The Comeback (TV Series 2005– ) Poster

(2005– )

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Dead on...
davelit18 July 2005
This show is brilliant and Lisa Kudrow is amazing in it. If you've ever lived in LA, you already know this is closer to reality than any of the shows it satirizes.

Comparisons to the BBC version of "The Office" are inevitable. This show is probably as good as that critical darling, and it might be even better.

I've heard that it hasn't been renewed, which is a shame, as it's certainly much smarter than Darren Starr's other HBO hit, the long-running "Sex and the City.

Kudos to HBO and all involved for taking a chance on this risky and smart and painfully funny show.
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10/10
Phoebe is dead
alexhornbye315 September 2005
I have just had the pleasure of seeing the entire season of The Comeback. I cannot believe the poor reception this series has had with the viewing public of America. The writing and performances from all concerned are outstanding. The situations are extreme, but then how many of us have the insight into the makings of a TV sitcom. Even so, it always seems believable. Kudos to Kudrow for creating one of the most likable, infuriating, delicious, yet tragic characters to grace TV for a long while. And special mention to Lance Barber for instilling Paulie G with so much venom and hatred to create one of the most loathsome. So many good moments crammed into each episode this series demands repeat viewing. I caught an ep. of Friends shortly afterwards, and could not watch Phoebe (or indeed any of the contrived, poorly scripted nonsense I had so previously enjoyed) without seeing Big Red behind the drippy one-liners. I will most definitely watch it again and again when it comes to the UK.

(To Tom Selleck on the phone: "Well, maybe I'll call you again if they decide to revive my big beaver...")
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Kudrow at her best - "Comeback" Delivers
thurstonkp15786 June 2005
Lisa Kudrow truly shines in her new HBO vehicle, "The Comeback." Playing Valerie Cherish, a former B-list sitcom star, Kudrow injects her outstanding comedic timing and delivery into every joke, whether it be an embarrassing situation or a humiliating video confessional. The former Friends star has surrounded herself with very little big names, leaving Kudrow herself to carry the show. While the world of failed actors and actresses in Los Angeles will probably not take too kindly to this, one who truly understands the inner- workings of pilot season and the Hollywood community will find the jokes hit their target dead-on. HBO has found their next hit in this dramedy, and pairing it with Entourage makes perfect sense. Be sure to check this out.
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I'm proud of Hbo for this...
MusicalKat7 June 2005
I have not been too happy with some of the shows portraying people in the business. They have usually been SO over the top that it sucks the jokes right out of it. Having seen THE COMEBACK tonight I'm very happy to say that this one is right on the money! It's funny and has a fresh take on what it means to be in this business and Lisa Kudrow is quiet Genius in her delivery (the way comedy should be!) A mockumentary should be just that...making fun without hitting us over the head with the punchlines. I think HBO has delivered yet another first rate show that of course I'm already hooked on. Thanks! and I can't wait for the next episode.
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A brilliant comedy with incisive touches
Paul-27126 July 2005
I ran into this one on my HBO on demand last Sunday. For the first time I can remember, I was riveted to my TV. I watched all six or so (the total taped) episodes in one sitting.

The show is an interesting mix of TV-land looking at, and poking fun at itself. Keep in mind that this is a show within a show. We are supposed be be watching the outtakes from a reality show where the reality is a washed up, over aged (by TV standard) actress gets the nod to first star in, and then have a bit role in a new TV show. The show within the show is an updated version of Three's Company.

We get to watch the Kudrow character's attempt at being the center of attraction until she wises up that she's not the center of this universe as she was on her show of 20 years ago. The catch is watching this actress play an actress who evolves and adapts quickly to her new situation. She absorbs a lot of ridicule along the way - more than most folks could take. Rather than lash out and risk her gig, she smiles, pretends to go along with the gags where she is the butt of the joke and then makes minor adjustments based on her new perception of her role in this new world where she is no longer the star, but the comedic relief.

Like a Woody Allen movie, Kudrow's place both as the star and producer of the show give her too much time to make a lot of noise and too much screen time emoting monologues. However, even at her worst, she's not the ego maniac that Allen is so at worst, it's a bit too much, but still tolerable.

Whatever the outcome of this show, I think Kudrow has proved that she has range and talent well beyond what most folks thought she had.
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An underrated gem for HBO, Kudrow and King triumph in satirizing a bleak TV landscape
liquidcelluloid-120 October 2006
Network: HBO; Genre: Comedy, Satire, Parody; Content Rating: TV-MA (profanity, adult content, nudity, sexual humor); Available: DVD; Perspective: Cult Classic (star range: 1 - 5)

Seasons Reviewed: Complete Series (1 season)

In early 90s Valerie Cherish (Lisa Kudrow) was the It girl on a hit sitcom called "I'm It". Now, in the new millennium with the death of the sitcom looming on the horizon and reality shows (band-aids on a problem that are themselves starting to peel off) providing has-been celebrities a temporary life-line back onto TV, Valerie gets a chance to make a comeback in the form of a reality series. "The Comeback", the show within the one we are watching, documents her new career taking a bit role on a network sitcom called "Room & Bored". As the documentary cameras intrude on Valerie's life and her not-so-photogenic real life intrudes on the reality show and "Room & Bored" (plagued with problems from the beginning) itself continues to fall apart, Valerie all the while maintains a phony smile and naively optimistic attitude about the whole thing.

"The Comeback" is a triumph for both co-creators. An acting triumph for Kudrow who explodes in a volcano of talent that laid dormant for 10 years on "Friends". A creative triumph for Michael Patrick King who answers the call to follow up one of TV's all time best shows in "Sex and the City" by making not one new show, but three in one. Now, that mean streak the bubbled under the surface of "Sex", but was forced down by the show's romanticism gets to break out and attack.

Kudrow is absolutely brilliant here, effortlessly carrying the series with naturally comic instincts. As a personality that was associated with everything that is young and hip for so long, it is incredibly bold the way Kudrow fully embraces a role as an unlikable out-of-touch, over-the-Hollywood-hill actress. She disappears into Valerie, who is something like Shelly Long and Katharine Hepburn doing David Brent. "Comeback" is a one-woman showcase, built around Valerie suffering one indignity after another (many involving "Bored's" co-creator, Paulie G, who absolutely hates her) while she smiles for the cameras, pushes her emotions down and explains away every disaster unfolding in front of her face. It is often heartbreaking and painful to watch. When Valerie could just as easily have been a punchline, Kudrow gives her a nuanced depth with layer upon layer of repressed, passive-aggressive behavior. She gets buy out of a sheer single-minded fortitude for attention and "to be heard". So much of this performance is in what she doesn't say, a pain behind her eyes. She was Emmy robbed.

I've always admired King's desire and ability to make TV more than the audience's low expectations allow. He respects his audience and trusts our intelligence to get it. Not many people will be comfortable with a comedy like "Comeback" symbolically structured like a Greek tragedy or take the time to analyze King's endless world of visual metaphors. "Comeback" is a deeply thought out show about shallow TV. Here King breaks apart both the reality series and the sitcom, then cobbles them together flawlessly.

Kudrow and King hopelessly cage Valerie in an entertainment chasm where sitcoms are dying but the quick-fix solution of reality shows turns out to be even more dangerous. Every other show that has poked fun at this genre always does so with an admiring wink and nod. On the contrary, King has no love for reality TV. He shows the clutter of a 3-man camera crew crashing through a room before its subject walks in. He shows the participants editing, re-editing and contriving their own lives for the cameras. He goes beyond showing the participants being manipulated in editing, he shows them being violated by the cameras for cheap laughs that are celebrated by a public that takes pleasure in mocking celebrities. "Comeback" gives us the sharpest and most honestly ugly look at the reality of reality TV you will see. Valerie slowly has the hope that this forum will get her back in the spotlight drained as she looses more and more control over her show.

That same downward glare is applied to sitcoms. As the other show within the show, "Room & Bored" is a perfectly awful parody of every youth-pandering network series that is fun to rip on but would probably be a solid hit if it was really on NBC or Fox. The sheer straight-faced nature of everything and the intricate detail King puts into making "Bored" believable makes it all the funnier. Just about every joke here works. From Juna (Malin Akerman) the sexy break-out star whose popularity swallows up the show to a retooling attempt that jams 2 new characters into an already crowded mix, "Bored" appears to Jump the Shark several times. A combustible piece of fitful hilarity, "Valarie Hangs Out with the Cool Kids" maybe my favorite episode.

To the outside observer Lisa Kudrow's appearance as a once-sitcom star might make it look like "The Comeback" is sponging off her own sitcom. No, "Comeback" is a dark series, raw, messy and miserable. Valerie Cherish will probably scare the bejesus out of the average "Friends" fan. The laughs are found in humiliation, awkward silence and King's pension for injecting real world details everywhere. If there was any thought that the cringing humor of "The Office" couldn't be replicated in America, "Comeback" busts that up.

More consistent than "Curb Your Enthusiasm", a better Inside Hollywood show than "Entourage". King has laser-focused "The Comeback" as a contemporary satire about its specific time and place in the television timeline, yet the show so richly satisfying, complexly rendered and its breakout classic lead character is so unique that it is hard to forget or easily dismiss. A TV show for TV fans, "Comeback" is audience-challenging, utterly hilarious and very highly recommended.

* * * * / 5
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Finding its voice--finally!
Citigrrrl25 August 2005
I was initially unimpressed with The Comeback. Never having been a fan of Friends, I didn't feel any particular connection with Lisa Kudrow. But since I watch Entourage and it is the lead-in show, I kept the TV on. The first few shows had me wondering why Lisa Kudrow would want to do such a crappy show...but for some unexplainable reason, I kept watching. I feel like, now at nearly the end of the first season, that I "get" the show. I am glad that I stuck it out. There have been some very funny moments on the show. In fact I decided to watch the season over again with a different perspective and have gained more from the second viewing, (with On-Demand). The Palm Springs episode really did it for me. Since then the show has only gotten better. There are a lot of long pauses to the show. I think this is indicative of the character's inability to say what is really on her mind, but usually ends up putting her foot in her mouth anyway. The premise of the show seemed a little confusing at first, but it's not hard to put it all together. Valerie Cherish is a washed up TV actress trying to gracefully get back in the groove, but she really isn't all that graceful. At the same time a reality show is being made to follow her on her comeback trail. The characters grow on you--Valerie Cherish, her husband, step-daughter and text- messaging friends; Valerie's young cast-mates on her TV show Room and Bored, and the humorless writers; her longtime gay hairstylist who is still only half-way out of the closet; her always present reality crew waiting for something awful to happen so they can boost ratings on the possibly-dying reality TV genre. It is subtle comedy and it just needed a little bit of a chance to find its ground. Without the irritating laugh-tracks and corny music of most TV comedies, the quiet pauses on the show are not the negative, uncomfortable ones that I first disliked--now it is off and running. And I really do look forward to the show!
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Kudrow is Delighfully (and purposefully) Bad!
konky20006 June 2005
"The Comeback" is a well done blending of "The Office", "The Larry Sanders Show", and "Curb Your Enthusiasm". It is a fake reality show about an idiotic TV star that offers a parody of both reality TV and network sitcoms.

The show is composed of reality TV footage filmed during the life of a TV star from the 80's, played by Lisa Kudrow, trying to wage a career comeback by staring in a new TV sitcom. The twist is that rather than showing us a final edited fake reality TV show, the show is composed of outtakes from the fake reality TV show. We get to see the character redo lines that are supposed to be spontaneous reality, we see her continually tell the filmmakers to stop filming -- which they never do. And we even see the filmmakers themselves dealing with some of the logistical problems inherent in making this type of show.

What makes it all work is that Lisa Kudrow's character is a buffoon. She is totally delusional about how big of a star she is and the show asks us to laugh at her vanity and idiocy. She is a lot like the boss on BBC's "The Office", because she is a lead character we are meant to laugh and cringe at. At the same time, Kudrow gives her character just enough empathy that as much as we hate her we also feel sorry for her just a little bit. Knowing that Kudrow was so intimately involved in a network TV sitcom, makes the parody directed at sitcoms come across as very realistic and especially funny.

As long as you know that the show itself is supposed to be bad, and if you like the kind of comedy that is filled with cringe inducing moments of embarrassment, then you will like this show.
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Truly magnificent performance by Lisa Kudrow
Red_Identity7 May 2012
I have finally finished The Comeback. I started it because of the raves I heard about Kudrow, and let me tell you, they are completely deserved. Kudrow is magnificent here, she not only handles the comedy perfectly with the unique touch that she also had in Friends, but she develops Valerie with many different layers. It's not until the series goes by that those layers are peeled away, and we really truly understand Valerie as a whole. In the pilot episode, one is ready to say that Valerie is a little too full of herself, or naive. Her flaws are recognizable, and yet as more episodes go on, you not only learn to recognize her flaws clearly, but also learn to accept her as a human being. It's very easy to empathize with her, and Kudrow is completely mesmerizing in her most vulnerable moments.

Take a scene in the 12th episode where she tells the audience and the crew about her experience when she was younger, as a girl with a back brace. Kudrow plays it amazingly, with her character's usual sugar tone and with her deep sadness and hurt rising to the surface. But most importantly, she plays it all with her eyes. Moments like these are crucial to her character, and Kudrow is dynamite when it comes to playing the most hilarious moments and also the darkest. The show is pretty great, but it's great because Valerie Cherish is an expertly- written character, and because Kudrow gives one of the best comedic performances I have ever seen, both on the small and big screen. Anyone who hasn't seen this, do! Such a shame it only ran for one season, especially because the ending promised even more interesting things to come.
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Great New Show
ChaCha4427 June 2005
Lisa Kudrow stars in this new HBO vehicle as Valerie Cherish, a newly has-been actress who joins the cast of a "Three's Company" type show complete with bouncy, young newcomers who are the true stars of the show while she is relegated to playing the uptight, frumpy Aunt who lives above her niece and roommates. While she still feels herself relevant, youthful and sexy, she is by Hollywood's standards, day old bread. It's very interesting to watch someone who once was tabloid fodder descend to being incidental. Valerie Cherish is treated with polite, yet little respect from the young cast while the writers obviously feel disdain towards her. On top of all this is a reality show that is being filmed about her experience with her new show.

A brilliant portrayal of a person coming to grips with not having the world at her feet anymore and having to deal with watching the success that she once enjoyed and probably thought would never end being granted to the pretty blonde young star of the show.

I think this show is terrific and it always leaves you wanting more. Definitely worth checking out.
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