Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Oscar Season: Mary McNamara, February 17—March 3, 2014
My rating: ♦♦◊◊◊
This was as absorbing as concrete.
Oscar Season, which opens with a superstar found dead in the water right before a big awards ceremony, was originally planned for 2012 but was pulled from the schedule after an unfortunate case of life imitating art right after it started. So here we are, finally getting to see what happens.
Juliette Greyson is the mega wonderful second-in-command of a busy Hollywood hotel who will be hosting a menagerie of stars over the Oscars. Two issues emerge. Issue 1: people start getting killed. Issue 2: Juliette’s ex-husband will be staying, with the actress he left her for, as they are in contention for awards.
McNamara has no clue if she is writing a murder mystery or just a piece of chick-lit. Writing in third person limited omniscient mode is a good decision – exclusively following Juliette from one event to the next emphasises her busy, non-stop life. However, most of Juliette’s attention is split between her ex-husband Josh, her charming boss Devlin and Michael O’Connor, the famous actor who is, unbeknownst to the world, undergoing chemotherapy in one of the Pinnacle’s suites and appears to take a shine to her.
The mystery and intrigue takes a back seat and lacks any urgency. It rumbles along to a predictable conclusion without any sense of event. Our protagonist simply figures it out during a conversation, then carries on with life.
All of the characters are exactly the same, except O’Connor, who is a bit interesting and vaguely different from the rest. It’s hard enough to keep track of a bloated ensemble, many of whom are completely pointless, without each of them being identical to the one before. Where there are odd cameos from real world celebrities – Victoria Beckham, Hugh Laurie and Robin Williams have brief speaking parts, for example – they’re all contrived and lend nothing to the story, frivolous or otherwise – except their name. The other legends seen chatting in the back ground were more appropriately handled.
I really wanted to like Oscar Season and I’m frustrated because it had the potential to be so much better. Greater focus on the key storylines and inverting the emphasis between Juliette/Josh/Anna/Devlin/Michael pentangle and the people-dying-and-Hollywood-in-meltdown storylines, which was only ever allowed to tease us before vanishing again for a chapter or two, would have been of enormous benefit.
Sadly, the only time this will make the red carpet will be to vacuum it.