The first two episodes of David Simon’s new miniseries, Show Me a Hero, premiered on HBO last night. It’s really good. Based on Lisa Belkin’s non-fiction book of the same name, Hero, set in the mid-1980s, is about Nick Wasicsko, a city councilman in Yonkers who becomes the youngest mayor in America. He immediately wishes he had waited longer to run, though because, once elected, he’s in the middle of a debate over public housing, and how the mostly-white residents of the Westchester city reject the federally mandated development. Typical of a Simon production, Hero is a story about race, but there’s nothing black and white about it. The good guys aren’t great, and the bad guys, like Alfred Molina’s Henry J. Spallone, look good chewing toothpicks.
The cast is outstanding, even Jim Belushi, who plays the former mayor. But it’s Isaac at the center of the story, and he gives the best, most effortlessly charming performance. This should be a surprise to literally no one. The future Force Awakens star did award-worthy work in Inside Llewyn Davis, A Most Violent Year, and Ex Machina, and it wouldn’t be a shocker to see him win an Emmy for Show Me a Hero. Still, as emotionally vulnerable as he is singing “Fare Thee Well,” that’s got nothing on his single best role: Detective Fartman in Lenny the Wonder Dog.
A few things you should know about Lenny the Wonder Dog:
1. It was written by Michael Winslow of Police Academy fame.
2. It premiered on Hungarian television in 2005.
3. The cast includes Winslow, Craig Ferguson, and Andy Richter as the voice of Lenny.
4. The Wikipedia summary is A Talking Cat!?!-level bonkers:
Doctor Island has invented a computer microchip he plans to use to train dogs instantly. However, his former colleague, Doctor Wagner, has other plans for the microchip: he wants to implant copies in every child in order to brainwash them to come work for him after they turn 18, and be exceedingly loyal. In the fight between Doctor Island and Doctor Wagner’s henchmen, Hanky and Panky, Doctor Island is injured and his dog Lenny is injected with the computer microchip. On the run, Lenny finds his brainpower growing. And when he finds a young boy, Zach, to be his friend and savior, Lenny discovers he can talk. Lenny (continually amazed by the new powers the embedded microchip keeps giving him), Zach (full of unrequited love for longtime friend Becky), and school newspaper reporter Becky (out to write the story of the century) teams up with downtrodden police officer John Wyndham to defeat Dr. Wagner and his henchmen. The showdown culminates at the school concert given by Pop Star Angie, where Zach’s inspiring speech and Lenny’s audio powers combine to incriminate Doctor Wagner, who is arrested by the police captain, now appreciative of Officer Wyndham’s talents for police-work and crime-solving.
Nonsense, beautiful nonsense.
5. Did I mention Oscar Isaac plays a character named Detective Fartman?
Isaac, who will win an Oscar someday, plays Detective Fartman, which is not pronounced “Fart-Man.” It’s “Fart-Men,” and at no point in Lenny the Wonder Dog does Fartman fart, man.
There’s little online video proof that Lenny the Wonder Dog is a real movie and not a fever dream episode of Dog with a Blog, except for this compilation of all of Ferguson’s scenes.
But it exists, I swear (although the moralists at the Dove Foundation wish it didn’t; they called Lenny “Not Recommended for Families,” writing, “Although this is an off-the-wall comedy that is geared toward the family, it cannot be family approved due to some language issues,” including “sweet God of Birds,” whatever that means). Just look at Oscar Isaac being all serious and stuff while standing next to a clown! Even then, he knew he was going to be in Star Wars.
The reviews are in (for a barely seen movie from a decade ago), and they’re glowing! Amazon reviewer Phillip O John Clarke writes, “I LOVE THIS MOVIE VERY FUNNY WITH LOTS OF SAVAGES. LOTS OF DOG IN THE SHOTS AND MORE DOG IN THE MOVIE, THIS IS NOT RUFF AT ALL. SRSLY,” while another adds, “Didn’t get past the first 10 minutes.”
Probably because they were laughing so hard at all this hilarity.
Show me a hero, I’ll show you Lenny the Wonder Dog.