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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

“Trust Me” Review: Hard Not to Buy What These Guys Are Selling

Putting two of the most likeable actors on TV together doesn’t guarantee a successful show. Just ask Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton. Or John Goodman and Jean Smart.

But fortunately for Eric McCormack and Tom Cavanaugh, “Trust Me” comes with solid scripts to go with their likeability…

McCormack and Cavanaugh are Mason and Conner, creative partners at a major advertising agency. They’re a team within a creative group—Mason being the art director and Conner being the copywriter.

When we first meet them, the creative director of their group (i.e. their boss), Stu Hoffman, is having a bit of a meltdown. He’s had his ego bruised by one of the account managers and he’s taking it out on Mason, threatening to fire him. But since he’s played by “Life On Mars” star Jason O’Mara (played wonderfully, by the way), you know that he’s not long for the show. And sure enough, something does happen to Stu and Mason gets promoted to creative director. The promotion causes instant friction between the partners as Mason is forced to prove that he is capable of good work without Conner.

Meanwhile, the award-winning Sarah Krajiceck-Hunter (Monica Potter) appears ready to claim her partnership with Stu and her office with a window. But without Stu, she’s left to flounder in a cubicle until she can plot her way into a windowed office.
The premiere is solid as we meet all the players and get a glimpse into life at an ad agency, but the fun really starts in the second episode when we get to see more of the agency at work as Mason’s group scrambles to save a cell phone account from being snatched up by the agency golden child.

Eric McCormack was tailor made to play Mason. He has the good looks and boyish charm to make you trust Mason completely, but he also has that wry smile and scheming glint in his eye that make you think maybe you shouldn’t trust him completely after all. McCormack is also a master at playing slightly uptight guys as he does here—the Felix to Cavanaugh’s Oscar. And no one plays adorably goofy like Tom Cavanaugh. Much of the show depends on their chemistry so thankfully it works extremely well.

The supporting cast is also solid. The fabulous Sarah Clarke (Nina, “24”) is adorable as Mason’s wife, so I hope they give her more to do in future episodes (maybe something a little more vixenish since that’s how we’re used to seeing Clarke). And I’ve never been a Monica Potter fan, but she makes it work this time.

No doubt many will call “Trust” a modern version of “Mad Men.” But “Trust” is less about advertising than it is about the relationship between two best friends and how competition and ambition can get in the way.
And with McCormack and Cavanaugh as the two best friends, it’s hard not to buy what these guys are selling…
“Trust Me” premieres Monday, January 26th at 10 p.m. on TNT…
Photo Credit: Art Streiber/TNT