Picks and Pans Review: A Comic Stimulus Package

updated 07/06/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/06/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

HBO, June 28, 10 p.m. ET |

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The title, referring to the below-the-belt endowment of the show's hero, is a bit of a come-on. This is not tele-Viagra. Hung, set outside Detroit, is more like American Gigolo retooled for our glum recession. Ray Drecker (Thomas Jane) is a high-school teacher stranded in middle age. His credit is shot, his ex (Anne Heche) has married a rich dermatologist, and his uninsured house burns down, forcing him to live in a tent. Ray's one marketable skill is his prowess in the sack. He edges into a sideline as escort, managed by one of the strangest pimps in history: a failed poet, Tanya (Jane Adams), who believes in his "talent" (she's slept with him) and promotes him in a town where business is dying but women will pay cash for quick happiness. Jane (The Punisher) plays Ray with a powerful mix of bruised ego, baffled humor and sexual charisma. His easy rapport with the flutey, odd Adams, though, is the show's core. They turn Hung into an unexpected buddy comedy.

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