My first impression of The Brink (you can read it here) was a little less than favorable, but you could clearly see the potential of the show. Now that the show’s first season has finished and we know for sure HBO will be doing a second season, the question is, is that the right decision? The Brink has a lot going for it. With a truly wonderful supporting cast including John Larroquette, Erick Avari, Geoff Pierson, Meera Syal and Marshall Manesh, along with the undeniable star power of Black and Robbins, and the support of a network that cares less about ratings than getting people talking, it was almost inevitable that HBO would renew.
That’s good for the cast, because with a steadily diminishing viewership over the first season, The Brink isn’t any sort of ratings powerhouse. The Brink saw a respectable 1.6 million viewers for the premiere and a fairly disappointing, but passable 870,000 viewers for the finale. That means The Brink actually fared better than VEEP this past season. However, while Tim Robbins managed to pull off a passable performance, and the combo of Jack Black and Aasif Mandvi was certainly interesting to watch, the overall feel and flavor of the show just seemed to consistently miss the mark.
Pablo Schreiber and Eric Ladin’s story arc seemed repetitive and predictable while Jack Black was basically being corralled into his normal shtick. None of them saw any real, believable, natural growth and the outcome of each episode really only felt like an imitation of a substantive show. The potential of the show is still clearly visible just beneath the surface, but between the repetitive tropes, poor dialogue, campy style, and scene chewing performances, the show just never really clicks.
Part of the trouble with The Brink is that it seems to not really know if it’s a realistic dramedy style satire or a campy lampoon. With a mix of painfully plausible situations and outlandishly asinine caricatures, it’s difficult to nail down a real sense of self the show might be striving for.
Hopefully HBO can find a way to make The Brink more cohesive and give the cast a chance to really shine. A second season dealing with fallout of Season One’s comedy of errors really does have the potential to showcase a deeper palette for the writers and cast.
For me, the show never really sucked me in. I kept waiting for that break out moment when Aasif Mandvi and Jack Black would finally get into the groove of a tuned comedy duo, but it never came. I’m not sure if the on screen chemistry they seem to have is artificial or simply unrefined, but to me anyway, it just feels like if they could click, the show would have a real chance at being something more.
I’m willing to give season two a fair chance, but I’m not holding my breath. What do you think? Did you give The Brink a try? If you didn’t but want to then find it on HBONow/Go.