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Stay Tuned
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Monday, June 09, 2008

Is "Swingtown" the Most Provocative Thing to Ever Hit TV?

With all of the postponing of the show’s premiere, you’d think that “Swingtown” is the most provocative thing to ever hit television.

It isn’t. I see much more provocative stuff on Bravo every single week…

Granted, the pilot started out with a threesome, but it and all of the other attempts to shock us after that just came off rather lame.

If you missed it, “Swingtown” is the story of three couples and their families in the 1970s. In the pilot, Bruce and Susan Miller (Jack Davenport and Molly Parker) are moving to a new neighborhood. It’s just two blocks away, but for the Millers, it turns out to be a whole world away. Their new neighbors, Tom and Trina Decker (the wonderfully sleazy Grant Show and Lana Parrilla) are swingers and they’re looking for new recruits.

Meanwhile, the Millers’ old neighbors, Roger and Janet Thompson (Josh Hopkins and Miriam Shor) are struggling through their suburban existence knowing their friends Bruce and Susan are living in a world they don’t really understand or completely condone (or at least Janet doesn’t).

The Miller children are also struggling with the changing views of sex in the 1970s as B.J. (Aaron Howles) discovers “Penthouse” and Laurie (Shannon Collins) develops a crush on an older man—her teacher. Plus, B.J. meets Samantha (Britt Robertson), the girl next door, whose mother spends all of her time high on cocaine.

The mood of the show is beautifully set with the clothes, the décor, the lighting and the overall style, but the show tries a little too hard with the music. Obviously there’s an Internet tie-in, but it just gets to be a little too much.

There are some interesting stories here as it’s clear that there’s more than meets the eye between Susan and Roger—or at least I hope so since the fabulous Josh Hopkins got very little to do in the pilot. The possible pairing of the cute B.J. and Samantha has some promise and Grant Show is fantastic as the swinging airline pilot, Tom.

But instead of taking time to develop some real story, the pilot spent most of the hour finding different ways to shock us. The characters snort cocaine, pop qualudes and indulge in orgys—all of which, of course, completely seduce the Millers.

But unfortunately, not any of it was shocking. Maybe that’s because we’ve been so desanitized by today’s television. Maybe it’s because our morals have completely decayed.

Or maybe it’s because it was just plain pointless.

As I’ve said numerous times before, pilots are a tricky business. Obviously this one was more interested in trying to create something people would talk about than creating a good show.

Unfortunately, it didn’t really succeed at either…

“Swingtown” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on CBS…

You can watch the pilot episode for yourself here.