Fresh Hell Season Two Review
Season one of Fresh Hell followed Spiner’s continued spiral to new levels of “fresh hell,” as the only person who shows any signs of friendship towards him is an aspiring porn star named Dakota (Kat Steel). The dimwitted Dakota encourages the former Data to participate in an acting showcase, using an unproduced episode of the NBC series Friends as material. She also introduces him to her boyfriend-slash-agent Tommy (Brian Palermo), an untrustworthy fellow who believes that seeing a client’s private parts firsthand is an essential part of a professional business relationship. Dakota later leads Spiner to a new manager as well, a New Age psychic named Valerie (Karen Austin) who insists that personal delusions play a vital role within a manager’s skill set. With nowhere else to turn, Brent Spiner accepts her offer, solidifying his desperate status in life and forming the nucleus of a classic television sitcom surrogate family in the process.
With season one effectively introducing the characters and concept of Fresh Hell, season two focusses on Spiner’s attempts to rise above the ashes of his life and reinvigorate his still-dead career. In true screwball comedy fashion, however, those attempts only lead to more mayhem and even fresher levels of hell. Inspired by Dakota’s desire to be a real actress, for instance, Spiner forms an acting class for other aspiring porn stars who would like to learn the craft. It turns out, however, that the small group of wannabe thespians is more interested in taking their clothes off than hearing recitals of Shakespeare. “My balls hang really low,” one of them states. “I’m afraid I might lose jobs because the actual penetration is obscured by my very heavy balls.” Jeff Lewis from the highly-successful webseries The Guild portrays the aforementioned “actor,” and his naked performance as Alec Baldwin from Glengarry Glen Ross is a true comedic gem as Lewis continually interrupts the more serious conversation between Spiner, Dakota and her boyfriend Tommy with his recital.
The Brent Spiner of Fresh Hell also attempts to make lemonade out of the large basket of lemons at his disposal when his is hired to play Spock from Star Trek: The Original Series at a young boy’s birthday party. When he discovers that the father of the child is a movie producer, Spiner finds a way to insert the St. Crispin’s Day Speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V into his performance in order to impress the Hollywood bigwig. Although Fresh Hell is predominantly about Brent Spiner the actor in general rather than strictly Star Trek, season two does contain an earlier episode in which the former Data attempts to borrow money from his Next Generation colleague LeVar Burton. “So what is your plan?” Burton asks. “Every few weeks, you hunt up your old pal LeVar the Softie and hit him up for a couple of Benjamins?”
While Brent Spiner is now toxic on Fresh Hell, the fictitious Spiner himself is not as despicable as the public has apparently come to believe as he continually displays concern and compassion towards Dakota and Valerie. In this sense, Spiner is similar to Jeff Bridges’ character from the big screen motion picture The Fisher King. During the film, Jack Lucas experiences his own fall from grace after comments made on his popular radio talk show induce a caller to commit mass murder. He finds solace in both alcohol and a low-end video store owner named Anne, only to achieve personal redemption and a resurgence in his career after assisting Robin Williams, whose wife was one of the victims in the shooting spree, from his trauma-induced delusions. Afterwards Lucas is faced with a different dilemma—with the old life of success that he has craved suddenly within reach, does he abandon those who stood by him during his dark years in exile in order to reclaim it?
Brent Spiner finds himself in a comparable situation at the end of the second season of Fresh Hell. The opportunity to defend his actions and potentially revive his own career is counterbalanced with various personal crises surrounding all three of his newly found nuclear family—Dakota, Tommy and Valerie. Does he desert his friends at their hour of need for public redemption, or are the personal relationships that he has recently crafted more important within the scope of life? “When people begin to reevaluate Hitler by saying, ‘At least he’s not Brent Spiner,’ you’re just some cat I used to work with,” LeVar Burton tells Spiner earlier, but Fresh Hell makes it clear that the epitaph does not really fit either the fictitious or real life Brent Spiner. Although Fresh Hell is a fresh comedy in a sea of entertainment choices, it ultimately stands as a testament to the claim that fame and fortune are merely fleeting, and the bonds of friendships that one forms during life’s journey are all that truly matters.
Anthony Letizia (August 13, 2012)