One And Done: Foster Hall

foster hall index

Ever wanted to see an adult Macaulay Culkin naked? Well quite, haven’t we all, and thanks to Foster Hall now you can as the beginning of the show features such a scene, though I know you’ll be crushed to hear that his genitalia are pixelated. During this bit a narrator fills us in on the overall concept of the series where twins Clark (Culkin) and Peg (Busy Philips) were in and out of foster homes their entire childhood, rarely lasting six months before their new parents kicked them out. But now are both adults recently out of prison and Peg’s married to her former therapist Jack (show creator Christopher Moynihan) which yeah, sounded dodgy to me too but it turns out he’s a decent guy and the show has a lot of fun with the idea. It’s an amusing opening sequence with a lot of great visual jokes, and it gave me hope that the pilot would be a decent one. And it mostly is, bar the occasional misstep.

After the opening exposition there’s a scene where Peg is being interviewed by her parole office Gloria (Ana Ortiz), and it turns out she’s been in jail for stealing a puppy, which surely shouldn’t be a crime, well, unless the puppy already had owners I guess. Gloria also knows Clark and slightly fancies him too, which I’m guessing was going to be on an ongoing plot point if the show had been taken to series. Then we cut to Peg’s home and she’s finally back with Jack and all seems well between the two until she learns that Clark has recently stolen a photo she had of him playing with dolls on the toilet – when he was nineteen. She often used it to blackmail him and so is gutted he’s now got it, especially as it used to stop him singing a cruel song about her. Then there’s a flashback to their lives as kids and a bit more exposition about what life used to be like and it’s mentioned that Clark, oh, he be crazy and mean and then some if crossed.

Which is all rather handily the perfect time for Clark to visit, and instantly he makes a dodgy “Did they rape you?” joke about her time in prison because he loves to be cruel to his sister. This is expanded upon when he tells Jack about the fact that he once videoed Peg making out with an ugly guy and now that he has the photo of himself on the toilet he holds all the cards. Peg tries to claim that she’s growing up and tired of these stupid fights, only for him to respond “Next up menopause”, as it seems they really didn’t want us to like the character. Fortunately Culkin has a great deal of charm and so even though he’s a bit of a shit he still comes across as likeable. Then to move the plot on a little somewhat stupidly Peg tells him they’re having a party on Friday night and that Clark isn’t invited, so yeah, I think you can guess what happens next. There are at least a few decent jokes in this bit like when Peg comments on Clark’s new business being “Pretending to be deaf at the airport again”, along with a gag about how Clark recently punctured his scrotum with a nail gun, and that his business card reads “Expert Crapenter” instead of Carpenter.

The following scene sees Busy and Jack hosting the party, and shock horror, within twenty seconds Clark turns up, as does Grace the parole officer who just happens to be checking in on Peg to see how she’s doing. It turns out that Gloria and Clark once had an intimate moment and Gloria’s horrified to see him, despite her showing interest in him during the opening scene, and screams at Peg that this is strike one and if she screws up again she’ll go back to prison. Which is weird, as I’m pretty sure that spending time with your brother isn’t a parole breaking matter, but hey, it adds a little drama to events so I shan’t complain. Indeed said moment causes the best part of the episode as Clark and Peg then fight, with Peg handing out his “Expert Crapenter” cards, telling embarrassing stories about the time he wet himself as a kid and revealing the picture of Clark on the toilet which she had a backup of all along. And so Clark kills her, which is a shame, as she’s a likeable character. Okay, fine, instead he takes to the piano and sings the cruel song about her being “Piggy Peggy Fatty Clown”, which sounds a bit horrible but the lyrics are genuinely pretty funny and catchy. At the end Jack tries to convince the two that their acts of meanness are actually acts of love, so of course they turn on him instead.

All in all it’s a pretty decent little show, with a good few very strong jokes and both Culkin and Philips make for very appealing leads, they’ve got great chemistry even if most of the time they are arguing with each other. There are a couple of dodgy moments, with one bit about Jack mispronouncing “pudding” leading to Peg commenting “To be honest with you I thought that was a little gay” in a snarky manner which made me wince, and the prison rape gag is poor. But apart from that it showed a lot of promise, for once it’s a sitcom that’s not just about a flat share, a will they / won’t they romance or friends hanging out shooting the shit, and if it would have been interesting to see how the dynamic between Peg and Clark might have evolved if they’d been given a full series, so it’s a real shame we didn’t get a chance to see such a thing.

Alex Finch.

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