by DICK CHENEY
creators Joan Rater & Tony Phelan
"He's the first guy I feel like I could really talk to," Katherine Heigl explains to her mother, who is serving a life sentence since she was two years old. Her mother is very proud of Katherine Heigl, who has become a noted defense attorney. Why isn't anyone else proud of Katherine Heigl?
Actually, her boyfriend is. "You fight like most people breathe," Billy (Steven Pasquale) explains to her over dinner. He has just been released from prison on bail, but Katherine Heigl still finds something attractive about this pediatric surgeon, who is going to be convicted of a murder he committed twenty-four years earlier in Gramercy Park. He is really proud of Katherine Heigl: her education, after all, is considerable. She made it through four years of NYU without killing herself, and then headed uptown to Columbia for her law degree. It taught her, somewhere along the line, that it was OK to make love to her client. "We are the lucky ones," she muses in a private moment.
Katherine Heigl has everything she could ever want, yet people still don't want to watch her. At times she looks like a skeleton riding a bike through New York City in Doubt, the new show from the married Grey's Anatomy producers Joan Rater and Tony Phelan; she resembles a muppet when she is in the courtroom and her lips come together just so. Dulé Hill just looks at her like, "Why am I on this show?"
I guess it all comes back to when Katherine Heigl started saying bad things about Judd Apatow and how much Knocked Up sucked. It did suck, but maybe it was supposed to? 2007 was a very confusing year for a lot of people. Perhaps it was not the best idea to cast Ms. Heigl in a show that is exactly like Grey's Anatomy. "Travel's not my thing," she explains to her boyfriend at dinner, in an attempt to become even more unlikable to her target audience.
Men gave up on Katherine Heigl when she savagely turned on Seth Rogen, causing him to retreat into his office where he smoked so much pot that he drove other people out of the building. Women could still have a chance of liking Katherine Heigl, but Doubt gives them so many reasons not to do so. Personally, I love Katherine Heigl. Did you know that Katherine Heigl has two adopted children in real life, and is dating a murderer in not real life? "It's not going to be easy to explain the coincidence of the cat scratch to the jury!" someone bleats in the background.
In order to discover the reasons why Katherine Heigl's unpopularity has led to such low ratings, it behooved me to research the cause of Katherine Heigl's unpopularity with her key audience. This resulted in a somewhat combative conversation with my wife Lynne, which I have reproduced below to the best of my memory.
ME (DC): Do you think Katherine Heigl uses a loofah?
LYNNE: I don't believe she can actually ride a bike. That's probably a stunt double.
DC: Did you feel betrayed when she left Grey's Anatomy?
LYNNE: Not really, I mean, she was an actress on a TV show.
DC: Do you think Katherine Heigl smells like gasoline and Head & Shoulders?
LYNNE: They were still rolling out the credits on this show fifteen minutes in. Is that Omar Epps?
DC: No. Do you think people who travel don't like people who don't travel?
LYNNE: I don't understand the question.
To be fair, Doubt's questionable command of civil procedure renders the show essentially an extended fantasy sequence. In one of the show's key subplots, another attorney (Laverne Cox) wins the trial of a deranged man who pushed a woman in front of a subway. Afterwards, she commiserates with her associate (Dreama Walker), who exclaims, "Our client is on his way to a mental institution and we're supposed to be celebrating?" Where did she want a murderer to go, vacation?
Are you maybe starting to get the same sense that I am, that at one point Shonda Rimes killed a dude and the point of all these hour-long shows is to slowly legitimize murder in the eyes of the public until she confesses to Oprah and everyone is like, well, Viola Davis killed several people and continued a fruitful teaching career in a top tier law school, so you're fine Shonda?
But back to Katherine Heigl, the only subject really worth writing about. I have devised some suggestions for Katherine Heigl, so that she can resume her rightful career as a serious television and film star. My first thought was that she should do a role with an accent. Katherine Heigl with a southern accent would be just darling. If she can't do an accent, than she should stop dieting down to fit preconceived stereotypes about how leading ladies should look and play the role of a woman who is almost permanently pregnant. Gentile pregnant women are very sympathetic.
Anyway, it is kind of sad that Doubt is such a mess. I think part of the problem is that the show is photographed and scored like every other Shonda Rimes show. It just comes across feeling so generic at this point. Plus Katherine Heigl's outfits are not so exciting in this. She wears a lot of sweaters and the ensuing sexual milieu is extremely dated. I understand she is a powerful attorney in this diegesis, but she's already making love to her client, so keeping up appearances otherwise is maybe a misguided use of resources.
Dulé Hill and Katherine Heigl have a lot of chemistry. It would have been great fun to see them taking off their clothes, and I think that is where Doubt was eventually going down the road, but we'll never know now because the show is doing such garbage ratings. That's a shame, because I would have really enjoyed seeing their bodies press together. It would have sounded like a car wash.
Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.