“It was a good move on the former TV siren’s behalf ordering the twelve cheeseburgers instead of one the last time she drove through Jack-in-the-Box – it lead the way to an original sitcom concept” – Clint Morris
Kirstie Alley, Michael McDonald, Brian Callen, Rachel Harris, Kelly Preston, Mayim Bialik
Yes, it’s a pity that she had to add the extra tyre or two to her usually slender build – but without the extra padding, Kirstie Alley would never have had the opportunity to make such a series as “Fat Actress”. If not taking the Mickey out of her over-sized butt, then what? Life after “Cheers”? – We’ve seen that with Larry David’s post-“Seinfeld” pleasantry “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, and the ‘day in the life’ thing, that’s been done to death with everyone from Anna Nicole Smith to The Osbournes’ headlining a reality series. So in essence, it was a good move on the former TV siren’s behalf ordering the twelve cheeseburgers instead of one the last time she drove through Jack-in-the-Box – it lead the way to an original sitcom concept.
Similar in structure to the aforesaid “Curb your Enthusiasm”, Alley plays a version of herself in this fluffed-up lampoon. This Alley is a has-been – not too far from the truth – who lives in a good-looking manor flanked by two assistants, and spends most of her days shoving food down her throat and frankly, getting bigger and bigger.
Most of the show revolves around efforts to get Alley – desperate to return to TV or film – to lose weight. It gets rather silly at times, but is still always entertaining. Former “Blossom” star Mayim Bialik plays herself, a flabby has-been who lives down the road from Alley and takes on a sort of semi-villain role throughout the series, to much amusement, and several famous faces, including John Travolta and Geoffrey Lewis, stop by for cameos, either playing themselves or characters that enter and leave the former “Cheers” star’s life.
Unfortunately, it’s those ‘guest appearances’ thing that hinders the enjoyment of the series. Whilst Larry David gets unknowns to play the people in his life or merely has the ‘actor’ play themselves (i.e. Ted Danson is Ted Danson, Richard Lewis is Richard Lewis), Alley casts recognizable actors in the roles of her friends, co-workers and family members. She makes us believe that this is the ‘Alley’ of today, and yet ruins the pretence by having a familiar face like Christopher McDonald (her co-star in “Veronica’s Closet”) play her brother, or Kelly Preston play her diet consultant. It becomes all too apparent that this is ‘fluff’ once we see the actor behind the character. She really should’ve gone the “Curb” route and cast either the real person as the character or an unknown.
“Fat Actress” isn’t a bad show, it does have some amusing moments and is a lot more entertaining than watching Anne Nicole swallow an unripe banana for 20 minutes, but it really needed to be put back in the oven for an extra few minutes to brown.
The video and audio is up to scratch, and if you can be bothered, there’s commentary on several of the episodes – firstly, by the cast, and then, the producers. The former bunch are more entertaining than the sleepish producers.
On Disc 3, there are a few more bonuses – a making of, premiere party footage, deleted scenes, interviews and plugs for other stuff.
Reviewer : Clint Morris