Sour and sweet
On Netflix show The Kominsky Method, two screen legends add pathos to the patter
“It’s a comedy without jokes,” is how one of Sandy Kominsky’s acting students introduces the incest-based screenplay she’s brought in to perform in class in new Netflix series The Kominsky Method. It’s not a bad description of The Kominsky Method itself either, given that the half-hour show comes from Chuck Lorre, creator of Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory (some might say he has previous). But while The Kominsky Method has
gentle comedic undertones and some weary punchlines, it is as a drama that it really delivers. Sandy, played by Michael Douglas, is an ageing actor who teaches aspirants auditioning for shampoo commercials while hoping his once-successful career may bloom again.
His long-standing agent, Norman, played by Alan Arkin, is on hand with the Weedol. The agent-actor dynamic is of course tried and tested (though Arkin’s character is the more Larry-Davidian) and their first encounter in episode one suggests we are settling in for a Statler and Waldorf rehash (Sandy: “Right out the gate you wanna bust my balls?” Norman: “They are a low-hanging fruit”). But stay with it, because very quickly The Kominsky Method shows itself to be more than tired hi-hat repartee. By the end of the first episode Norman has become a widower and, as the eight episodes progress, the tenderness between Norman and
Sandy is revealed. It’s certainly not hindered by having two stellar leads — Arkin in particular is wonderful — and in the end the corny one-liners come to feel less like the expression of bitter old age than the affirmation of a well-worn friendship.
The Kominsky Method launches on Netflix
on 16 November
Method acting: Alan Arkin andMichael Douglas