Did you see the first two seasons of The Kominsky Method? Hell of a Netflix miniseries like two or three long movies good as anything I’ve seen. And I’m not saying that because my son Michael Douglas stars in and executive produces the project. I give plenty of credit to the rest of the cast and screenwriting team led by Chuck Lorre.
I love the start when Michael steps unshaven before his class and says actors make believe and pretend but really what they’re doing is playing God and not for fame or money but love of their characters. Naturally, and I tell you this based on my own many delectable experiences, there’ll be ladies rewarding you if they like your work, and Michael starts dating pretty student Nancy Travis who’s only about fifteen years younger and that’s more age appropriate than plenty he’s known.
I should’ve told Michael to be careful or the sharp wit of Alan Arkin could steal the show. Alan’s got a living wife who’s dying then a dead wife who sometimes reappears and Lisa Edelstein, a drug-addicted, thieving daughter in her forties and a couple nice ladies after his affection but they’re already rich and not interested in his loot only outraged by his razor tongue. Alan slices everyone up, telling Michael he sure is peeing a lot. His urologist diagnoses an enlarged prostate and the biopsy reveals a few cancer cells but nothing that requires surgery or radiation. Just take Flomax to sooth the prostate and don’t worry about those retro-ejaculations that, rather than erupt, sink into the bladder.
Maintaining tension and humor the writers show poor Lisa Edelstein newly arrived at her eighth rehab facility and already chasing Michael and Alan as they drive away. A little later I just don’t believe my son would, as shown, fail to call blond Nancy for a week after their first time in bed. He’s not that irresponsible romantically.
Financially, he better be careful. He and his acting school are three hundred grand in debt to the IRS and he asks Alan for a loan and offers to pay a thousand a month. Alan isn’t worried about the money. He doesn’t want to destroy his relationship with best friend Michael. Okay, he’ll do it if Michael accepts the money as a gift and moves on. At their next lunch Michael writes a check for a grand and Alan flips it over and endorses it to the delighted waiter.
There’s a lot more to the first season but I’ve got to move to the second and Michael’s warning that ninety percent of the Screen Actors Guild is unemployed and most of the eager students before him will also end up that way. Michael’s daughter and business partner Sarah Baker wants him to meet her boyfriend Paul Reiser, who’s older. That’s good, a little older means a lot more mature, Michael observes. Actually, this guy’s in his sixties and twice as old as Sarah but they’re in love.
More good news arrives with Lisa returning from rehab clean and sober and she like her dad’s current old flame, Jane Seymour, but the sophisticated lady resents his bad manners and subsequently freezes him on the phone. Meanwhile, Michael has implausibly given Nancy the ultimatum of student or lover but not both, so she now tells him no sex. Happily, a generous serving of wine resolves that problem.
Good fortune ceases when Paul, after bloating from gaseous meat in a restaurant and being verbally carved by Alan, is felled by a heart attack and taken to the hospital where bypass surgery is performed. Michael, who’s battled and beaten tongue cancer off screen, now has to undergo cinematic immune-therapy for a cancerous spot on his lungs. The doctors think they’ve found it early. Octogenarian Alan, at least, has some good fortune when lady Jane gives him a call.
Michael collapses at home and Sarah, who’s checking on him, sees a bloody face when he opens the door. What the hell? He confesses he has lung cancer but refuses to live with her and Paul. He remains adamantly independent even after he collapses in Nancy’s bedroom. She decides to sell her home and move away. Michael desperately proposes but she isn’t convinced. Like a vulture Sarah strikes, telling her father he’s erratic and she intends to bring in working actors to strengthen the curriculum. The first guest is arrogant Allison Janney who barks that all Michael’s done is plaster his name on a window while she has won an Academy Award. Who would the students rather have? Michael learns they want her.
I don’t know what Chuck Lorre and those other writers are doing. And where the hell’s Michael? Okay, you guys relax and stay safe. Ol’ Kirk will create the third season. Allison Janney doesn’t have time to teach but since she implies she does I put her in the classroom where, tall and geeky, she berates rather than instructs and soon faces an academic – and almost physical – insurrection. She says you’ll all be failures before storming out. Michael tells Sarah, go ahead, you run the damn school, but she can’t deliver many stars and none for more than one evening class.
I didn’t mention that in part two Michael signed over the school to Sarah. Sounds crazy but we have to understand he’s a septuagenarian with an achy prostate and cancerous lung. But he ain’t dead. He demands Sarah tear up the contract he wrote under medical and psychological duress exacerbated by the aforementioned collapses. She refuses. He calls Alan Arkin to find out who’s the best lawyer for this kind of case. Alan gives him the name of an expensive operator. Michael can’t afford him. Okay, I’ll give you half the proceeds from the litigation.
What proceeds, asks the attorney? There won’t be any.
Sarah’s attendance is in the tank and she’ll soon have to shutter the school. Come on, Sarah, get real, Michael says. She agrees. School’s more fun when he’s there. Sarah needs a stable income and relationship with her father. Her boyfriend Alan, who’s hefty, suffers a second heart attack and is dead before he hits the boards of the stage at the acting school, where he’s been studying.
Alan Arkin’s got to be eight-five but he’s thin and tough and survives to get another call from Jane Seymour and that’s enough to motivate most men. She moves into his Beverly Hills mansion and they frequently travel to her three homes and have a good time.
Jacked up on Viagra or Cialis or perhaps both, Michael makes love to Nancy and points to Alan and Jane as people who should be their role models. Nancy, continuing to be kind, stable, and hot, agrees to reside with Michael but not marry him. As a precaution, she proceeds with the sale of her home and banks twice what she paid. She also starts getting jobs in the growing advertising market for beautiful middle-aged actresses. Michael’s delighted. He coaches her. She listens. After each commercial, he critiques. She tells him he’s her boyfriend not her director. She’s got several of those. Michael agrees. His cancer treatments, though not as debilitating as chemotherapy, are nonetheless taxing and he downshifts. After all, even Alan had retired, albeit in his eighties.
During a happy sojourn to one of Jane’s estates, Alan receives a call from police. I know, I know, he says.
Did someone already call you, the officer asks?
It’s my daughter, right.
The officer explains Lisa has relapsed on several drugs, sold most of the furnishings in his home, and left town with two drug dealers, one of whom perished with Lisa in a high speed chase on Highway 1 south of Santa Barbara.
Alan loves his daughter but also hates her so we must assume his decline is due to age and he simply doesn’t respond one sunny morning when Jane says, Alan, wake up, please wake up.
There’s nothing more in L.A. for Jane and she departs and we haven’t heard from her.
I guess it’s up to me to decide who gets Alan’s millions. I’ve got his will right here. It says Lisa will get everything if she’s living a sober and responsible life. Otherwise, Michael gets a quarter and medical science receives the rest.
Michael keeps teaching and, encouraged by Sarah, once or twice a month hires a working actor to address the class and do whatever, if any, dramatic exercises are deemed helpful. Sarah continues to be an assistant and business partner rather than a rival to her father. I write a couple of scenes with her bookkeeping and using phone and email to set appointments for guest lecturers. She’s neither an actor nor teacher of the craft.
Michael and Nancy make a charming and talented couple and are still together as the curtain drops.