'Shameless' - 'Aunt Ginger': Someone borrowed
A quick review of tonight's "Shameless" coming up just as soon as I want a burrito...
"Aunt Ginger" was the first episode of the American series to not have Paul Abbott's name on the script(*), and its titular storyline is the first significant plot of the series so far that (near as I can tell from some Google'ing) isn't from the British show. And though I stopped watching British "Shameless" after the pilot, I don't think it's necessarily a coincidence that this is the first episode of the Showtime version that largely clicked for me.
(*) The credited writer is Nancy Pimental, who was a staff writer on "South Park," briefly replaced Jimmy Kimmel on "Win Ben Stein's Money" (before being replaced herself by Cousin Sal), got a big money deal for her script for the Cameron Diaz movie "The Sweetest Thing," then seemingly vanished from the business not long after "The Sweetest Thing" got some of the most vicious reviews I've ever read. And now she's back. It is a weird, unpredictable business, Hollywood is.
There's probably still too much Frank (as I've said before, I usually like William H. Macy but feel like he's playing dress-up in this part), but the interaction between young Debbie and fake Aunt Ginger seemed to hit the show's intended sweet spot of being both funny and just a little heartbreaking at the same time. We don't know the full story about the kids' mom, but it's clear just how desperate Debbie's been for a maternal figure with a big more age and wisdom than Fiona can offer - even one who's both senile and a kidnapping victim.
It's not necessarily an original vs. adapted question, though. I also liked the storyline with Ian ironically getting in trouble for not fooling around with the loosest girl in class, then making friends with her, which I gather was told on the original show at some point. Maybe I just prefer stories focusing largely on the Gallagher kids (see also Lip's date under the train tracks), and while Frank is very present in the Aunt Ginger story, it's ultimately not about him. I think it also helped that there wasn't a ton of Steve in this one (even though the end points to more of him going forward), as I found Justin Chatwin a lot more convincing when Steve was supposed to be a naive yuppie than when he was revealed to be an even bigger crook than any of the Gallaghers.
This is the last episode Showtime sent out in advance of the premiere, and I don't know when or if I'm going to get more screeners. (Some cable channels tend to send as much out in advance as they can, but Showtime's iffier, and often I'll get a disc with 4 or 5 episodes at once, at least 2 of which will have already aired.) And given some other things with my Sunday night and Monday scheduling, I don't know if it's feasible to have this in the regular rotation if I'm not getting them in advance. Nor do I know if I'll necessarily have enough to say about the show from week to week. But I'll check back in at least a time or two more before the season is out.
What did everybody else think?