DVD REVIEW: CALL ME FITZ SEASON 1

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02.24.2013

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MSRP $14.95

RATED Not Rated

STUDIO Entertainment One

RUNNING TIME 364 Minutes

SPECIAL FEATURES

• Trailer

• The Genesis of Fitz

• The Casting of Fitz

• Blooper Reel

• Season 2 Sneak Peek

The Pitch

Jason Priestly fills that Kenny Powers shaped hole in your heart.

The Humans

Jason Priestly, Peter MacNeill, Kathleen Munroe, Brooke Nevin, Tracy Dawson, Donavan Stinson, and Ernie Grunwald

The Nutshell

Morally bankrupt car salesman Richard “Fitz” Fitzpatrick (Jason Priestley) is forced to become business partners with his inner conscience, Larry (Ernie Grunwald), an offbeat do-gooder intent on healing Fitz’s mangled psyche, one hilarious disaster at a time.

You’re welcome

The Lowdown

Call Me Fitz is a Canadian TV series starring Jason Priestly as Richard Fitzpatrick (the nickname is self-explanatory), a narcissistic asshole with a smart mouth, a drinking problem, and a complete lack of responsibility for his own actions.

Fitz has steamrolled over the lives of everyone he encounters, especially when it comes to the women he frequently beds. The fact that Fitz is a car salesman has nothing to do with his horrible qualities, they just make him ideal for the role of a slick liar who manipulates people into buying things they don’t need.

But on a fatefully routine day he swerves to miss a rabbit on a test drive and sends a car careening off the road into a ditch. He pulls the now comatose potential buyer into the driver’s seat and is witnessed by a group of girl scouts. Fitz is now up on criminal charges for negligence and maybe even manslaughter if the comatose woman dies.

I’m getting this written on my tombstone.

Enter Larry (Played by professional walk-on extra Ernie Grunwald), an impossibly kind man who claims that he is Fitz’s conscience made flesh. Larry makes Fitz promise that they will be business partners until he can set Fitz back on the straight and narrow.

The plot here is kind of a mash-up of My Name is Earl and Willard, but the writing is more reminiscent of Eastbound and Down. Fitz is a morally reprehensible man and really shows no sign of changing. Of course once you meet the people around him, particularly his parents (played by Peter MacNeill and Joanna Cassidy) it becomes understandable why he is the way he is.

Playing hard to get.

Jason Priestly was probably the best actor to cast in this role. He plays Fitz’s moral turpitude with perfect timing, but he’s just too likeable for the audience to ever hate him as much as any of the characters in the show. He throws himself fully into the character’s shameless personality and part of the humor of the role is his non-reactions to really fucked up things.

It also helps that Priestly is a talented enough actor to make all of Richard’s pathos believable. Fitz is a very damaged man and it’s in those scenes where his cocky veneer drops for very brief moments that Priestly really earns his paycheck; he has very emotive eyes and he can sell a whole broken childhood on a vacant stare.

Ernie Grunwald is similarly brilliant and perfectly cast as Larry. Grunwald is almost freakishly tall and has very exaggerated features that make him look rather cartoonish. This helps to sell Larry’s naively innocent “aw shucks” personality. Why this guy has been cooling his heels in glorified extra purgatory for so many years is an honest conundrum. Grunwald is a perfect yin to Priestly’s yang and they play off of each other wonderfully.

Who doesn’t?

The writing here is great. There are so many memorable moments and lines and while I’ve seen a lot of messed up comedies, this one goes places I’ve never really seen a series go. Richard goes to reconnect with his mother only to arrive on the day she throws a swingers party, he films a porno at the car lot for his father’s birthday in an attempt to show his appreciation, he has a one night stand with a mentally retarded girl that he falls for because the sex was incredible, he marries a coma victim, steals a body, and he’s happy when he gets Syphilis because it means he doesn’t have to donate a kidney.

The material is all extremely tasteless and it’s hilarious how over-the-top the writers make it. But the cast is just so likeable and has such good chemistry that everything works and the show never feels too mean-spirited or ugly.

I have no idea why, but it’s the flip flops that really make this picture funny to me.

The only weak link of the season is the second episode, Loco, which doesn’t bring much funny or story development. Fortunately the show finds its legs pretty quickly after than and the other 11 episodes are all great.

This is a masterpiece of a TV show and I can’t begin to recommend it enough. If you’re a fan of shows like Willard or Eastbound and Down then you owe it to yourself to check it out.

A visual representation of everything this show’s about.

The Package

As someone who grew up with Canadian television that looked and sounded like shit, it bewilders me to see that Fitz looks like a professionally produced TV broadcast. Admittedly, I just got whatever public television deemed worthy to send across the border but it colored my impressions for the bad.

There’s not a lot of special features, but there don’t need to be. There’s a short 2-minute featurette on how writer Sheri Elwood (Flash Forward) came up with the idea for the characters and another where she talks about how they casted the characters. There’s some bloopers and a couple trailers.

Rating:
★★★★★

Out of a Possible 5 Stars



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