Monday, September 28, 2015

Pilot Review: The Player

The Player (NBC)
Premiered September 24 at 10pm

Every show needs a hook, something about it that distinguishes it from other shows that might be thought of as similar. NBC’s newest offering deserves credit for a premise as original as it is absurd. Rich moguls placing bets on whether crimes will happen or whether they’ll be stopped by a neutral agent seems too far-fetched to possibly be real, yet that’s exactly what’s behind the plot of this show. Logic goes out the window pretty early in this show’s universe, presuming that the “dealer” and “pit boss” have omniscient influence and the ability to see and control all. Contrast that game mentality with the general goodness of our hero Alex Kane, who is able to perceive so much and always be there to stop the bad guys from winning, except in the case of his ex-wife when she is killed by an armed intruder. Alex himself is actually a relatively appealing character, and a show centered around him alone would probably be strong, especially considering his penchant for jumping through windows, bashing bad guys over the head with expensive bottles of wine, and just generally being a stand-up guy. Watching him, I wished I was watching “Human Target” instead since Alex faintly reminds me of Christopher Chance from the short-lived action series. The guest star list in this pilot was high, topped by Carlo Rota from “24” as the diplomat in harm’s way and Haaz Sleiman as his treacherous head of security. Wesley Snipes is chewing scenery as Alex’s new boss, and I actually like Charity Wakefield as Alex’s new right hind woman Cassandra. Her unexpected connection to Ginny is considerably more of a twist than the expected news that, thanks to Alex’s discovery that Ginny’s finger is missing the tattoo that was always covered by her ring, it seems that Ginny is still alive, driving Alex to take on this job and save some lives in the process of finding her. That should be fun – hardly essential viewing, but possibly not as brainless as it easily could be.

How will it work as a series? The sky’s the limit! The seedy character of the billionaires betting big implies that the degree of danger and potential devastation that Alex will be thrust into on an episodic basis could be anywhere from something seemingly small to a major terrorist attack. The bigger the better since the risk will be high and Alex will have to be even more creative to save the day.
How long will it last? The ratings for episode one weren’t great, though Deadline noted in its report that it may do better when it airs after the season premiere of “The Blacklist” next week. Still, it’s not too inspiring, and reviews haven’t been too terrific either. I wouldn’t expect this one to live past its initial thirteen-episode order if even that far.

Pilot grade: C

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