After two blissfully Rand-free episodes of Pam & Tommy, Rand Gauthier (Seth Rogen) returned to dominate this week’s episode. As soon as things opened with a close-up of Rand looking like someone had just run over his favorite pet, I groaned very loudly. Rand is such an unlikable character and the show insists on trying to make us feel sorry for this loser. Even if Seth Rogen wasn’t both miscast and intent on giving the worst performance of his career in the role, Rand would make Pam & Tommy difficult to watch.
Rand (or Reed or whatever his name is supposed to be) was basically upset because he wasn’t making any money off of the Pam and Tommy sex tape. Instead, the bootleggers were making all the money. Rand/Reed also got upset because cocaine addict Uncle Miltie (Nick Offerman) turned out to be a bad business partner. Meanwhile, Butchie (Andrew “Dice” Clay, acting up a storm with little to show for it) wanted his money and demanded that Reed/Rand turn into a debt collector. “I AM THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS!” a frustrated Rand declared as he collected a debt and seriously, what the heck? (Folks, I gave up cursing for Lent. Just go with me here.) The episode’s best moment was when Rand tried to blackmail Tommy and Tommy reacted by setting the money on fire while Randy Reed watched. What made this scene so great was that Tommy called Reedy Rand a loser. Again, I got the feeling that we were supposed to feel bad for Rand but …. eh. Who cares? Rand is a loser and the mullet isn’t making him look any better.
If the highlight of the episode was Tommy setting that money on fire while taunting Rand, the show’s second best moment was Pam appearing on The Tonight Show and having to deal with a series of disrespectful and infuriatingly sexist questions from Jay Leno. The actor playing Leno essentially played him as being the devil, which was kind of amusing. Watching the scenes with Leno acting like a member of the Spanish Inquisition, I found myself thinking about how Ken Russell probably could have done something amazing with this material. The scene ended with Pam having to talk Tommy out of beating up Jay Leno, which again was kind of amusing. Just imagine if Tommy had stormed onto the Tonight Show set and thrown a punch while Jay was introducing Hugh Grant. That would have been classic television.
As the Tonight Show debacle indicated, the release of Barb Wire was overshadowed by Pam and Tommy’s court case against Penthouse. The judge ruled that the 1st Amendment gave Penthouse the right to publish still from the tape. Tommy was too stupid to realize that the judge had ruled against him. Pam responded with a monologue about how the judge was actually saying that it was okay to exploit her because she wore a swimsuit on Baywatch and she also previously appeared in Playboy. Pam had a point but, as so often happens on this show, that point was somewhat negated by the fact that the real-life Pamela Anderson never signed off on having her life dramatized in Pam & Tommy and, as a result, the show is itself a bit exploitive.
The show also continues to feel a bit pointless, despite Lily James’s frequently excellent performance as Pam. Again, it’s hard not to wonder why exactly this story demands the limited series treatment as opposed to the 90-minute movie treatment. Indeed, by stretching thing out over 8 hours, Pam & Tommy just reminds us of how superficial this story really is.
One final note: early on in the episode, Butchie is shocked to discover that there’s a new coffee company in Seattle that’s called Starbucks. I’ve noticed this is a joke that’s popped up in a lot of movies about the 90s and it feels rather lazy. They should have made an AOL joke instead.