John P. Johnson/HBO
November 10, 2014 at 03:45 AM EST

The Comeback

type
TV Show
Current Status
On Hiatus
seasons
2
run date
06/05/05
performer
Lisa Kudrow
genre
Drama, Comedy

It’s a good thing Valerie chose this exact moment to shoot that pilot. Because her publicist—played as ever by Dan Bucatinsky, who also created Web Therapy with Kudrow—has some news to deliver, right before he delivers Top Chef alum Carla Hall (hootie hoo!) to a Top Chef Superchef All Star reunion show: Ex-Room and Bored creator Paulie G. just inked a deal with HBO. He’s making a series called Seeing Red, which charts a self-destructive TV writer’s experiences on the set of the crappy sitcom he created—a crappy sitcom that stars a neurotic, “older” actress. Whose name… is Mallory Church.

http://youtu.be/G2jUhnCU9iA

Naturally, Mallory—er, Valerie—is incensed. The script, or at least the few pages she can bring herself to read, casts her as an antagonistic monster. This could be even worse for her image than the Cupcake Incident. Mark offers to call their lawyers, who can send a Cease and Desist notice to HBO. But after crashing Andy Cohen’s lunch with RuPaul at the Chateau Marmont, Valerie has a different, wonderful, awful idea. Andy clearly won’t work with her again unless she’s willing to go Housewife big—flipping over a table, or ordering her costar to GO TO SLEEPor tossing her wooden leg across the room. So she decides to storm HBO’s offices with her college crew and demand to see “someone in charge of Seeing Red.”

Ridiculous thing #1: Valerie happens to arrive on the day that the network is auditioning actresses to play Mallory Church. (In the running: Kathryn Hahn, Chelsea Handler, Meredith from The Office.) Ridiculous thing #2: When Sharon from HBO appears and finds Valerie at the front desk, she believes she’s there to audition for Mallory, rather than to shut down the entire production. Ridiculous thing #3: Even after the misunderstanding is cleared up, Valerie decides to do a cold reading for the part… and she absolutely nails it. Which may not say much about her acting ability, but is still enough to convince the big brass that she’s the right fit for their show. (Quoth one executive after Valerie leaves the room: “I don’t know what that was, but I’ve gotta have more of it. Is that weird?”)

And so the hall of mirrors that is The Comeback gets an extra wing. Valerie’s in; the rest of the season will chart her Möbius-esque descent. When we see shots from Seeing Red‘s fake sitcom, we’ll officially be watching a show (the sitcom) within a show (Seeing Red) within a show (the fake Comeback) within a show (the real Comeback). Fasten your seat belts, everyone; it’s gonna be a bumpy night.

Extras

—Valerie’s surprisingly nuanced relationship with Juna—Room and Bored‘s hot, young rising star, played with wide-eyed charm by Malin Akerman—was one of the highlights of The Comeback‘s first season. Unfortunately, it won’t be a fixture on season 2; Valerie runs into Juna, who’s become a big movie star in the past decade, just briefly enough to learn that she’s going to be out of town for three months shooting a movie in which she falls in love with a robot. Another nice nod to the real world: Kellan Lutz’s character has also become super famous in the universe of The Comeback.

—Mark’s daughter Francesca is mentioned but not shown, maybe because actress Vanessa Marano is currently busy filming ABC Family’s Switched at Birth. The Comeback: What a career starter!

—Ugh, of course Paulie is smoking an e-cig.

—Bless his heart, Mickey still uses a flip phone with an antenna.

—Will Seeing Red be as punishing and humiliating for Valerie as Room and Bored was? Given the surprisingly sensitive monologue she recites in her audition—in which “Mallory” takes Fake Paulie G. to task for trying to make her into a joke—I’m sensing (and hoping) that the answer will be “no.” Maybe rehab actually turned him into a kinder, gentler guy!

—Do you need even more Valerie before episode two next week? Here, feast your eyes on this bonus feature from the season 1 DVD set—in which Val describes turning down “the lead role in a TV movie about a woman who’s raped by her entire town.”

http://youtu.be/la5LK5vLzS4

—Who’s hungry? I could really go for a bento box and a Philly cheese curry.

Follow me on Twitter: @hillibusterr

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