Let’s be charitable or at least forgiving and call Woody Allen‘s Crisis in Six Scenes, a new six-part, 140-odd-minute Amazon miniseries, a dud that causes no pain. Tolerably substandard, it’s basically The Man Who Came To Dinner set in the politically incendiary climate of the late ’60s with Miley Cyrus as a kind of Sheridan Whiteside. I binged through the whole thing last night, and didn’t feel the least bit angry at the general lackadaisical atmosphere. A little bit bored, perhaps, but I got through it. I felt placated. And then I finally made it to the payoff, which happens during the final two episodes.
I don’t regard Allen’s failure to consistently churn out films along the lines of Match Point or Midnight in Paris to be a prosecutable offense. He’s pushing 81 and is naturally going to show signs of slowing down. Over the last half-century Allen’s films have almost always been satisfactory (original stabs at personal excavation, ambitious concepts, pointed urban humor, etc.) and have sometimes achieved greatness, but now the best that can be hoped for is that he might just luck into an extraordinary idea or hook of some kind and deliver another gem. Please, just one more.
Yes, eventually the biological odds are going to overwhelm and it’ll be time to hang it up. At the same time I admire his no-retirement, bop-til-you-drop attitude.
Crisis in Six Scenes has gotten killed by critics so I naturally watched with lowered expectations, but the last two episodes, as noted, manage to raise the boats. This is primarily because of two scenes — one between Allen’s character, a Connecticut-residing novelist and would-be TV writer, and an amiable state policeman (Michael Rapaport) and a case of mistaken identity, and the second a tribute to the famous “stateroom scene” in A Night At The Opera (’35).
The latter happens inside Allen’s home and involves…oh, a good 15 or 20 characters of various ages and attitudes (except they’re all familiar types from previous Allen films), added to in increments and involving a constant knocking on the front door. It felt to me like a microcosm of the debate about late ’60s radical activism among the wealthy, educated types back then. I sat up and smiled and actually laughed two or three times. That’s not nothing.