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An Interesting Group Takes an Unusual Journey on 'Dispatches From Elsewhere'
March 1, 2020  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment

The lonely guy who finally finds someone to break through the clouds and bring sunshine into his life is not an unfamiliar television character.

One of television's earliest indelible dramas, Marty, revolved around Rod Steiger's awkward and lonely butcher meeting a girl at a dance and finally falling in love.

To measure how far television drama has traveled in the 67 years since Marty, check out Dispatches From Elsewhere, which premieres Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on AMC before moving to its regular spot on Mondays at the same time.

Dispatches opens by introducing us to Peter, played by Jason Segal (top), who also wrote the show. We quickly learn, in part, through a direct-to-viewer narration from a strange character named Octavio Coleman Esq. (Richard E. Grant), that Peter is another lonely man, all by himself in a city of millions.

He wakes up alone, works alone all day at a Spotify sort of music service, picks up takeout sushi, goes home, and watches TV while he eats it by himself.

Nothing subtle here. Peter has a lonely life.

Then, all of a sudden, he has a weird life. Peter does meet someone, and dancing is involved. But to try to explain the plotline of Dispatches From Elsewhere would take longer than just watching the show. It would also very likely sound just as confusing.

Peter gets a series of signs, literal and figurative, from a mysterious entity that seems to know who he is. It directs him to a series of places that seem to make no sense, but since, hey, what else does he have to do, he follows these strange commands.

Before we know it, he's answering calls on phones tacked onto walls in the middle of nowhere. He's singing in the rain.

Most importantly, he meets three other people who also seem to have been rounded up for some deliberate reason: Simone (Eve Lindley, top), Fredwynn (André Benjamin), and Janice (Sally Field).

Peter is drawn to Simone, and she to him. Like him, she has neuroses and reservations that make relationships hard, but together they find a visceral pleasure that it's clear neither has known before.

Lindley, a trans actress, plays the classic wounded human being brilliantly.

The potential, though by no means certain, relationship between Peter and Simone has to share screen time with the show's campy plotline, which routinely sends all the characters racing around as if someone had thrown darts at a map of New York City.

Eventually, they seem to settle into a central mission, one more or less, the details of which we learn as each of the first four episodes focuses on one of the main characters. These episodes, for the record, fill us in on backstory while never completely clearing up the weirdness.

Field's Janice, a married woman with an apparently "normal" life, enters the story as the closest thing to a wide-eyed innocent, and in some ways, that's the hardest role in a story so off-center. She handles it well.

The lonely guy part of Dispatches From Elsewhere never disappears. It just gets folded into a dozen other stories, and sometimes that's both the good and bad news here because there are stretches where we have no clue what's going on.

We just like the characters enough that we want to see where they come out on the other side.

Assuming there is an "other side."

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R. Dunn
That hot actress/girl is a Tranny...?! Nice ;-)
Mar 1, 2020   |  Reply
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