Picks and Pans Review: Out of Order

UPDATED 06/09/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/09/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

Showtime (Sun., June 1, 10 p.m. ET)
Critic's Choice

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Why do so many TV and movie scripts feature characters who work in the entertainment industry? Well, there's something to the adage "Write what you know." Created by husband-and-wife screenwriters Donna and Wayne Powers (The Italian Job), this five-week series about a troubled Hollywood marriage has a core of truth that compensates for its lapses into gimmickry.

Out of Order (moving to Mondays as of June 9) focuses on Mark (Eric Stoltz) and wife Lorna (Felicity Huffman), who collaborate professionally on screenplays for what he calls popcorn movies. Their personal life is where the heavier drama takes place, as Lorna sinks into depression and substance abuse. Meanwhile, Mark seeks sexual release and less demanding companionship with a desirable soccer mom (Kim Dickens). Stoltz and Huffman are so good at conveying the emotional intimacy and festering resentments of a long-term couple that I can tolerate Mark's distracting habit of imagining his life as a movie.

BOTTOM LINE: Well-played scenes from a marriage

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