Call Me Fitz: The Complete Second Season Review

Audiences in the states might not be familiar with Jason Priestley’s show Call Me Fitz, and that’s largely due to its currently exclusive run on HBO Canada. When an American sitcom ends up on HBO it usually means there’s a specific niche audience or the writing has a lot of sexually or linguistically explicit content, and in the case of Call Me Fitz that remains true. What makes it an unusual show by HBO standards is the below par writing. The show consistently mistakes swagger, bravado and chauvinism for comedy, and doesn’t realize that those aspects alone don’t make it “darkly” comic. The selfish antics of the Fitz and his constantly recurring comeuppance as the main source of comedy gets old fast, especially as his supposedly improving sense of morality seems static, even if the second season makes him equal parts asshole and victim.

The last season saw Fitz (Priestley) lose his car dealer license, and the fact that he’s permanently at odds with his father (Peter MacNeill) means his professional life has all but dried up. His only choice now is to do all the wheeling and dealing out on the lot and let his self-proclaimed, externally localized conscience, Larry (Ernie Grunwald) handle the paperwork. Rather quickly though, the second season shows itself to be one of death and doom. After a few misadventures to get the season off and running, one of Fitz’s close associates winds up dead and the blame falls on his head. Combine that with his role in the family business being usurped by his father’s new hire Dot Foxley (Amy Sloan) and the Indian brothers (Huse Madhavji, Shaun Shetty) across the street plotting their downfall, and Fitz’s self-centered worldview has to change if he’s going to get through it all alive (with a black eye or two).

Overall the writing for Call Me Fitz improves from the first season, but at its core remains the problematic error of how the writers think comedy works. It’s as if they took lessons from the Entourage school of writing and then pile all of its faults into one character: Fitz. Writing a character to be a douchebag who, by another character’s very existence, evidently has a conscience that’s capable of being humiliated separate from Fitz himself makes the transition of the main character into a good human being impossible. Separating the id from the ego might make for some amusing characterizations, but it completely destroys any attempts at an overall story arch about redeeming the rampant ego. And because all of us have id and egos within ourselves, Fitz’s unrestrained antics initially seem freeing and allow us to daydream of doing the same, but ultimately our own ids kick in and his behavior seems like that of a petulant child who week after week does whatever he likes.

DVD Bonus Features

If you thought my reaction to the show’s use of profanity as its presumed edge was an overreaction, just look at its “Profanity as Art” featurette. The writers and producers clearly think that profanity for profanity’s sake is worthwhile, whereas the best shows (like Deadwood) knew how to use it for a purpose. Not everyone can be David Mamet. The rest of the featurettes highlight the Fitz family dynamic, the introduction of the Dot Foxley character, a blooper reel, cast interviews, and a basic look behind-the-scenes.

"Call Me Fitz: The Complete Second Season" is on sale March 13, 2012 and is not rated. Comedy, Drama. Directed by Jason Priestley, Scott Smith. Written by Sheri Elwood, Dennis Heaton. Starring Brooke Nevin, Ernie Grunwald, Jason Priestley, Amy Sloan, Peter Macneill.

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


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