TV Week's Critical Eye blog once again descends into the junketastic hell that is the Television Critics Association press tour, where boob-tube stars and programming executives submit themselves to panel discussion firing-squads in between parties where they're forced to mingle with their critical executioners. The Eye called yesterday's Dirt panel one of the "most anticipated" of the week, as bloodthirsty critics would finally have a chance to confront the people responsible for a show they've taking great glee in savaging, and recounts FX President John Landegraf's (shocking!) admission that he'll take ratings over praise, as well as his hopes that audiences will hang around long enough to see the series get better:
Having a new series draw critical praise and high ratings is ideal, he said, but if he had to choose, at the end of the day the man wants a hit.
The "Dirt" premiere was the second highest-rated debut in FX's history, mainly due to Cox's star wattage, but its tough to believe the viewership will hold. Landgraf said he expects the second episode to drop in the ratings as well, and possibly the third episode as well.
One point of criticism Landgraf conceded is that "Dirt" lacks a sense of humor about itself. That was one of his notes too, he said, and starting at about the fifth episode, the show significantly improves.
"I really love the show from about midway through the season on," he said. "Whether the audience sticks around that long, we'll see."
Addressing the note about the troubling self-seriousness of a show about celebrity gossip, the president promised that critics who make it to Episode Five would be pleased by a recalibration of Dirt's attitude, when Courtney Cox's take-no-famous-prisoner's tabloid editor hilariously "catches" schizophrenia from her mentally ill photographer, kicking off a running gag where she hallucinates that her vibrator comes to life each time she fires it up, becoming a wisecracking sidekick with whom she can dish about Jennifer Aniston's love life.