Synopsis: She may be Hollywood’s top shrink to the stars, but is she far more self-centered, judgmental and unstable than any of her famous patients? Alexandra Wentworth stars as Dr. Elizabeth Goode PhD, dispensing more $450/hr. celebrity misguidance amidst the twisted wreckage of her own life and career. David Landesberg and Michelle Arthur co-star in this Starz Original series, featuring guest stars Jerry Seinfeld, Janeane Garofalo, Hugh Hefner, Tori Spelling & Dean Dormott, James Denton, Larry Miller, Bridget Marquardt, Illeana Douglas, Pauline Porizkova, Kevin Nealon, Craig Bierko, Jason Lewis, Mario Batali, Sandra Bernhard, Tiffani Thiessen, Jonathan Silverman, Macy Gray, Greg Grunberg, Tate Donovan, Geri Halliwell, Melina Kanakaredes, Lance Burton, Isaac Mizrahi, Jerry Stiller & Anne Meara, Jeff Probst and more as themselves.
Head Case: Season 3 7.75
eyelights: the unbelievably self-absorbed Dr. Elizabeth Goode. the wedding planner. the makeshift prosthetics for Ron Julio. Dr. Goode’s new best friend. the new reception area painting.
eyesores: that sleazy Jeremy Berger.
Illeana Douglas: “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with me.”
Dr. Goode (laughing): “I’m sure that’s not true!”
In this third and final season of ‘Head Case’, the series actually ramps up, improving on the formula that they had been tweaking since day one. While the episodes in Season 1 were too brief to fully develop and had very little backstory, and Season 2 had less impressive guest appearances, this one merges the best of both worlds, going so far as even bringing in a new iteration of the much-missed reception desk painting.
More importantly, Season 3 is much funnier than the previous two. I found Dr. Goode’s behaviour and subsequent exchanges uproarious this time around. It’s not necessarily that the guests are that much better or that the storylines are superior (both are mixed bags), it’s just that there was just something punchier about the way Wentworth delivered Goode’s lines and in the responses she got in return. I laughed out loud far more this time around.
The storylines can be slightly erratic, though. For instance, the first three episodes sprint through Dr. Goode and Jeremy Berger’s wedding, from wedding planning all the way to the honeymoon. Frankly, it wasn’t too clear how much time was passing by, but the show gave the impression that it was mere days – not weeks, or even months, as one might expect under the circumstances. The jokes were nonetheless funny, but I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps the story could have been fleshed out some.
I also wasn’t that keen on the whole “Blendies” storyline, which defied credibility to some degree; although I loved that its origin was in Dr. Goode’s emotional breakdown, I had a difficult time with the notion that a small shop was being run from Ron Julio’s office (heck, I didn’t even know who those two guys running the shop were and where they’d come from). Anyway, the whole thing spun out of control and ended abruptly, as if nothing had happened.
Similarly, Dr. Finklestein’s storylines were very episodic, ending as precipitously as they had started, usually within one 22-minute show. I’m not sure if this was done to make him more interesting, but I would have preferred a more realistic touch – although, it must be said that he got some of the season’s best moments, what with his divorce from Lola, his peculiar relationship with his estranged daughter, and the announcement of his ex-wife’s will.
The key problems are that these developments had very little relevance in the grand scheme of things, leaving very little trace once the episode wrapped up. Furthermore, he’s not that fascinating a character; he’s kind of lame, pathetic, and not easily likeable. I feel like there’s untapped potential there, but I’m not sure which direction the show would have had to go to make the most of him. Anyway, his segments were better than the previous season’s, if inconsistent.
Everything revolves around and depends on Dr. Goode, of course. And boy does she deliver! If she was mildly narcissistic in the beginning, by this point in the series she has become fully self-absorbed, thinking only about her upcoming nuptials, and deluding herself with how important every single detail is to her, her entourage and even her patients. Her ability to self-reference at every turn is unbelievably inappropriate – and outrageously funny. It’s all about her. Always.
And yet, much space was given for other characters to blossom: Ron Julio was handed a series of delightfully peculiar prosthetics, Dr. Finklestein’s daughter got to fill in for Lola in the most unprofessional of ways, and Dr. Goode got herself a new best friend, a gay man who pretty much usurped Lola. Frankly, I totally adored her “gay” (as she enthusiastically calls him); he had such personality, such pizzazz. I would have liked to see much more of him.
Except that the show was unceremoniously cancelled after this season. My partner suggested that it might have something to do with the questionable way in which some of the subject matter was broached (ex: the adoption sequence), which could be viewed as inappropriate. That’s quite possible; perhaps it ruffled some feathers.
Whatever the case may be, I would have liked to see a fourth season of ‘Head Case’: it was improving with age, something few shows can boast. I would have relished seeing where it would go next, but I guess her time was up. Le sigh…
Post scriptum: I would likely have given this season a slightly higher rating if not for the fact that it ends in an open-ended way. I know that this is usually good practice to get people to come back for the next season’s opener, but it sucks when the end of a series doesn’t wrap-up properly. While I’m sure that it wasn’t planned that way by the show’s producers, the fact remains that this set is weakened by not having a proper conclusion.
Date of viewing: May 5-18 , 2013