PRESS TOUR: First look at FX's 'American Horror Story'

Wednesday, 03 August 2011 12:12 AM Written by 

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Amer_Horror_Story_logoBEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Last night FX gave TV critics a first look at the fall series "American Horror Story" (a 90-minute premiere airs Oct. 5) from Ryan Murphy, executive producer of "Glee" and "Nip/Tuck."

The series stars Connie Britton ("Friday Night Lights") and Dylan McDermott ("The Practice") as a husband and wife who move with their daughter from the east coast to a Victorian Los Angeles house that has been the sight of multiple past tragedies.

Murphy introduced the screening, saying "Nip/Tuck" was about transformation, "Glee" was about underachievers and "American Horror Story" is the portrait of a marriage amidst infidelity. He also said "AHS" is "the favorite thing I've done."

"I've been in a pretty good marriage for the last five years," Britton said, referring to her on-screen marriage to Kyle Chandler on "Friday Night Lights." "Why not mix it up a little bit?"

Read about reactions to the screening after the jump. ...

The one thing I heard several critics agree on is that they liked the font used in the show's credits and title card (see above). Beyond that, opinions were all over the map.

Several younger critics thought the show was terrible, all sensation and stylistic weirdness for its own sake. Several older critics thought the pilot was sensational.

I found myself somewhere in the middle. The opening is full of suspense and genuine scares. But once the story kicks in it often feels like a series of disparate scenes rather than a cohesive story. (Producers said some new scenes will be added.) And a lot happens in the pilot, maybe too much. No one can accuse the pilot of moving slowly but it's a lot to unpack.

The "American Horror Story" pilot is weird, creepy and bizarre. And yet, I'm curious to figure out if what we're seeing is sometimes the hallucinations of the characters. France Conroy ("Six Feet Under") plays a maid whom McDermott's character sometimes sees as a young woman. Why?

Jessica Lange steals the show as a neighbor, dressed in old-fashioned garb, who swans through the family's home, often with her developmentally disabled daughter in tow. (The Lange character refers to her daughter as a "mongoloid.")

I'm really not sure what to make of "American Horror Story" at this point but the fact that it leaves me wanting to see more, especially in a fall with a lot of TV shows that do not inspire such curiosity, pushes my first impression into more positive territory. But if the show is largely an exercise in trying to discern what's real and what's not, I'm not sure how long I'll tune in.

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