Spoilers for the HBO show Wedger – the whole season – follow.

HOLLYWOOD -Following the intense internet debate, including the launching of several online petitions, everyone knew that the season finale of HBO show Wedger had raised the stakes to an almost impossible extent.

With the death of Stephen ‘Paint Bottle’ Wedger (Matthew Modine) the show had lost one of its most charismatic and amusing presences. Could Robert Downey Jr’s tortured Wedge expert carry the show? Would the diabolical Wedgier be revealed? And who else (let’s hope not Mrs. Wedger played by Mia Sara)  would have to pay for the darkness in the depths of the American male psyche?

Well, this reviewer has to say the whole thing was a colossal waste of time. The cracks began to appear when Captain Balaton (Jeff Daniels) is asked by a Supreme Court Judge ‘What is a wedge expert anyhow?’ This throwaway bit of meta-commentary suddenly felt prescient as we see Wedger at work analyzing the wedgie that killed his brother. It’s obvious that Downey Jr. is out of his depth, giving an utterly unconvincing performance of how a real wedge expert would operate. Then we learn he only got the job on the strength of the fact his name sounded uncannily appropriate. The reveal that the Wedgier was in fact Wedger, trying to keep himself in work was almost too obvious to be a reveal. 

To then have the whole validity of the whole show compromised by the final ten minutes when a young boy wakes up late for school and tells his mother over a rushed breakfast ‘what a strange dream I had’ was like taking the audience and giving it collectively the biggest wedgies in the history of wedgies. I for one was howling in agony. In three words the whole thing has been ‘an. unwiped. orifice.’

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Warning: SPOILERS for the HBO show Wedger from pilot through Episode 6.

We’ve got used to the anti-heroes of television’s second Golden Age, be it Tony Soprano, Al Swearengen, Walter White or Don Draper. But now we have to add another name: Wedger. This week’s episode probably pushed the limits of what we are willing to accept from a lead character and still root for him.

After getting drunk all day with his irrepressible brother Stephen ‘Paint Bottle’ Wedger (Matthew Modine), Wedger (Robert Downey Jr.) realizes that it is his daughter’s recital and so steals a car and drives across town and break neck speed, crashing into a school bus and killing all the children in the ensuing fireball.

Meanwhile across town, Kirstie Alley escapes from jail, aided by the mysterious Wedgier in one of the finest escape via ingestion by a very fat prison guard that I have ever seen. Up there with Shawkshank Redemption poo pipe crawl.  

Fleeing the scene of his crime, Wedger gets a call from Captain Balaton (Jeff Daniels) begging for him to help catch the Wedgier, but Wedger isn’t going to disappoint his daughter. So pausing only to mainline heroin in an alley and strangle a homeless person to death because ‘he looked at me funny’, Wedger punches a cyclist (a great comedy beat), steals her bicycle and heads for his daughter’s school where he is met by the teacher with whom he had a steamy episode in the pilot. She has some news: she’s pregnant! Without blinking or a moment’s hesitation, Wedger punches her as hard as he can in the belly and runs into the hall just as his daughter begins to play Debussey’s Clare de lune. As he sits down next to his wife (Mia Sara) she says ‘You almost missed it.’ Okay this I have to say. What a BITCH! I mean Wedger might be a tiny bit morally ambiguous, but what a mean spirited, whiny, irritating, dumb pain in the ass his wife is. When you think about what he has to put up with from her, all his actions suddenly make sense. Hopefully, the writers will find some way of punishing her in a really humiliating manner. 

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Warning: SPOILERS for the HBO series Wedger from pilot through to Episode 3.

Last week’s episode certainly put the cat among the pigeons as Wedger (Robert Downey Jr.) discovers his wife (Mia Sara) is having an affair with his brother, Stephen ‘Paint Bottle’ Wedger (Matthew Modine), just as Wedger is called in by the police to consult on a series of murders committed by the Wedgier, a mysterious serial killer who is dispatching his victims with elaborate razor edged wedgies.
Now a wider political context is brought in as a letter is sent to the First Lady written by the Wedgier and Wedger is called to the White House to investigate. His brother Stephen ‘Paint Bottle’ Wedger accompanies him, hoping to explain his relationship and apologise. However, during Wedger’s meeting with the President, Paint Bottle is left with the First Lady who turns out to be an old girlfriend. One thing leads to another and Wedger is called out of the meeting by the Secret Service to be told that Paint Bottle is being inappropriate in the Roosevelt Room. Martin Sheen and Shelley Duvall are wonderful as the first couple, but the episode seems something of an oddity. Is it trying to cash in on the House of Cards Washington mystique? The big loss is Robert Downey Jr. who despite his usual wit – especially in the scene where he tries to score speed off the White House Chief of Staff – has too little to do. That said Matthew Modine is beginning to shine as Paint Bottle, one of the darkest and most frank portrayals of sex addiction shown on television.

Wedger is broadcast 9 pm EST on HBO. For more Wedger news CLICK HERE.


Warning: SPOILERS for the HBO series Wedger from pilot through to Episode 4.

Following the Washington antics of the previous episode and the breakneck pace of the show’s opening, it was only right that Wedger the new HBO drama starring Robert Downey Jr., Matthew Modine and Mia Sara should take a moment to compose itself.
Episode 4: The Wedge Shaped Room sees Wedger and estranged wife Toni going to couples therapy accompanied by Toni’s lover and Wedger’s brother, Stephen ‘Paint Bottle’ Wedger. A bottle episode – similar to the famous ‘The Fly’ episode in Breaking Bad – sees the characters confined to a waiting room for the entire episode as they wait for the therapist to see them. The delays begin as a hallucinating Wedger – he’s dropped liquid acid onto his retina in the cold opening – gets the wrong time and then the therapist herself seems to be running late as the increasingly comic receptionist (Kirstie Alley) explains and apologizes while apparently flirting with Paint Bottle.  
It soon becomes apparent that the therapy is already taking place, as Wedger and frère snipe at each other Toni tries to keep the peace and matters are not helped by Captain Balaton’s constant phone calls pleading with Wedger to return to the station as there has been a new Wedgying Murder and the ‘press is all over my ass’. Among other tit-bits in this David Mamet scripted episode comes the revelation of how Paint Bottle got his name, putting paid to weeks of internet speculation. Although there’s always the chance that his lying. Mia Sara’s performance was heart breaking and funny at the same time. Lulled into perhaps a sense of false safety by the grinding boredom of the episode – made duller still by Mamet’s trademark repeat the same line three times dialogue – the final twist revealing the identity of the therapist completely blew my mind and has risen the stakes significantly.

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Warning: SPOILERS for the HBO show Wedger, from pilot through to episode 2, follow:

Episode 2: ‘All Tomorrows Wedgies’ 

After the slow burn of the pilot, the latest episode took off at a fair clip with a brilliant set piece in which the Wedgier strikes at a high fashion catwalk show in downtown New York, killing a model in one of the most gruesome and elaborate murders ever committed to the screen.

Guest director Brian De Palma brought some of his cinematic verve to proceedings in a sequence – complete with split screen action – reminiscent of his early masterpiece Blow Out. The use of razor edged lingerie and a fishing pole will perhaps make you never look the same way again at a fly fisherman.

While mayhem is taking place downtown at the fashion show, Wedger’s day has begun as he drives his two blind children to school, but, being Wedger, he’s almost paralytically drunk. Captain Balaton (Jeff Daniels in perhaps a career best role) delivers a priceless  line – ‘You got here quick’ – when he discovers Wedger in a holding tank for running over the traffic monitor, having only just called him in to help with the serial killer. However, now with a DUI hanging over his head, Wedger has no choice but to help the hapless police force that seems helpless in the hopeless face of their own haplessness. 

Meanwhile, at home Mrs. Wedger (Mia Sara) is nursing Simon ‘Paint Bottle’ Wedger (a so-so Matthew Modine) back to health, after finding him beaten by his bookie on the doorstep. Having bathed him by candle light and rubbed his body with unguents, sister-in-law and brother-in-law have sex both tasteful and missionary before getting down to a more satisfactory doggy style, all the while giving vital background information. It is a tender moment which only later becomes sinister when we realize that they are unaware that Wedger is Skyping from the police station, the laptop is open and the webcam is on. That final shot of the webcam is chilling in the extreme and leaves us wondering is Wedger the only one with access to the wireless password, or perhaps the Wedgier is closer than we think…?

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NEW YORK – New HBO show Wedger starring Robert Downey Jr. premiered last night to some of the highest ratings in the prestigious station’s history. SPOILERS for the pilot of Wedger follow.

Pilots of important shows have almost become the stuff of legend. The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Mad Men and Deadwood all began with robust openings that set the ambitious standard for what was to come and what would have to come ever after in TV drama. Wedger, starring Robert Downey Jr as the eponymous troubled investigator, if anything, set the bar even higher. The first scene introduces us to an almost unrecognizable Downey Jr. Bearded and the worse for wear, Wedger is a sleazy and morally bankrupt presence, caught during his estranged daughter’s PTA meeting injecting heroin into his eyeball. The tired wit of his put down to the head teacher – ‘We all need an ax to break the ice’ – perfectly surmises both the character’s louche decadence as well as the offhand amorality of the show. The teacher in recognition of the dark loneliness at the heart of the American male gleefully submits to anal sex. Credits. Now how’s that for a cold opening?
The rest of the episode charts the slow development of a case in which a series of crimes are committed involving wedges, or significantly in one particularly gruesome decapitation the absence of wedges. Jeff Daniels is superb as the police captain Balaton who is Wedger’s last remaining friend in the police department, seeking him out for unofficial consultations. Matthew Modine is garrulous and hilarious, easily matching Downey Jr’s bravura, as Simon ‘Paint Bottle’ Wedger, Wedger’s asshole gambling addict brother, and his catchphrase ‘f*ck you, ass face’ looks likely to enter the cultural lexicon soon enough as the counterpart of ‘I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse’.

My one criticism would be that Mia Sara, as Wedger’s ex-wife Toni, could have been whinier, but I suppose AMC have spoiled me. Paul Verhoeven – directing the pilot – brought a high powered Hollywood sensibility and the scenes in the Tits n’ Asses Exposition Strip Club included some sly in jokes to the Showgirls debacle that almost sunk his career. Speculation on the internet is already rife about the identity of the mysterious Wedgey – the murderer – but for the moment Verhoeven and David Mamet (who scripted the episode) are keeping their cards close to their chests.

Wedger broadcasts Sundays on HBO at 9 pm EST.