Why Found-Again? Years ago, I had a bad habit of watching whatever came on TV after Heroes. This sometimes had unexpected results: I expected to like Journeyman and hated it with a burning loathing, but enjoyed My Own Worst Enemy even though star Christian Slater was never my cup of tea. A few weeks ago, I set out to discover whether that was just the rosy glow of being better than the Heroes seasons I would later refer to as Thomas Hardy’s Matt of the Parkmanvilles, or if the series had genuine merit.
The Premise: Generic businessman Henry suffers a neurological glitch that reveals his alter ego, superspy Edward, who has apparently been James Bonding all over the world for democracy for quite some time. The split personality, deliberately induced by the agency Henry/Edward works for (Henry works for the “legitimate” business upstairs, Edward gets his orders from the basement levels), is suddenly malfunctioning. With the help of a few trusted associates, Henry and Edward have to figure out how to coexist without endangering the world, their own survival, or Henry’s personal life.
I’d forgotten in the years since it went off the air that My Own Worst Enemy was the creation of Daniel “Carnivàle” Knauf. Given that the latter is one of my favorite TV shows, I hope that someday I’ll be able to say the phrase “…that Knauf series that was allowed to finish its complete run unhindered.” (A look at his IMDb entry doesn’t inspire hope, but did inspire me to add last year’s Dracula series to my Netflix queue. If all goes well, I’ll soon have three shows to whine and quote Macbeth’s “untimely ripp’d” line about.)
One impressive facet of the show was its star: Christian Slater, an actor to whom my lifelong response had been along the lines of “…Yep, that’s Christian Slater, all right,” did a great job playing two very different characters who didn’t like each other much. It’s clear for most of the series whether you’re looking at Edward or Henry at any given moment, and it gave me new respect for the actor, especially since he’s playing opposite Alfre Woodard, Madchen Amick, and James “The Reason I Watch Part Of LA Confidential Peeking Through My Fingers And Whimpering” Cromwell.
At the same time, the premise was showing definite signs of fatigue by the end of the series’ eight-episode run, even with the complications of finding out what happened to Edward’s parents and the vagaries of the disparate personalities’ love lives. The last episode did end on a heck of a cliffhanger, though, and with Cromwell as a possible villain, My Own Worst Enemy could still have been going places.
The Verdict: I’ve said before that my goodwill can be bought with spy crap, and My Own Worst Enemy is a fun take on the genre. I’m not sure the main idea could have been taken much farther, but it would have been nice to see the show get a chance to try.
The entire series is available on DVD quite cheaply from Amazon. These promos are kind of bad, though.
Might go well with: Burn Notice; Carnivàle; a home-cooked meal.
Next time: The other
white meat MacLeod.