‘The Kominsky Method’ – Douglas and Arkin make endearing tandem
In his first TV series since “Streets of San Francisco” more than 40 years ago, Michael Douglas shows off formidable comedic chops as an aging acting coach whose life didn’t quite turn out as planned in a dramedy premiering this week on Netflix.
In “The Kominsky Method,” an eight-episode half hour series premiering Friday, Nov. 16, the “Wall Street” Oscar winner stars as Sandy Kominsky, a former actor in the autumn of his years whose career and life has seen its ups and downs, including a divorce. Now a respected acting coach in Los Angeles, he teaches his craft to a group of neurotic, eccentric and occasionally clueless young thesps, all the while trying to keep his harsher comments to himself.
His constant companion is his agent Norman (Oscar winner Alan Arkin, “Argo”), a debonnaire though irascible sort who like Sandy is navigating his later years and the issues therein. There is also Sandy’s daughter, Mindy (Sarah Baker, “Big Little Lies”), who works with him at his acting school; and a possible love interest, Lisa (Nancy Travis, “Last Man Standing”), just coming off a divorce of her own.
The series is the brainchild of Chuck Lorre (“Two and a Half Men,” “The Big Bang Theory”), on whose relationship with his own agent the series is based. Like many of his other series, it boasts crisp writing and an enjoyable chemistry between its two leads that really makes the series go.
“One of the joys of something like ‘The Kominsky Method’ for me,” Douglas says, “is I’m not inherently a comedian but I love comedy. I’m always trying to do it so this is a real chance to work for some of the best in terms of Chuck Lorre and work on your comedic chops. … Alan’s great. He’s got good comic chops and I’m able to learn a lot from him.”
Also attractive for Douglas was the fact that “The Kominsky Method” is a streaming series, which like with movies is shot without commercial breaks.
“You say it’s a half-hour comedy but it could be 25 minutes long or 35 minutes long, each episode,” he explains. “So there was a lot of creative freedom and it sort of reminded me of what feature filmmaking was like back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, a golden time for me when (it) was more creatively driven rather than corporately driven.
“So I said, ‘Yeah, where do I sign on?’ ” he continues. “And of course, Alan Arkin is a wonderful actor, my co-star, and so I just had really, really good material. It was a really wonderful script – little short scripts, like short little films, sort of like when I did ‘Streets’ but no commercials. So it was a good experience all the way around.”