feel, especially given the show's (still, to me) tepid hollow nature.
I did notice, however, that episode #13 did gave a decent payoff.
So, I decided to watch another episode and thought I'd better just watch the episode before episode #13, in case all the episodes really were all boring and that maybe this, episode 13, the last episode, was the best it was going to get. So I watched episode 12. And I was stunned to find myself being drawn in a little more. And so I kind of wanted to watch #11 by then so I did. Then I just decided I'd better watch the rest of them.
So I did. In order. But backwards, counting down from then onward to the first episode, counting down to number one.
And, as I did, I began to "get it".
And I began to understand what they were doing, and how incredible Lisa Kudrow was actually being, in this remarkable achievement. And each time I dropped back an episode I became more and more incredulous at how they had, and were, and did, and were still doing, the whole cast and crew, were, impossibly, yet still doing it, were turning all this boring stuff into something ...something... incredible.
And as the episodes rolled backwards I actually changed from being bored to being totally engrossed.
I began to laugh out loud once I began to "get it". And I started to actually tear up a little, and I begin to understand that somehow, this was a show how, from the seemingly dull and boring and slow and kind of mindless they were being, which was more than just the obvious wickedness they were also being, after I got past the idea it was boring, I realized they were creating something much much more, much much richer. They had looked into this woman's soul and they had found not only her, but had found her, the character, her humanity.
And it became clear that all of the cast were actually being all they could be in these roles and building a platform upon which Lisa Kudrow stood. And then marvelously, way up there above and beyond, she delivered something so worthy of all the effort it took to hold her up there, that I began to realize (with a breathless kind of start and shock and awe and in reverence), that she did them, the cast holding her up there, justice. And she did us, the audience, justice. And she did her own self justice. And she did the character justice.
And she brought honor even upon her own family, for this is something they can be proud of from her in a way that is universal.
Which, if you think about it, is a really weird yet weirdly wonderful thing for a casual reviewer to say. Yet here I am, typing it out for the whole world to read.
For, in fact, she brought humanity to this woman, the real humanity of exactly how this woman would live in our world as it is today.
Ms. Kudrow (she's so good, I can't just call her casually by her first name anymore) portrayed, in this character, life as it really is.
No matter who you are or what you do, most people, when it comes down to it, deep inside, have the same fears and hopes and dreams and ways of getting along in the world. But, like we all do, we all still remain wanting what ever it is we want.
By the time I'd come to the end (or really to the beginning, the end of episode one) I was enormously sad that this was all there would ever be of this series and that I would never again be able to have the joy of seeing it all for the first time.
And I'm so glad I watched it in the way I did, for it was the best way to see it.
Though there will be no more episodes, its okay. For this series, these 13 episodes, compose a masterpiece. It's the Citizen Kane of the work of our generation of storytelling. I predict that over time "The Comeback" will rise in esteem just as "Its a Wonderful Life" did. "The Comeback" is just that good and worthy.
I hope you "get it". I sure did.
(I revised this review in 2019 and know there eventually was a second series, but I left my original thoughts about how I thought then I'd never get to see more episodes and what it meant to me at that time. If you haven't seen "The Comeback" you really should. It's a masterpiece.)