March 4, 2017

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “The Arrangement”


THE ARRANGEMENT:  Sunday 10PM on E! – If Nothing Else Is On…

E! stays on-brand with its second scripted series THE ARRANGEMENT, which plays off the rumors that surrounded Tom Cruise’s marriage to Katie Holmes.  It’s got celebrity and the heat of a scandal roman a clef, but it completely lacks the saucy, junky flair of the network’s guilty pleasure The Royals.  The pilot, at least, is even a little bit dull.

Much of this is because series creator Jonathan Abrahams (a writer/producer on TNT’s defunct Murder In the First) wants to have his gossip cake and eat it too, loading up as much on gauzy romance as on sinister potential.  While The Royals revels in cynicism (and sometimes manages to find some genuine-ish heartbreak between the quips), The Arrangement is all too doe-eyed.  So while our Tom stand-in Kyle West (Josh Henderson of the rebooted Dallas) offers our Katie, here named Megan Morrison (Christine Evangelista), a $10M fee for becoming his bride, she really does have feelings for him, and he appears to genuinely care about her too.  (Even E! won’t touch some of the Cruise rumors, and the pilot has a careful line of dialogue for Kyle to deny that he has any need of a “beard.”)  The only overlay of genteel menace comes from Terrence Anderson (Michael Vartan), head of the show’s Scientology substitute, dubbed The Institute Of The Higher Mind.

Kyle and Megan are an awfully bland pair.  Evangelista has the excuse that Megan is meant to be naive and overwhelmed by the new world she finds herself in, and she at least supplies some likable spunk.  Henderson, though, doesn’t display any of the undercurrents that have made Cruise fascinating both as an actor (well, until recently) and public figure over three decades.  Abrahams’s script gives no sense of what would have attracted Kyle to the Institute, and although all that may come later, it gives his drama a shaky foundation.

It certainly doesn’t help that the dialogue is tinny, that the supporting characters like Megan’s fast-talking agent (Autumn Reeser) are mostly cliches, or that Ken Olin’s glossy direction can’t hide the fact that this very LA story is mostly shot in Canada.  In a show like The Arrangement, though, much of that could be excused if the result were juicily compelling, and that’s something the opening hour doesn’t deliver.  In the incredibly crowded field of Sunday scripted drama, The Arrangement doesn’t offer much of a quid pro quo for the attention of viewers.  It looks like a bad deal.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."