Friday, February 21, 2014

Pilot Review: The Rebels

The Rebels
Streaming on Amazon

I didn’t watch any of Amazon’s first batch of original offerings when they were released last April, but some Presidents’ Day weekend boredom and curiosity prompted me to check out all five of the newest bunch. For those unfamiliar, Amazon chose five shows and made pilots for each of them, and will determine which to proceed with based on user feedback. The first of these shows that I watched was “The Rebels,” the story of a widow who finds herself charged with the ownership of a football team after the sudden death of her husband. It is immediately revealed that Julie has no clue what she is doing, referring to the uniforms as “costumes” and hiring her husband’s personal assistant to be the general manager. It’s a premise designed to be so ridiculous it might just work. The sight of a monkey with cocaine all over its face and a gun in its hand at a party is meant to imply that these football players are so terrible that their personal lives are just as messy as their professional ones, and Julie’s determined claim that they will win a championship seems unlikely at best. The real reason that I watched this is because I firmly believe that its star, Natalie Zea, is one of the most dependable actresses on television. I first loved her in “Dirty Sexy Money” as a troublemaking heiress, and have enjoyed her turns on “Hung,” “Californication,” and “Justified” most since. It’s great to give her a bona fide lead role, but I’m not sure this is the one that I’d want to define her.
How would it work as a series? After this outlandish start, there’s only one direction to go, and that’s up. Ironing the kinks out in both Julie’s family life and with the team might be entertaining, but this is relatively uncreative and unenlightened comedy which shouldn’t prove all that enthralling.
Will it make it to a series? Even without knowing how many shows Amazon plans to commission this time around, I suspect that this series won’t be one of them. Its TV-MA rating doesn’t quite feel right since there’s nothing truly edgy or memorable about its content, and it feels especially average.

Pilot grade: C-

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