Announcing the launch of its digital studio last month, AMC hailed the creator of its debut production, Peter Glanz, as "an original filmmaker with a very unique voice." After the Tuesday premiere of "The Trivial Pursuits of Arthur Banks," you have to wonder if Woody Allen would agree (on AMCTV.com and Hulu).
"Banks" occupies the blurry middle ground between homage and wholesale theft by borrowing so liberally from Allen that Glanz could hardly be considered original or unique. The title character, played by Adam Goldberg, is classic Allen: an artistic, self-centered womanizer who has a taste for young girls like the teenager he beds in the opening episode.
But if that isn't quite "Manhattan" enough, Banks is accompanied by all the trappings of an Allen dramedy, including shooting in black and white, suit-and-tie fashion, bone-dry narration, jazz soundtrack and of course, a therapist (Jeffrey Tambor) to which Banks can spill his rotten guts.
Nakedly derivative or not, "Banks" is an odd concoction for the less rarefied world of online video. It's a contrast drawn sharp every time ads for violent videogame "Rage" precede and interrupt an episode of "Banks." It's a jarring reminder of which style of entertainment truly reigns on the Web.
If there's a unique attribute to "Banks" it's Goldberg who doesn't channel Allen so much as brew his own distinct dark cloud of neurotic madness. Then again, it's something Goldberg has done in so many other productions that it doesn't feel that fresh here, either.
Give Glanz this much credit: "Banks" is rendered as ultra-stylized as a "Mad Men" episode; let's hope he can get a directing assignment out of this. But as for conjuring up an original, unique world, "Banks" proves he's not exactly Matthew Weiner.