The extent of my advertising knowledge comes from a focus group I participated in around a month ago. They placed a plethora of ad campaign trials in front of us and asked us what we thought about them, if they worked and what we got from the “slogans” presented. I gave my input, participated in the discussion, and took my pay as soon as I left the office room. That was it. Minimal effort for minimal gain. In short, kind of a hollow experience. When I was given a screener copy of a new TNT series called TRUST ME, I pretty much expected the same sort of thing.
If you don’t know, TRUST ME is a new contemporary drama series airing on TNT in January. It’s about two ad men, Mason (Eric McCormack of Will and Grace) and Connor (Tom Cavanagh of Ed), and their partnership in an ad agency based out of Chicago. Throughout the series, the two work together to maintain their contracts with “unreasonable” clients while dealing with their ever-complicated personal lives.
The screener DVD I received had the pilot episode as well as an unfinished cut of the second episode “All Hell the Victors.” The first episode introduced me to all of the characters by telling me their names, and what they do for the company. The gimmick played out in a glib manner, labeling the CEO as “The Boss of Everyone” and the others as the boss of somebody else. One guy got the unfortunate monicker “The Suit.” In my mind, I was ready to check out. Here was a show that promised edgy and ended up using tired gimmicks to help me distinguish the characters that weren’t the leads. Not a good start.
But that changed with the introduction of the two main characters, Mason and Connor. They are the strength of the two episodes I saw, being the most realized out of everyone else and given the most life thanks to McCormack and Cavanagh. Some of their interactions bordered on over-the-top, but not obnoxiously so. And when it comes down to it, the two were just fun to watch onscreen.
But like I said, the rest of the cast bordered on forgettable. I have a feeling, however, that this complaint will fade away as the series progresses. There was a particular scene between Mason and a new copywriter (Monica Potter) in the second episode that was particularly telling of the idea behind TRUST ME. Simply put, it’s about the characters.
Perhaps the weakest aspect this show, and the thing I have the biggest complaint about is that the series is set in Chicago but not truly “set” in Chicago. We get the usual cut-aways to the Chicago skyline or some piece of dialogue telling us that we’re in Chicago, ala MY BOYS, but not much more. If you squint in the first episode you can kind of see a RED EYE dispenser and the elevated tracks along Lake. I had to re-watch the scene a couple of times to tell that it was actually shot in the city proper. The show was created by Hunt Baldwin and John Coveny, who have over 20 years of experience in the advertising world having worked for J. Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett Advertising in Chicago. Considering all this experience and time in the city, one would think that they could have infused more of it’s personality into the show as well. No joke, one of the characters looks out the window of his office and exclaims, “Aahh, Chicago!” like he’s lived there his whole life. Don’t buy it for a bit. Here’s hoping that this changes in future episodes.
So, I suppose you’re wondering if the show is worth watching or not. Apart from a few issues like location and weak side characters, TRUST ME is actually a rather compelling drama. It’s fast paced, energetic, and the leads are extremely likable. That’s enough to get me hooked for more episodes at least! If you can, be sure and check out the premiere on Monday, Jan. 26th at 10pm (ET/PT). You won’t be bored, trust me.