The Spoils of Babylon premieres at 10 tonight on IFC.
Never heard of Eric Jonrosh? Well, then, you’re missing out on one of the greatest literary minds the 20th century ever produced, a raconteur of prodigious wit that created unforgettable dramas that seared into the psyche and soul of America.
At least that’s what The Spoils of Babylon, the wonderfully absurdist new comedy from IFC, would have you believe. Taking aim squarely at those overwrought, bloated miniseries that were staples of the 1980s (think The Thorn Birds, The Winds of War), the six-part — ahem — saga follows the twisted story of the Morehouse family, led by oil patriarch Jonas (Tim Robbins). His two children, daughter Cynthia (Kristen Wiig) and adopted son Devon (Tobey Maguire), take the family to the absolute heights of power and influence, but their forbidden love for each other sets off a destructive chain of events that could lead to their ruin.
Such a fable could apparently only come from the singular mind of Jonrosh, who bookends each episode with wild tales of the story’s creation and his own debaucherous time in the spotlight. Incidentally, Jonrosh looks a heckuva lot like Will Ferrell covered in a woolly beard and overcoat to hide the character’s outlandish girth.
Other stars in the improbably loaded cast include Haley Joel Osment, the voice of Carey Mulligan, Jessica Alba, Val Kilmer, Michael Sheen and David Spade.
While all the actors look to be having a blast chewing more than their fair share of scenery, Osment brings particular glee to his image-smashing role as the devilish Winston, Cynthia’s son of questionable parentage.
“The main idea is to just let yourself go as over-the-top as you wanted in this ridiculous soap opera,” he says. “As an actor some of the most fun characters you can play are the ones that are pure evil. A character like this, where you’re just a murderous villain, was a lot of fun.”
Yes, this is the same sweet-faced actor audiences fell in love with in The Sixth Sense and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. Now 25, he’s enjoying a career resurgence after having taken time off to attend college and hopefully work through all those problem years when child actors can go wrong.
Being a standout in such a star-studded cast makes for a great reintroduction.