Grosse Pointe,” the show within a show from TV wonderkid Darren Star (“Melrose Place,” “Sex and the City”) uses a fictional nighttime drama as a conduit for juicy Hollywood gossip and biting satire. The approach doesn’t name names — it’s reportedly an amalgam of shows that Star has worked on — but it doesn’t take a genius to pick up on the many similarities to Star’s “Beverly Hills, 90210.”
Star, a graduate of the write- what-you-know school of journalism, provides an entertaining palette of characters, including two neurotic producers (one which presumably represents Star), several opportunistic crew members and cache of prima donna stars.
Undoubtedly, the fun of the show is trying to guess how much of it is based in truth and how much is inflated for comedic purposes. Obviously, Star hit very close the target, considering Aaron Spelling, exec producer of “90210” and father of Tori, requested a few changes in the pilot episode — namely those involving one particularly insecure starlet with an eating disorder.
The Spelling edits aren’t much missed, considering there’s Hunter Fallow (Irene Molloy), a Shannen Doherty-like diva who takes great pains to maintain her dominance on the show, and Quentin King (Kohl Sudduth) a teen idol desperately trying to hide his age and receding hairline.
Considering a send-up of “90210,” no matter how cleverly done, would have a shelf life of approximately one episode, Star expands the satirical scope to skewer not just Hollywood, but teens and pop culture, as well. In particular, the show plays up the absurdities of “Grosse Pointe’s” scripts, and how openly Hollywood sells a distorted view of reality, especially to teens.
Judging from the success of recent spoofs like “Scary Movie,” there’s proof that younger audiences can appreciate a good joke, even if it’s at their own expense. Better still, “Grosse Pointe” has the potential to expand beyond the WB’s younger-skewed audiences, and appeal to those who appreciate something a little more sophisticated than “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.”
The show, shot entirely in single-camera format, not only creates a sense of realism and intimacy, but plays up the inherent comedy as well. Pilot director Andrew Fleming keeps the joke going by following each character closely and zooming in for reaction shots.
Show also benefits from a clever selection of actors who fit the bill as the young Turks thrown into instant stardom, and the tentative producers, played by William Ragsdale and Joely Fisher, who serve as their ringleaders.
Tech credits are first rate, reflecting the behind-the-scenes of a behind-the-scenes approach, particularly Barbara Dunphy’s revealing production design. Mark Mothersbaugh’s original music also does a nice job of capitalizing on the show’s pop culture sentiments.