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HBO 'Comeback' isn't what viewers exactly expected



Published: Wed, July 20, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



HBO didn't renew the show for a second season.

By TERRY MORROW

SCRIPPS HOWARD

Michael Patrick King isn't sorry he followed up "Sex and the City" with an HBO comedy series that isn't garnering as much praise.

Audiences haven't rallied to "The Comeback," starring "Friends" actress Lisa Kudrow, as expected. Each week's episode generally draws less than 1 million viewers. Several high-profile critics have been lukewarm about the show, too.

King, though, says the show is dealing with a perception problem. He says there are many major TV critics who have written favorably about the show.

And regardless, he says he would not change anything about it to please audiences.

"For the people who get it, they really get it," King, who runs "The Comeback," and has written a few of its episodes, says during a phone interview.

"Coming off 'Sex and the City,' I think people thought this would be 'Sex and the City' meets 'Friends,' and it isn't. People were thrown by the fact it was a new idea."

"The Comeback" centers on Valerie Cherish, a needy middle-aged TV actress looking to jump-start her career by working as second banana on a sex comedy show.

Mixed reviews

The series has drawn mixed reviews and smaller ratings than "Sex," which was Emmy lauded and generally attracted 5 million viewers a week.

Likewise, Kudrow's "Friends" was the top-rated network comedy when it ended its 10-year run. It, too, was a favorite at Emmy time.

"What I love about the reaction to this series is that there is, at least, an actual reaction," he says. "I love there is something informed that they are reacting to. So often in television, people don't react to shows at all."

King says he is "surprised" by "the apparent unwillingness to see [the show] for what it is.

"I think the whole is that this is new and an acquired taste. The reaction is the reaction."

Facing negative reaction to a series isn't new for King. He says the first season of "Sex" was blasted, too.

"People said the girls were too needy. They didn't get it. It was all about sex. They said it wasn't substantial," King recalls.

"Over the six years, it grew into this series that people felt for," he says.

HBO has not renewed "The Comeback" for a second season, but King says it is going straight into work on another season after he finishes work on the last of this one's 13 episodes. "The Comeback" airs Sunday nights.




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