In a time where frustration over the lengths that tabloids go to capture actors on camera is at its height, Courtney Cox and creator Matthew Carnahan venture into the world of the gossip rags for "Dirt", which stars Cox as Lucy Spiller, the editor of both Now magazine and Dirt magazine (which merge), two gossip mags that essentially fill in for the show's version of Star and the National Enquirer.
The first scene of the pilot has Spiller on the prowl at a party, noticing a few story-worthy tales playing out around her, and putting them together in her head to form the latest cover. She's assisted by Don (Ian Hart), a photographer with mental problems who she tries to take care of - he helps her out and she helps him.
Early in the show, Don gets scandalous pics of a married basketball player with another woman by the hot tub. There's also the matter of Holt (Josh Stewart), an actor everyone likes, but who can't catch a break in his choice of roles. He starts giving Lucy gossip, and while his career starts to get on the rise, the career - and life - of his popular girlfriend, sitcom actress Julia Mallory (Laura Allen), falls apart. The series follows Lucy and Don as they try to dig up dirt and both how it can come back to get them, as well as how they can use the gossip as currency for their own profit.
The series does have some things working for it, but there are also some fairly sizable concerns. To get the bad out of the way first, the show's wall-to-wall grungy music score is irritating, as it often seems like a heavy-handed way to create a moody atmosphere. The series also seems to think that it's edgier than it really is, and could use a few grounded minutes here-and-there amidst all the glitz and glamour, as well as a bit more detail about the business side of tabloids.
Still, there are elements that work, and the biggest of which is Cox. The actress is terrific as an editor who will get the story by any means necessary. Commanding and cat-like, she turns Lucy into a dynamic, compelling character who has a tough exterior, but occasionally shows a softer side. She's excellent with Hart, who turns the troubled Don (who introduces every episode) into a rather sympathetic character.
Overall, "Dirt" needs to focus on the strength of the acting, develop the storylines further and stop worrying about being the most edgy new show on the block. The series has potential, and the sophmore season will see whether it can develop it.
1. 1- 1 2 Jan 07 Pilot
2. 1- 2 9 Jan 07 Blogan
3. 1- 3 16 Jan 07 Ovophagy
4. 1- 4 23 Jan 07 What to Expect When You're Expecting
5. 1- 5 30 Jan 07 You Don't Know Jack
6. 1- 6 6 Feb 07 The Secret Lives of Altar Girls
7. 1- 7 13 Feb 07 Come Together
8. 1- 8 20 Feb 07 The Thing Under the Bed
9. 1- 9 27 Feb 07 This Is Not Your Father's Hostage Situation
10. 1-10 6 Mar 07 The Sexxx Issue
11. 1-11 13 Mar 07 Pap Smeared
12. 1-12 20 Mar 07 Caught On Tape
13. 1-13 27 Mar 07 Ita Missa Est
VIDEO: "Dirt" is presented by Buena Vista in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Presentation quality is generally very good, with fine sharpness and detail throughout most of the episodes. A few minor traces of softness are seen here-and-there in darker scenes, but the majority of the show looked crisp and well-defined. A few traces of artifacting were spotted, but no edge enhancement or other concerns were seen. Colors looked bold and rich, although seemed a touch smeary at times.
SOUND: The show's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is largely forward-oriented, although there are some occasional uses of the surrounds to provide reinforcement for the score and some mild ambience. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and a bassy score.
EXTRAS: Three short featurettes: "Celebrity Couple Gets Dirty", "Through A Lens, Darkly" and "Tabloid Wars". We also get a brief gag reel, a preview for season 2 and 11 deleted scenes with an intro.
Final Thoughts: Overall, "Dirt" needs to balance the glitz and glam surface with further development of the characters and storylines. The series has potential and some good performances going for it, and the sophmore season will see whether it can develop its positives further.