Patrick Stewart continues in top form in the second installment of Blunt Talk, picking up from the end of the premiere. Walter Blunt, a privileged news personality, collapsed on live television during a last-ditch attempt to save his career. Viewers are constantly drawn into his state of mind whether through trapeze scenes from classic films or in this instance, a dance sequence with Walter himself. The circular formation of the showgirls and the music are reminiscent of the opening of Family Guy, executive producer Seth MacFarlane’s program.
Walter’s dream ends as he gazes into a mirror at his younger self, his mother, and his valet Harry Chandler (Adrian Scarborough). I read the mirror as a symbol of Walter’s vanity and self-centered tendencies, which are further embodied in the image of himself as a child. Indeed, Walter is still very much a child at heart, tying in well with bedtime story segments later.
Predictably, Walter wakes up much to the relief of his team, believing that he’s had a near-death experience. He feels compelled to “be a better father to the American people” and make his broadcasts matter. However, his station manager (Romany Malco) wants him to cover a hurricane in Galveston because almost dying is good for ratings. Walter reluctantly takes the assignment, but soon sees it as an opportunity to call attention to the evils of climate change.
Walter has domestic troubles, too. He’s annoyed about the new neighbor, Ronnie (Brett Gelman), who runs a porn film studio and throws wild house parties. Ronnie’s volleyball ruins Walter’s painting of a nude Harry, who is particularly well-endowed in a certain area.
There is a great, funny scene in the airport as Walter tries to make his flight to Galveston. Admittedly, viewers would probably dislike Walter for being so pretentious and (at times) rude. Nonetheless, one can’t help but feel for him during his predicament as he encounters a long line of empty soap dispensers and inactive sinks. Missing the plane to Galveston is a huge blow to Walter, but he still manages to “cover” the story anyway. “Anderson Cooper would never be this creative!” he exclaims. That is if “coverage” involves hoses, porn movies and “Singing in the Rain!”
Unfortunately for Walter, the storm is downgraded and no longer deserving of any network coverage. The health department also arrives for an inspection, setting Ronnie into a panic (and discovery).
Much of the humor comes from Walter’s self-importance, whether it’s through the dream sequence, his entourage of brightly colored cars heading for the studio, and his frequent comparisons to Anderson Cooper. But the best moments occur during the bedtime stories, with such selections as Winnie the Pooh, Rabelais (a satirical French author), the Qur’an (Harry’s preference), and The Once and Future King. Together they sum up Walter’s immaturity and inflated ego, culminating with his choice of T. H. White’s Arthurian novel. The question is whether Walter will reach the top of his field and fulfill his quest, or sabotage himself along the way. Time will tell.
Blunt Talk airs on Starz Saturday nights at 9:00 p.m. ET
This post was originally published on Blogcritics.org as “TV Review: Patrick Stewart’s ‘Blunt Talk.’”