Can Miley Cyrus help revive Woody Allen's career?

Might the small screen and Miley Cyrus improve Woody Allen's recent form?

Video by Jamie Dunn | 15 Sep 2016

Woody Allen has been on a run of horrible form for the last two decades. Might a move to the small screen bring back the 80-year-old's comic magic? That’s the question we’re asking ourselves ahead of Crisis in Six Scenes, Allen’s upcoming six-part Amazon series.

The signals we’ve been getting from Allen haven’t been good. First, the famous luddite (he doesn’t own a computer) claims he hasn’t even heard of TV streaming. “I never knew what Amazon was,” Allen told Deadline last year.

“I’ve never seen any of those series, even on cable. I’ve never seen The Sopranos, or Mad Men. I’m out every night and when I come home, I watch the end of the baseball or basketball game, and there’s Charlie Rose and I go to sleep. Amazon kept coming to me and saying, please do this, whatever you want. I kept saying I have no ideas for it, that I never watch television.”

Amazon, however, were like a dog with a bone: they eventually made Allen an offer he couldn't refuse. And he’s regretted it ever since. “It’s been so hard for me. I had the cocky confidence, well, I’ll do it like I do a movie… it’ll be a movie in six parts. Turns out, it’s not. For me, it has been very, very difficult. I’ve been struggling and struggling and struggling. I only hope that when I finally do it – I have until the end of 2016 – they’re not crushed with disappointment because they’re nice people and I don’t want to disappoint them. I am doing my best.”

Will Crisis in Six Scenes be the “cosmic embarrassment” Allen claims? We’re not so sure. After all, the writer-director is famously a poor judge of his own work. He considers gems like Hannah and Her Sisters and Annie Hall to be among his biggest disappointments while he holds London-set stinker Match Point up as his great masterpiece. Could he be off base with Crisis in Six Scenes too?

After seeing the trailer land online today (watch it in the player above), we think so. In its two minute run time we count more laughs than we found in recent Allen disasters like Café Society, Magic in the Moonlight and To Rome with Love combined. Set in the late 60s, it stars Allen as a television writer and the great Elaine May as his psychiatrist wife. This conservative couple have their life turned upside down, however, with the arrival of a counterculture hippie in their home, played by Miley Cyrus. Sparks inevitably fly: "I don't dislike you,” Cyrus's character tells Allen’s. “Just everything that you stand for."

The presence of the former Hannah Montana star in the cast might seem an odd fit at first, but it's consistent with Allen's recent trend of flavour-of-the-month casting, with Kristen Stewart his current muse. But, as Stewart showed by being the best thing about Café Society, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. One thing we’re relieved about is that there's no April-to-December romance in the new show, but there are plenty of other classic Allen tropes on display.

The trailer gives the impression this is a series about change. Near the beginning of the trailer, Allen’s characters shoots down his wife's suggestion that they join some kids who are protesting against Vietnam ("Forget it! I’m allergic to tear gas”) and by the end, he’s inviting Black Panthers over to the house, much to the delight of May’s character's book-club friends.

Might this TV show also see Allen change his ways as a filmmaker and deliver something with the kind of passion and invention he hasn't shown since the mid-90s? Find out when Crisis In Six Scenes debuts on Amazon from 30 September