Patrick Stewart surprised everyone when, after a long career with a largely dramatic (and science fiction) bent, he introduced audiences to Starz’s Blunt Talk. A live-action comedy produced by Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) and created by Jonathan Ames (Bored to Death), its raunchy first season followed Walter Blunt, a Los Angeles-based British-born newscaster with a penchant for alcoholism, drugs, and dubious sexual liaisons. While landing in moral quagmires, Blunt spent most of season one hosting his own nightly news program (à la fellow Brit Piers Morgan’s three-year stint on CNN) and populating it with what he considered to be important stories everyone should see.
Aside from a DUI, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings skipped for hookups at Sexaholics Anonymous, and the occasional bit of post-traumatic stress disorder, Stewart’s Blunt came off as genuine. With the season two premiere just around the corner, however, the 76-year-old performer and his collaborators must satisfy a blind second-season order that — despite the first’s big but faltering ratings — came before Starz had a chance to understand what Blunt Talk could, or would be. Judging by the five episodes made available for review, Ames has mostly accomplished this goal with a slightly better sophomore season. The writing has improved and, per the new season’s Chinatown-esque story arc, become tighter and more coherent.
Blunt Talk isn’t perfect, but the more Ames lets the cast banter with each other (or at Stewart), the better. Consider the opening scene of the premiere episode, in which Blunt’s valet Harry Chandler (Adrian Scarborough) puts the final touches on his appearance before accompanying him to the studio. Along the way, Blunt’s production team tag along for a pseudo West Wing walk-and-talk complete with discussions of personal grooming (with Karan Soni’s Martin Bassi), strep throat (with Timm Sharp’s Jim Stone and Dolly Wells’s Celia Havemeyer), marathon-length cunnilingus sessions (with Mary Holland’s Shelly Tinkle), and workplace sexual harassment (with Romany Malco’s Bob Gardner). Every one of these exchanges happens within the first minute, and it serves as the best possible reintroduction to Blunt Talk‘s wonderfully outrageous cast.