My Own Worst Enemy

The concept of My Own Worst Enemy – an average suburban joe doesn’t know he has a government-controlled second identity as a hitman – feels like it should either be a film comedy or a cheap cable action show meant in part for the international markets. I was convinced that they thought they were making something more serious by the fact that they cast the ever-respectable Alfre Woodard (and gave her a line that started with “I am of the opinion…”, a structure I have a weakness for.

In creating this, there were some tricky decisions to make. It would’ve been easy to start with just Henry, the non-hitman identity, slowly discovering the truth about who he is. The problem with that is that the revelation would’ve been seen as ludicrous; the whole concept that the government spends millions maintaining this split identity to no visible advantage is a hard concept to sell. By launching with that first thing, there’s no question of selling it; it’s a matter of “here’s what is, and if you’re going to ride this ride, you’ll have to accept it.”

On the other hand, by not starting in that way, we don’t build an association with Henry. Since Edward, the killer personality, is the first one we see, the viewer sees Henry as just Edward in a mask, even if Henry doesn’t know it. And since it turns out that Edward is the true identity and Henry is the manufactured one, trying to root for the everyman in this case is trying to be concerned about the life of a shadow. While they try to make moments around the sort of introspection that would make this matter, that would somehow help the reader associate the personality he was given with the personalities we each adopt, it didn’t work, didn’t sell me.

In the end, this came across as a lot of money and some serious effort thrown at something that money and effort can’t make work. Oh, and at a car ad. Yes, it’s one of those where a certain brand of car is treated as a key figure. Other apparent product placement occurs as well. So they ain’ t making this show for you, and certainly not for me, they’re making it for the advertisers. Used to be, they made shows for you and me so that we would watch the advertisements, but they seem to have skipped that middle step.

Published in: on October 14, 2008 at 3:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

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