Sunday, July 30, 2017

Pilot Review: Ozark

Ozark (Netflix)
Premiered July 21

Jason Bateman is an established straight man in comedy. He’s probably best known for his work on “Arrested Development,” and he’s appeared in a handful of notable films like “Horrible Bosses” and played a similar part. I never saw “The Gift,” which came out a few years ago, but I did notice a distinctly dark turn with the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival entry “The Family Fang,” which started off from a comedic place but had a foreboding feel for the entirety of its runtime. I saw billboards for this show all around Los Angeles and didn’t know if it was a movie or a series, and, despite the severe expressions on both Bateman’s face and Linney’s, I didn’t expect something quite so dreary. To me, this show doesn’t have much to recommend itself in the way of originality. Shows about the mob are immensely commonplace, and what makes this show stand apart is that Bateman’s Marty is not an even remotely likeable character, his wife Wendy was ready to take their money and divorce him when they tried to run, and now they’re in the middle of nowhere with a tall order to clean millions of dollars in just a few days to prove their undying loyalty to a cartel kingpin who tells way too many stories about his father. It’s strange to see Bateman in this kind of role because he too often sounds sarcastic, and I much preferred Linney in her last regular TV role on “The Big C.” I don’t see a particular hook to this one, and there’s just nothing remotely inviting about it.

How will it work as a series? They made it to the Ozarks pretty quickly, and now it’s a matter of finding local talent who can help with the cleaning operation. With the law well aware of Marty’s identity and Del’s role in the business, it can’t be long before Marty gets himself into even more trouble and has everyone around him executed for the second time. That doesn’t seem too promising.
How long will it last? It seems like the reviews are pretty good – more favorable than fine, at least. The question is whether this one will stand out from the pack and feel like a true original for Netflix. I think its stars are big gets and that might propel it to a second season, but I wouldn’t count on that at this point.

Pilot grade: C

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