Not Winning

I had high hopes for HBO’s new series, Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty. Based on the book by Jeff Pearlman (who’d crushed it with The Bad Guys Won), I was hoping it would be another Once Upon a Time in Queens. It was not. It was more like someone had watched that special, then tried to make the Saturday Night Live version of it. Actually no, more like the Saturday Night Live version of the Saturday Night Live version of it.

Seriously, are these jokers trying to make a terrible show?

First, I’m not sure exactly sure whether I’m watching a comedy, a drama, or something in between. I think it’s supposed to be funny, but every single joke is just low-hanging fruit. Cheap and easy. A sarcastic “clever” was what I uttered more than actual laughter.

Generally I like John C. Reilly as an actor, but his caricature of Jerry Buss here is just ridiculous. I’m usually pleased when A-list actors appear in something like this and don’t try too hard (that is, not trying to win an Oscar), but you’ve got to put forth something I think. The person I feel bad for is Quincy Isaiah, who plays a young Magic Johnson. He’s not A-list yet, and his is one of the few performances worth seeing, though it’s going to be sullied by what is overall an awful product.

The show works best as a period piece. Much of last night’s episode takes place in 1979, and HBO spared nothing on costumes and set design. The music is cool too, and that’s about the only thing that makes the show worth watching.

Directed by Adam McKay, he of AnchormanTalladega Nights, The Other Guys, etc., one wonders why the McKay magic (pun intended) isn’t there. This guy has shown he can make something funny out of something stupid. And where’s his frequent collaborator, Will Ferrell? Did Ferrell realize how dumb this show was going to be and pass? Or was the offer really not made? Apparently there’s some high school-type drama between those two now. One hopes they can rebound. (Okay, I’ll stop with the basketball metaphors now.)

And hopefully McKay’s parade of guest stars can lend an assist next week.

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About moc

My name is Mike O'Connell. I am 39 years old and live in Northern Virginia. I am a teacher, a musician, and an enthusiast of all things American.

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