Call it a hunch, but I suspect that NBC’s My Own Worst Enemy [Mondays, 10/9C] will be greeted by a lot of critics with cries of “It’s silly,” and “What the heck was that?” – which is kind of a shame. The series, which stars Christian Slater as super-spy/sociopath Edward Albright and nice guy husband/father/efficiency expert, Henry Spivey, is a hybrid of the Bourne movies and the latest British mini-series take on Jekyll & Hyde, Jekyll.
When Spivey begins to remember being in places like Paris – where’s he’s never been, it leads to a bleeding of two distinct identities into each other. He soon learns that other employees of his consultants firm also have two identities and that he has been manufactured to give espionage superstar Edward Albright a completely effective cover for his downtime between assignments.
This causes problems for both personalities – Spivey suddenly awakens during one of Albright’s assignments and Albright wakes up in Spivey’s life. The results cause havoc for their boss/handler, Mavis Heller [Alfre Woodard], who might have to erase Spivey – but the two personalities figure out how to communicate with each other [in the same way that Tom Jackman and Hyde communicated in the Jekyll mini-series] and things begin to take even stranger turns.
I’m not saying that My Own Worst Enemy isn’t far-fetched. I’m not even saying that it doesn’t get silly in spots. What I am saying is that, like the BBC with Jekyll, NBC is taking a risk with a series that tries to do something fresh and different. I’m saying that My Own Worst Enemy is an entertaining hour of dark and light; a series that combines family drama and spy show with some genuine imagination. It blends Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Ludlum in a way that shoots for the fence – and might just pull it off, in time.
Slater does some decent work with both characters – and their lives. Besides Woodard, the excellent cast includes Madchen Amick [Mrs. Angelica Spivey], Saffron Burrows [Dr. Norah Skinner, the psychiatrist who monitors Spivey for problems associated with Edward], Mike O’Malley [Henry’s best friend, Tom/Edward’s fellow spy, Raymond], and Bella Thorne and Taylor Lautner [Henry’s children, Ruth and Jack].
The series creator, Jason Smilovic [Karen Sisco, Lucky Number Slevin, Kidnapped, Bionic Woman], may be onto something here. His pilot script, Breakdown, may be more than a little overstuffed, but director David Semel keeps it moving and hits some prime beats from the get-go. Simply put, there’s more here to like than not.
Final Grade: B-