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The Comeback
The Comeback
TV Series
  • Category:
  • Cast:
    Lisa Kudrow,Lance Barber,Robert Michael Morris
  • Time:
    30min
Valerie Cherish is a D list actress who was an A lister back in the early 90s. Now, she has become unemployed, married, and has a much harder time getting recognized in the Hollywood scene. Valerie is now embarking on making a comeback with a camera crew documenting her trials and triumphs of her journey on doing so.
Casts
Series cast summary:
Lisa Kudrow Lisa Kudrow - Valerie Cherish 21 episodes, 2005-2014
Lance Barber Lance Barber - Paulie G. 21 episodes, 2005-2014
Robert Michael Morris Robert Michael Morris - Mickey Deane 21 episodes, 2005-2014
Laura Silverman Laura Silverman - Jane Benson 21 episodes, 2005-2014
Damian Young Damian Young - Mark Berman 21 episodes, 2005-2014
Malin Akerman Malin Akerman - Juna Millken 15 episodes, 2005-2014
Robert Bagnell Robert Bagnell - Tom Peterman 14 episodes, 2005-2014
Kellan Lutz Kellan Lutz - Chris MacNess 15 episodes, 2005-2014
Jason Olive Jason Olive - Jesse Wood 13 episodes, 2005
Kimberly Jeppson Kimberly Jeppson - Shayne Thomas 13 episodes, 2005
Vanessa Marano Vanessa Marano - Franchesca 12 episodes, 2005
Lillian Hurst Lillian Hurst - Esperanza 11 episodes, 2005-2014
Dan Bucatinsky Dan Bucatinsky - Billy Stanton 9 episodes, 2005-2014
Bayne Gibby Bayne Gibby - Gigi 9 episodes, 2005-2014

The Comeback

In April 2014, it was officially announced by HBO, that The Comeback will return for a eight-episode season, after nine years since its first season.

The idea of the show came during a friendly lunch between Series Creators Lisa Kudrow and Michael Patrick King. Both of them were not looking to work on a new show, but then Lisa came up with an idea, of which she had been thinking, about an actress that is phony, and so desperate to get back to the spotlight, that she agrees to be in a reality show called "The Comeback". Michael thought the idea was brilliant, and the lunch became a four hour meeting. According to Lisa, after that, the entire show was practically done.

Michael Patrick King stated that after making a second season of the show after nine years since the first, one of the freakiest thing was that they could get back the real house used as the filming location for Valerie's (Lisa Kudrow's) house.

The show was praised by being ahead of its time, and among the possibilities for its cancellation is Michael Patrick King's belief that people where not ready for it, because there was nothing like it on television. That was proven right, when television channels started doing reality shows using the same format, often inviting faded stars to comeback to the spotlight, or showing people's lives on intimidating and disrespectful levels. One of the shows came to be the hit The Real Housewives of Atlanta (2008) franchise, which its humiliating level is quite similar to what Valerie goes through in "The Comeback".

Although rumor has it, that the show was cancelled because of low ratings, on several interviews (EmmyTVledgends.org, The Writers Guild Foundation and Kevin Pollack's Chat Show), Michael Patrick King and Lisa Kudrow have stated that they never knew the real reasons.

Lisa Kudrow said in 2010, that if the show were picked up for a season two, the character Paulie G. (Lance Barber) would've ended up getting fired, Gigi (Bayne Gibby) would've been in charge of the sitcom, it would've become a huge mess, and Valerie's marriage would've been on the rocks.

The Osbournes (2002), The Anna Nicole Show (2002), and the second season of Pöörane seiklus (2001), were the basic inspirations for the humiliating level they were heading to achieve for the character. Also, they stated that only after watching raw footage of The Osbournes (2002), that they discovered how boring the raw material is, that's why they came up with the idea of the episodes to be "raw footages".

Michael Patrick King stated that the only thing they changed from the pilot is that Valerie's (Lisa Kudrow's) and Mark's (Damian Young's) sexual life is intense. They did change it, because they thought that among everything bad happening around her, a dead end sexual life would be too brutal for the character. They wanted the audience to know that "the character had love, but was choosing to walk in front of a train instead".

Each episode begins with color bars, over which are superimposed the words "The Comeback: Raw Footage", indicating that viewers to the actual HBO series The Comeback (2005) are watching unedited video footage for the fictional reality show "The Comeback".

The roles of Mickey and Jane were written specifically for Robert Michael Morris and Laura Silverman.

Michael Patrick King stated to The Writers Guild Foundation in 2012, that none of the action or dialogue in the show was improvised. He said that the improvisation happened only during the writing process. During their meetings, Lisa improvised dialogue and action as Valerie, while Michael tried to transcript as much as he could. For Michael, those were the toughest moments, and he really thought about hiring a stenographer to do that, because everything Lisa did and said, during improvisation, was so rich, that he was always afraid to lose any of it.

Lisa Kudrow's middle name is Valerie, and during an episode of Friends (1994), in which her character is going through a name change, she changes it to Princess Consuela Bananahammock, but she was "gonna let her friends call her Valerie".

Director James Burrows, who makes uncredited guest appearances during the show as the "Room & Bored" Director Jimmy Burrows, also did a guest appearance as a director in the sixth episode of Sõbrad (1994), when Joey is acting as Al Pacino's body double.

In the years between the show's first and second seasons, Robert Michael Morris had been diagnosed with stage IV melanoma, and was still battling the cancer during production of the show's second season. Despite being deemed uninsurable, Michael Patrick King and Lisa Kudrow convinced HBO that Morris would be able to complete the project, which he did.

For nine years (time passed between the first and second season of the show) Lisa Kudrow and Michael Patrick King often talked about Valerie, both wondering where she'd be.

On 2017's ATX Festival, during a one hour special interview about The Comeback, Lisa Kudrow and Michael Patrick King stated that a 3rd season is a possibility.

Michele Weinberger (Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997)), Phoebe Buffay (Sõbrad (1994)), Valerie Cherish (The Comeback (2005)) and Fiona Wallice (Web Therapy (2008)) are Lisa Kudrow's most famous characters to date, and all of them have a lot in common. They all share a tragic past that has isolated them from the others, making them create and live in their own particular world, as a self defense sense, to avoid and surpass the suffering, causing the fake impression that they have a shallow or ignorant personality, when in fact, they are just in conflict with the ordinary social understanding of living. Although each one of them goes through very humiliating moments, they do not have a mean or disrespectful nature with the others (not even Fiona, whose personality is inclined to take advantage of the situations). They also share self-unawareness, but ironically they have overwhelming self esteem and confidence. All of the performances had been used in the past somehow, and she later brought each one back, to become the characters that people now know. Lisa has already stated on Kevin Pollack's Chat Show, that she likes to make humor with the "slice of life" kind of thing. Michael Patrick King defined, during their Writers Guild Foundation interview, that she first deconstructed a character from the inside out, to later build it all over again. Lisa also stated, that she doesn't like her characters to be mean, or to deliver degrading situations, because it's not her style, and the audience does not deserve that kind of disrespect.

Lisa also remembered that there was another moment when she argued with Michael. She thought that it wasn't important for Valerie to touch the back of Mark's hair in the end of the Palm Springs episode. Michael insisted she do it, because it was a very important moment for the character. During the Writers Guild Foundation interview, she agreed that she couldn't be more wrong, because it turned to be everyone's favorite moment.

Michael Patrick King and Lisa Kudrow stated to The Writers Guild Foundation, that although HBO initially didn't get some of the ideas during the writing process, the channel gave them their full support and creative freedom for its production.

Ranked #6 on the 2013's "10 Great Cringe Comedies" by Time magazine.

As her character, Gigi, is supposed to have gained weight between the first and second seasons, for her reappearance in an episode of season two, Bayne Gibby was required to wear a fat suit.

Robert Michael Morris' network test for the role of Mickey Deane was his first ever audition. After the test, Morris presented his future co-star Lisa Kudrow with a necklace, which she immediately put on. She later recalled: "It was really beautiful and sweet ... it felt like a good luck charm."

While they were writing the pilot episode, Michael said that Lisa came up grumping that "there's a water thing... there's a water in the wall and she doesn't want to deal with it". She didn't know exactly what was that supposed to be, she just had that idea. That "water thing moment" became to be the water leaking that messed Valerie's "IT WALL".

Robert Michael Morris, who played Mickey - Valerie's unconditional friend and hair stylist, died on May 30th, 2017. According to Michael Patrick King during The Comeback panel discussion at 2017's ATX Festival, Morris called him a day before to let him know that he wouldn't be able to make it to the Festival and he didn't want anybody disappointed.

According to Lisa Kudrow, she performed the character "Favorite Actress On A Talk Show" in the past during her acting classes at The Groundlings. That character was brought back to become Valerie Cherish.

Michael Patrick King said that Lisa Kudrow never argued with him, except once, when Valerie (Kudrow) and Paulie G. (Lance Barber) have the double vomit. Every time Lisa spat the shake to fake the vomit, she automatically turned her face off-camera, because she didn't want to make the audience feel disgusted. On the last shot, Michael was yelling at her to do it right, and she finally did it while angry.

Entertainment Weekly placed this show on several lists: #79 in the 2007's "New TV Classics"; #10 in the 2009's "10 Best TV Shows Of The Decade"; #8 in the "25 Best Cult TV Shows From The Past 25 Years"; #9 in the 2014's "26 Best Cult TV Shows Ever"; #12 in the 2014's "HBO: 20 Best Original". The magazine also campaigned for its return, and also stated that it was "tragically cancelled".

Lisa Kudrow stated to emmytvlegends.org, that she was afraid she wouldn't get the role of Phoebe Buffay, because James Burrows was very serious and laconic about her performance during one of her last auditions, making her think he didn't like her. During this show, Burrows makes a few guest appearances, and expresses his dislike of Valerie Cherish, by being very serious and laconic towards her. Burrows and Kudrow have a nice relationship in real-life.

Michael Patrick King revealed that one of the references for the second season will be The Real Housewives of Atlanta (2008), which is, ironically, quite similar to the first season of this show.

Vanessa Marano was approached about reprising her role as Francesca in season two, and wanted to do so, but scheduling conflicts between this show and Switched at Birth (2011) prevented this.

At one point during season one, Jimmy (James Burrows) tells Valerie that the real reason "I'm It" was cancelled, was because they hired a monkey to star in its last season. Despite its success, Sõbrad (1994) also had a monkey character named Marcel.

Michael Patrick King took three weeks to write the pilot.

Michele Weinberger (Lisa Kudrow) of Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997) also wore a back brace in high school for scoliosis.

During season 2 people discussed if Mickey's health condition was a fiction plot or not. The truth is that Michael Patrick King and Lisa Kudrow already knew at that time that Robert Michael Morris, who plays the mentioned character, had a stage 4 melanoma. They've opted to respectfully use the fact in the series to increase the reality approach and the metainformation so widely used in the show. Acording to Michael Patrick King during 2017's ATX Festival, that's why the critically acclaimed 2nd season's finale means a lot to them.

Yahm
Yahm
I have just had the pleasure of seeing the entire season of The Comeback. I cannot believe the poor reception this series has had with the viewing public of America. The writing and performances from all concerned are outstanding. The situations are extreme, but then how many of us have the insight into the makings of a TV sitcom. Even so, it always seems believable. Kudos to Kudrow for creating one of the most likable, infuriating, delicious, yet tragic characters to grace TV for a long while. And special mention to Lance Barber for instilling Paulie G with so much venom and hatred to create one of the most loathsome. So many good moments crammed into each episode this series demands repeat viewing. I caught an ep. of Friends shortly afterwards, and could not watch Phoebe (or indeed any of the contrived, poorly scripted nonsense I had so previously enjoyed) without seeing Big Red behind the drippy one-liners. I will most definitely watch it again and again when it comes to the UK.

(To Tom Selleck on the phone: "Well, maybe I'll call you again if they decide to revive my big beaver...")
Vut
Vut
This show is brilliant and Lisa Kudrow is amazing in it. If you've ever lived in LA, you already know this is closer to reality than any of the shows it satirizes.

Comparisons to the BBC version of "The Office" are inevitable. This show is probably as good as that critical darling, and it might be even better.

I've heard that it hasn't been renewed, which is a shame, as it's certainly much smarter than Darren Starr's other HBO hit, the long-running "Sex and the City.

Kudos to HBO and all involved for taking a chance on this risky and smart and painfully funny show.
Arthunter
Arthunter
Lisa Kudrow truly shines in her new HBO vehicle, "The Comeback." Playing Valerie Cherish, a former B-list sitcom star, Kudrow injects her outstanding comedic timing and delivery into every joke, whether it be an embarrassing situation or a humiliating video confessional. The former Friends star has surrounded herself with very little big names, leaving Kudrow herself to carry the show. While the world of failed actors and actresses in Los Angeles will probably not take too kindly to this, one who truly understands the inner- workings of pilot season and the Hollywood community will find the jokes hit their target dead-on. HBO has found their next hit in this dramedy, and pairing it with Entourage makes perfect sense. Be sure to check this out.
Nalmetus
Nalmetus
I have not been too happy with some of the shows portraying people in the business. They have usually been SO over the top that it sucks the jokes right out of it. Having seen THE COMEBACK tonight I'm very happy to say that this one is right on the money! It's funny and has a fresh take on what it means to be in this business and Lisa Kudrow is quiet Genius in her delivery (the way comedy should be!) A mockumentary should be just that...making fun without hitting us over the head with the punchlines. I think HBO has delivered yet another first rate show that of course I'm already hooked on. Thanks! and I can't wait for the next episode.
romrom
romrom
I ran into this one on my HBO on demand last Sunday. For the first time I can remember, I was riveted to my TV. I watched all six or so (the total taped) episodes in one sitting.

The show is an interesting mix of TV-land looking at, and poking fun at itself. Keep in mind that this is a show within a show. We are supposed be be watching the outtakes from a reality show where the reality is a washed up, over aged (by TV standard) actress gets the nod to first star in, and then have a bit role in a new TV show. The show within the show is an updated version of Three's Company.

We get to watch the Kudrow character's attempt at being the center of attraction until she wises up that she's not the center of this universe as she was on her show of 20 years ago. The catch is watching this actress play an actress who evolves and adapts quickly to her new situation. She absorbs a lot of ridicule along the way - more than most folks could take. Rather than lash out and risk her gig, she smiles, pretends to go along with the gags where she is the butt of the joke and then makes minor adjustments based on her new perception of her role in this new world where she is no longer the star, but the comedic relief.

Like a Woody Allen movie, Kudrow's place both as the star and producer of the show give her too much time to make a lot of noise and too much screen time emoting monologues. However, even at her worst, she's not the ego maniac that Allen is so at worst, it's a bit too much, but still tolerable.

Whatever the outcome of this show, I think Kudrow has proved that she has range and talent well beyond what most folks thought she had.
Bliss
Bliss
Network: HBO; Genre: Comedy, Satire, Parody; Content Rating: TV-MA (profanity, adult content, nudity, sexual humor); Available: DVD; Perspective: Cult Classic (star range: 1 - 5)

Seasons Reviewed: Complete Series (1 season)

In early 90s Valerie Cherish (Lisa Kudrow) was the It girl on a hit sitcom called "I'm It". Now, in the new millennium with the death of the sitcom looming on the horizon and reality shows (band-aids on a problem that are themselves starting to peel off) providing has-been celebrities a temporary life-line back onto TV, Valerie gets a chance to make a comeback in the form of a reality series. "The Comeback", the show within the one we are watching, documents her new career taking a bit role on a network sitcom called "Room & Bored". As the documentary cameras intrude on Valerie's life and her not-so-photogenic real life intrudes on the reality show and "Room & Bored" (plagued with problems from the beginning) itself continues to fall apart, Valerie all the while maintains a phony smile and naively optimistic attitude about the whole thing.

"The Comeback" is a triumph for both co-creators. An acting triumph for Kudrow who explodes in a volcano of talent that laid dormant for 10 years on "Friends". A creative triumph for Michael Patrick King who answers the call to follow up one of TV's all time best shows in "Sex and the City" by making not one new show, but three in one. Now, that mean streak the bubbled under the surface of "Sex", but was forced down by the show's romanticism gets to break out and attack.

Kudrow is absolutely brilliant here, effortlessly carrying the series with naturally comic instincts. As a personality that was associated with everything that is young and hip for so long, it is incredibly bold the way Kudrow fully embraces a role as an unlikable out-of-touch, over-the-Hollywood-hill actress. She disappears into Valerie, who is something like Shelly Long and Katharine Hepburn doing David Brent. "Comeback" is a one-woman showcase, built around Valerie suffering one indignity after another (many involving "Bored's" co-creator, Paulie G, who absolutely hates her) while she smiles for the cameras, pushes her emotions down and explains away every disaster unfolding in front of her face. It is often heartbreaking and painful to watch. When Valerie could just as easily have been a punchline, Kudrow gives her a nuanced depth with layer upon layer of repressed, passive-aggressive behavior. She gets buy out of a sheer single-minded fortitude for attention and "to be heard". So much of this performance is in what she doesn't say, a pain behind her eyes. She was Emmy robbed.

I've always admired King's desire and ability to make TV more than the audience's low expectations allow. He respects his audience and trusts our intelligence to get it. Not many people will be comfortable with a comedy like "Comeback" symbolically structured like a Greek tragedy or take the time to analyze King's endless world of visual metaphors. "Comeback" is a deeply thought out show about shallow TV. Here King breaks apart both the reality series and the sitcom, then cobbles them together flawlessly.

Kudrow and King hopelessly cage Valerie in an entertainment chasm where sitcoms are dying but the quick-fix solution of reality shows turns out to be even more dangerous. Every other show that has poked fun at this genre always does so with an admiring wink and nod. On the contrary, King has no love for reality TV. He shows the clutter of a 3-man camera crew crashing through a room before its subject walks in. He shows the participants editing, re-editing and contriving their own lives for the cameras. He goes beyond showing the participants being manipulated in editing, he shows them being violated by the cameras for cheap laughs that are celebrated by a public that takes pleasure in mocking celebrities. "Comeback" gives us the sharpest and most honestly ugly look at the reality of reality TV you will see. Valerie slowly has the hope that this forum will get her back in the spotlight drained as she looses more and more control over her show.

That same downward glare is applied to sitcoms. As the other show within the show, "Room & Bored" is a perfectly awful parody of every youth-pandering network series that is fun to rip on but would probably be a solid hit if it was really on NBC or Fox. The sheer straight-faced nature of everything and the intricate detail King puts into making "Bored" believable makes it all the funnier. Just about every joke here works. From Juna (Malin Akerman) the sexy break-out star whose popularity swallows up the show to a retooling attempt that jams 2 new characters into an already crowded mix, "Bored" appears to Jump the Shark several times. A combustible piece of fitful hilarity, "Valarie Hangs Out with the Cool Kids" maybe my favorite episode.

To the outside observer Lisa Kudrow's appearance as a once-sitcom star might make it look like "The Comeback" is sponging off her own sitcom. No, "Comeback" is a dark series, raw, messy and miserable. Valerie Cherish will probably scare the bejesus out of the average "Friends" fan. The laughs are found in humiliation, awkward silence and King's pension for injecting real world details everywhere. If there was any thought that the cringing humor of "The Office" couldn't be replicated in America, "Comeback" busts that up.

More consistent than "Curb Your Enthusiasm", a better Inside Hollywood show than "Entourage". King has laser-focused "The Comeback" as a contemporary satire about its specific time and place in the television timeline, yet the show so richly satisfying, complexly rendered and its breakout classic lead character is so unique that it is hard to forget or easily dismiss. A TV show for TV fans, "Comeback" is audience-challenging, utterly hilarious and very highly recommended.

* * * * / 5
Ballagar
Ballagar
"The Comeback" is a well done blending of "The Office", "The Larry Sanders Show", and "Curb Your Enthusiasm". It is a fake reality show about an idiotic TV star that offers a parody of both reality TV and network sitcoms.

The show is composed of reality TV footage filmed during the life of a TV star from the 80's, played by Lisa Kudrow, trying to wage a career comeback by staring in a new TV sitcom. The twist is that rather than showing us a final edited fake reality TV show, the show is composed of outtakes from the fake reality TV show. We get to see the character redo lines that are supposed to be spontaneous reality, we see her continually tell the filmmakers to stop filming -- which they never do. And we even see the filmmakers themselves dealing with some of the logistical problems inherent in making this type of show.

What makes it all work is that Lisa Kudrow's character is a buffoon. She is totally delusional about how big of a star she is and the show asks us to laugh at her vanity and idiocy. She is a lot like the boss on BBC's "The Office", because she is a lead character we are meant to laugh and cringe at. At the same time, Kudrow gives her character just enough empathy that as much as we hate her we also feel sorry for her just a little bit. Knowing that Kudrow was so intimately involved in a network TV sitcom, makes the parody directed at sitcoms come across as very realistic and especially funny.

As long as you know that the show itself is supposed to be bad, and if you like the kind of comedy that is filled with cringe inducing moments of embarrassment, then you will like this show.
BORZOTA
BORZOTA
I was initially unimpressed with The Comeback. Never having been a fan of Friends, I didn't feel any particular connection with Lisa Kudrow. But since I watch Entourage and it is the lead-in show, I kept the TV on. The first few shows had me wondering why Lisa Kudrow would want to do such a crappy show...but for some unexplainable reason, I kept watching. I feel like, now at nearly the end of the first season, that I "get" the show. I am glad that I stuck it out. There have been some very funny moments on the show. In fact I decided to watch the season over again with a different perspective and have gained more from the second viewing, (with On-Demand). The Palm Springs episode really did it for me. Since then the show has only gotten better. There are a lot of long pauses to the show. I think this is indicative of the character's inability to say what is really on her mind, but usually ends up putting her foot in her mouth anyway. The premise of the show seemed a little confusing at first, but it's not hard to put it all together. Valerie Cherish is a washed up TV actress trying to gracefully get back in the groove, but she really isn't all that graceful. At the same time a reality show is being made to follow her on her comeback trail. The characters grow on you--Valerie Cherish, her husband, step-daughter and text- messaging friends; Valerie's young cast-mates on her TV show Room and Bored, and the humorless writers; her longtime gay hairstylist who is still only half-way out of the closet; her always present reality crew waiting for something awful to happen so they can boost ratings on the possibly-dying reality TV genre. It is subtle comedy and it just needed a little bit of a chance to find its ground. Without the irritating laugh-tracks and corny music of most TV comedies, the quiet pauses on the show are not the negative, uncomfortable ones that I first disliked--now it is off and running. And I really do look forward to the show!
Bedy
Bedy
I have finally finished The Comeback. I started it because of the raves I heard about Kudrow, and let me tell you, they are completely deserved. Kudrow is magnificent here, she not only handles the comedy perfectly with the unique touch that she also had in Friends, but she develops Valerie with many different layers. It's not until the series goes by that those layers are peeled away, and we really truly understand Valerie as a whole. In the pilot episode, one is ready to say that Valerie is a little too full of herself, or naive. Her flaws are recognizable, and yet as more episodes go on, you not only learn to recognize her flaws clearly, but also learn to accept her as a human being. It's very easy to empathize with her, and Kudrow is completely mesmerizing in her most vulnerable moments.

Take a scene in the 12th episode where she tells the audience and the crew about her experience when she was younger, as a girl with a back brace. Kudrow plays it amazingly, with her character's usual sugar tone and with her deep sadness and hurt rising to the surface. But most importantly, she plays it all with her eyes. Moments like these are crucial to her character, and Kudrow is dynamite when it comes to playing the most hilarious moments and also the darkest. The show is pretty great, but it's great because Valerie Cherish is an expertly- written character, and because Kudrow gives one of the best comedic performances I have ever seen, both on the small and big screen. Anyone who hasn't seen this, do! Such a shame it only ran for one season, especially because the ending promised even more interesting things to come.
Rrinel
Rrinel
Lisa Kudrow stars in this new HBO vehicle as Valerie Cherish, a newly has-been actress who joins the cast of a "Three's Company" type show complete with bouncy, young newcomers who are the true stars of the show while she is relegated to playing the uptight, frumpy Aunt who lives above her niece and roommates. While she still feels herself relevant, youthful and sexy, she is by Hollywood's standards, day old bread. It's very interesting to watch someone who once was tabloid fodder descend to being incidental. Valerie Cherish is treated with polite, yet little respect from the young cast while the writers obviously feel disdain towards her. On top of all this is a reality show that is being filmed about her experience with her new show.

A brilliant portrayal of a person coming to grips with not having the world at her feet anymore and having to deal with watching the success that she once enjoyed and probably thought would never end being granted to the pretty blonde young star of the show.

I think this show is terrific and it always leaves you wanting more. Definitely worth checking out.
Vispel
Vispel
Lisa Kudrow's HBO Special Series "The Comeback" is a rare hybrid that combines reality TV and satire directed to the television industry and the people behind the scenes.

Ms. Kudrow's persona of a dippy untalented actress pays off big time in her take of this larger than life personality she is portraying, Valerie Crash. She is hopeless, but what most people don't get it, the joke is on the viewer because this series wants to make it appear that way. In fact, Ms. Kudrow seems to know perfectly well what to give to her public, as shown in the different episodes we have seen.

"The Comeback" has some of the best writers working on television these days. The creators, Michael Patrick King and Michael Lehmann, direct with great style. They seem to know what goes on during the production of some of what we watch as comedy on television. The writing is pretty accurate and again, some great minds are behind this.

Ms. Kudrow seems to be having great fun with Valerie, a woman who has no clue about anything.
Ustamya
Ustamya
The only thing wrong with The Comeback is that it came out a few years ahead of its time.

Lisa Kudrow is pure genius. She finds a way to turn the contemptible into the endearing and feel for a character despite how deeply she's flawed.

The show came out in 2005 just before the reality television industry truly spun out of control and those in the industry were probably less than amused by HBO's dead on parody of their pathetic, narcissistic excuses for entertainment.

The Comeback is so good that it hurts.

GOD I wish this show had gotten more than one season! If HBO had had the balls to stay behind it, it would go down in history with Larry Sanders as one of the greatest shows ever made about the entertainment industry.
fightnight
fightnight
This show is perfection !! I'm actually kind of...furious cause it seems like people are only realizing it now that they're finally releasing a second season ( 9 years later !!! ).

When it first aired, there was neither Kardashian Family showing off their uselessness or Tori Spelling divorcing on cam and YET Lisa Kudrown and Michael Patrick King saw that coming !!

It's like a trip in the mind of some desperate actress we see on magazine covers week after week only to talk about her diet or boyfriend of dog.

November couldn't come faster !! Can't wait any longer.
Hidden Winter
Hidden Winter
Contrary to the widely-held perception that Lisa Kudrow's character of Valerie Cherish is a total loser for whom nothing ever goes well, I've found that every time something humiliating happens to her it is mitigated by something positive. The audience is often set-up to expect her to be completely ridiculed and thwarted at every turn, but just when this appears to be happening she is saved from being truly crushed. Waiting to be introduced at the up-fronts, putting in a call for Tom Selleck to guest-star on the sitcom, and of course the spectacular season finale all prove that things can always get better. Valerie ISN'T surrounded by people who hate her. For every Paulie G there's a Tom Peterman, for the hateful stepdaughter there's the often exasperated but still loyal husband, and for the cocky cast-mates there's the sweet Juna. I found myself really rooting for Valerie Cherish, who makes up for her lack of true talent by being a "trooper"; always ready to do her best albeit for her own advancement. Yes there are uncomfortable moments but that's part of the show's premise. It's odd that people are not made uncomfortable by rampant violence on HBO shows like "Rome" and the beloved "Sopranos" find an aging sitcom star being made to wait by the valet parking attendant so off-putting.
Camper
Camper
You feel bored at first. You're kind of embarrassed for Lisa Kudrew at first. Don't we all feel on some level that she's somebody we already know and love and sort of our friend because we've all had that great experience watching her as an equal and vital part of "Friends"?

At first you kind of just feel weird about "The Comeback". And there's all this kind of stuff that isn't exactly groundbreaking, and the first episode you see, regardless of which of the first 12 episodes you happen to watch as the initial episode that you watch will probably leave you thinking, why in the world would I (me, now, this guy who's writing all for you to read) tell you that any episode you pick up first will leave you feeling bored. Thats not a very good way to start a review, is it? And yet..., and yet...

I missed the original airing of this series and happened across all 13 being offered "on demand" on HBO cable his past weekend (april 2007) and never having heard of it noticed it had Lisa K. and thought I'd watch it just cause of that. I watched episode six first. And was kinda bored. And just though, oh, uh, whatever. So, watched something else next that day. But, then it was a slow TV day and it was cold outside and I flipped around and nothing else was one so I came back to this and just jumped ahead to the last one, #13 thinking that, well, even if it was boring at least I'd know what a happened, as it did kinda make me wonder, as boring as it was....

Then I watched the last episode (#13) as the second one in this series I watched. And I was drawn in a little more, cause there are some really awful feelings that come out during the episode which I felt really strangely and really deeply cause I didn't know what was going on. But I kinda sorta did. And I felt kind of embarrassed for them all. But I couldn't help noticing how deeply this stored bored into me in that episode, on a level that was unusual, especially given its (still, to me) tepid nature. Albeit episode #13 did give a decent payoff.

So, I decided to watch another episode and thought I'd better just watch the episode before episode #13, in case they were all boring and this was the best it was going to get. So I watched #12. And was stunned to find myself being drawn in a little more. And so I kind of wanted to watch #11 by then as I decided I'd just count down backwards.

And, as I did, I began to "get it". And I began to understand what they were doing, and how incredible Lisa Kudrow was actually being, in this remarkable achievement. And each time I dropped back an episode I became more and more increduleious at how they had and were and did and were still doing, turning all this boring stuff into something incredible. And as the episodes rolled backwards I actually changed over from being bored to being totally engrossed and I began to laugh out loud once I began to "get it". And I started to actually tear up a little, and I begin to understand that somehow, show how, from the seemingly dull and boring and slow and kind of mindless they were being more than just the obviously wickedness they were also being after you got past the idea it was boring, and I realized they were creating something much much more, they looked into this woman's soul and they had found not only her, the characters humanity, but all of the cast were actually being all they could be in these roles and building a platform upon which Lisa Kudrow stood and then she delivered something worthy of all the effort it took to hold her up there, she did them, the cast holding her up there, justice, and she did us, the audience, justice, and she did her own self justice, and she did the character justice, and she did justice even to her old cast mates in Friends, and she brought honor even upon her own family, for this is something they could be proud of from her in a way that is universal. For, in fact, she brought humanity to this woman, the real humanity of exactly how this woman would live in our world as it is today. Lisa portrayed, in this character, life as it really is. No matter who you are or what you do, most people, when it comes down to it, deep inside have the same fears and hopes and dreams and ways of getting along in the world but still wanting what ever it is you want.

By the time I'd come to the end I was enormously sad that this was all there would ever be of this series and that I would never again be able to have the joy of seeing it all for the first time. And I'm so glad I watched it in the way I did, for it was the best way to see it.

Though there will not be more episodes, its okay. For this series, these 13 episodes comprise a masterpiece. It is the Citizen Kane of the work of our generation of storytelling. I predict that over time it will rise in esteem as "Its a Wonderful Life" did. The Comeback is just as good and worthy.

I hope you "get it". I sure did.
Samutilar
Samutilar
To call it a comedy though would be wrong. It's far too deep a character study for that. It's so satisfying when she has moments of honesty, be they positive or negative. That's what made the Paulie G punch so satisfying. Like the drunken phone call. Also, her talk with Jane in her dressing room was killer too. Guh. Pure genius.

I think maybe it's because The Comeback is so good that you sometimes do forget that it isn't real. The unpredictability is also a high point of the series. How many people were waiting for Valerie to do her back in? And instead she sucks it up (I think she was in pain) and punches Paulie G. And you know when she brought the poster of herself in to show Juna for a laugh. And the writers for the first time ever saw her as being attractive and desirable. That was a brilliant moment too...

Who really shines on this show are Jane (Valerie's reality crew) and Juna (who is developing a mentor-ship bond with Valerie and you see Juna flourishing while Val is floundering no matter how hard she tries).

After the show, so many things seem mediocre.
Ziena
Ziena
I never watched "The Comeback" while it was on. But having just watched the series, I cannot believe how short-lived this show was. This is one of the funniest, sharpest show-within-a-show comedies to have come on TV in recent years. It's a funny but scathing look at Hollywood's decent down the Reality Show / Anything for Ratings drain.

Lisa Kudrow is stellar as Valerie Cherish. She blends vanity and selfishness with an underside of cluelessness and pity that makes you never able to hate her. In fact, as the show goes on you begin liking her more and more despite her shortcomings. The support cast are wonderful, especially Mickey as her flamboyant and loyal hairdresser/assistant.

Shame on HBO for giving up on this series so soon.

Highly recommended: I watched the entire series on DVD in two days!
Adrietius
Adrietius
In the tradition of "Waiting For Guffman," "Best in Show," "A Mighty Wind," and then on TV, "The Office" (both British and now American) and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," this is truly one of the great "mockumentaries"--I can watch the episodes again and again and still laugh (or cringe!). Lisa Kudrow is so believable and therefore so heartbreaking as Valerie Cherish that she must truly be a genius, a rare talent. Though the viewer is invited to laugh at Valerie's shallowness and shameless narcissism, Lisa Kudrow is able to portray Valerie in such a way that her vulnerabilities and humanity lead the viewer ultimately to cheer for her success. The supporting cast, too, are so believable that when I look at cast pictures I have a hard time thinking of them as actresses and actors.
Windforge
Windforge
I bought this as a long-time fan of Friends and of Lisa Kudrow as an actress (The Opposite of Sex and Wonderland are two *good* performances). I have just finished watching the last episode.

I can understand why this show did not get taken to the American public's heart. It depends too much on one character, and is not funny in the Friends, 30 Rock or even Ugly Betty style. Much of the "humour" lies in the continual humiliations that the central character Valerie Cherish undergoes, often self-inflicted - indeed, the readiness to be at the centre of a reality show is a source of continual embarrassments that, because seen by the reality show crew, are bound to be humiliating. Her high opinion of her own worth is constantly being undercut by what happens to and around her. The subtleties of the script in bringing out her character are one of the major features of the show.

At first I simply felt embarrassed for the character. But as well as all the relentless attempts at self-promotion and dizzying over-estimation of herself she does increasingly show sympathy for others, builds a relationship with Jane the director of the reality show that is suggested to make Jane sympathetic towards her, and goes against all her own principles in supporting an actors' strike that the other actors then duck out of. She then shows the nerve to confront the chief writers with their responsibility for the situation that led to the strike. This is in the second half of the season, when she begins to notch up some real if minor successes. Finally, she does what anyone with any heart will have been wanting her to do for ages and hits the odious Paulie G., one of the two chief writers, right where he lives, in his big fat gut.

There is a splendid irony in the fact that this, taped by the reality show crew and made part of its first episode, catapults her to real (if perhaps temporary) fame again, being featured on the Leno talk show, and ensures a second season of the reality show as well.

It would be interesting to know what ideas Kudrow and King had for a second season, because in many ways this was a natural end. Pushing her back into the swamp would have been an artistic mistake, I think.
Quashant
Quashant
This show is so special, so unique, it parodies reality shows 1,000,000% It is a great comedy. This show is very accessible. It should have done more seasons following Valerie from a TV comeback through movies, or a her own talk show, or her doing a voice over for a documentary. I have a lot of ideas that HBO should have done with this movie. I have seen Lance Barber (Paulie G) at Second City in Chicago, he kills !!!!!! Lance is a great talent, yet he is tasteful enough to underplay his role in the comeback and not be a cartoon. I am now a life long fan of him. I love this show, my wife and I have the video and we savor every carwreck moment like a fine wine.

I personally hate all reality shows, I think they are an absurd waste of time. But this is my favorite reality show. It shows truth.

This show is too good for TV, that's why HBO did it. And as for the cancelling, Shame on you HBO, your losing your edge. I'd rather see this than ROME anyday ! Please don't f*ck up Curb Your Enthusiasm, I beg you !!!!!!

[email protected]
Risinal
Risinal
Once again, another superb, hilarious, stellar US TV show gets the axe... The Comeback is up there with Arrested Development as an astonishingly clever, deeply crazy comedy that seems to be wasted on the average US TV viewer. Never a huge Friends fans, I have always felt that Kudrow was the 'interesting' Friend, and as Valerie Cherish (as well as in her Roos collaborations) she proves her skill, talent and 'barking' sense of humour in spades! Aniston plays Aniston plays Aniston... it's Kudrow who has the chops, the smarts and the timing here, millions of miles away from Phoebe. Shame on the viewers and the TV companies for losing this masterpiece... shame on you!
Tejar
Tejar
Wow. I just saw the first episode and I feel as if I've watched Nicholas Nickleby twice. Backwards. Tepid jokes, consistent discomfort. I saw a tape of a pilot Linklater shot for HBO which was total genius, but this is what HBO chose. Whatever. Anyway, Lisa Kudrow delivers an unimaginable litany of poor jokes in bad situations. There is also a long list of interesting cameos, all delivering performances that make Hayden Christensen look like John Hurt. I wonder if HBO is committed to airing all the episodes they shot. I'd rather listen to Larry Merchant pontificate about obscure Chinese eyeball tonic. Honestly, I'm angry. I want my half hour back. Dreadful.
Alianyau
Alianyau
This show could be one of the most significantly honest views you will ever see. In 5 or 10 years this series will come into view as a masterpiece of depicting reality in its time. There is an grim honesty portrayed in the episodes, so contrary to the crap on television now, and this show blatantly and repeatedly slaps them in the face. For those of you who have passed off The Comeback as 'funny' or 'just OK' your missing something. If you are open to the complexity of this show then watch it. I know it sounds overly dramatic or fanatical but the context of this show is intense. Watch it. Really WATCH it. Art that comes from truth is rare, and its ever more rare for it to translate, and boy does The Comeback ever.
Voodoogore
Voodoogore
I am lucky enough to be one of the few outside the US to see this program and am very grateful I stumbled across it. Much has been said about the comparisons with the English "The office" which, I guess, is now the benchmark for this type of show. The comparison is valid but "the comeback" is no way a ripoff. The skill and restraint the writers and actors show makes this the equivalent. To be honest, most US shows are made with the "1 is good, ten times is better' attitude. Those responsible aspire to something called quality. well I hear it has been cancelled, congratulations to the creators. Considering all the good shows that finish before there time, you should wear like a badge of honour.
JOGETIME
JOGETIME
Perhaps it's supposed to be the point, but this "inside baseball" representation of the entertainment world is not at all entertaining.

Beyond Kudrow's hyper-affected, grating voice, there's just nothing funny going on in the show at all. This is nothing more than an opportunity for people to guest-star on a show that's all about them. For any show (movie, etc.) to be effective and entertaining, it needs to connect with its audience. That's done either through a connection to something that the audience has either experienced personally or fantasized about experiencing.

Since I'm not a member of the self-absorbed, ego-maniacal entertainment industry, it just doesn't register and fails to live up to the category of either documentary, mockumentary or entertainment of any kind. For all that HBO has done so well, this one brings down its average significantly.