Judging from the reviews of ''Basic Instinct 2'' and the numbers recorded for it at www.boxofficemojo.com, this is not going to be a good weekend on the big screen for Sharon Stone. Too bad. The woman can act, and she is on view to far better effect on ''Huff,'' the drama beginning its second season on Showtime at 10 tonight.
I've gotten through six hours of ''Huff's'' second season and am hoping I can find a way to watch the other seven hours soon. Starring Hank Azaria in the title role as a therapist surrounded by people who need more help than he can provide, ''Huff'' is a very good show and a real showcast for actors. Not only regulars like Oliver Platt and Blythe Danner (both doing some of their best work), but guest stars, who this season include Stone (as a client of Russell, the lawyer played by Platt), Swoosie Kurtz (again playing Huff's mother-in-law), Anjelica Huston (as another therapist) and Tom Skerritt (as Huff's father, a role played by Robert Forster in the first season).
It's a series that tackles death, faith, madness, addiction and marriage through well-drawn characters, and does so while rarely feeling overdone or phony. The stuff about marriage -- specifically Huff's -- is especially strong. Yes, it can feel talky at times. Most of the people on this show talk a ton, even when they don't know what they're talking about. But you have to keep listening, because the light breaks through.
Huff, therefore, seems most annoying because he is also the most bottled-up character. But the stretch of the second season I have seen is forcing Huff to admit his own constipation -- as another character sums it up. He has to do more than talk; he has to fuel that talk with emotion.
Still, besides the overall richness of the show, watch Stone at work. Even though she has done some stinkers in her career, there are times when she reminds people that she's more than just a movie star; ''Casino'' is on the list, and ''The Muse,'' and ''Huff.''
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