Saturday, August 5, 2017

Pilot Review: The Last Tycoon

The Last Tycoon (Amazon)
Premiered June 17, 2016

I’m not quite sure why I missed this pilot the first time around since I try to pay attention to Amazon’s pilot seasons, but they’re becoming more and more frequent these days so it’s hard to keep track! I was a big fan of Matt Bomer’s during his time on “White Collar,” and I happen to think that “Boss” was one of the strong highlights of Kelsey Grammer’s career, and would have loved to see that dark, immensely intriguing show continue well past the second season it was renewed for before it even started. An Amazon debut is smart for this show, since its period setting is a gamble in many ways, but obviously it had a well-received start a year ago and is now a full-fledged show. There’s plenty here that feels very familiar, but the three main characters are dynamic enough to keep things interesting. Bomer’s Monroe Stahr is quite charismatic, and he’s not going to keep silent as he’s repeatedly told to stop featuring themes that might be deemed offensive to Nazi Germany. Lily Collins, who earned herself a Golden Globe nomination this past year for what I can only imagine was a similar role in “Rules Don’t Apply,” is full of spunk, and seems just as set on being with Monroe as she is on breaking into the business. Grammer’s role is the least exciting, though he’s good at being a curmudgeon. Dominique McElligott, who plays Kathleen, and Jessica De Gouw, who plays Minna, are familiar to me as time period spouses from “Hell on Wheels” and “Underground,” respectively, and are sure to contribute well here, as is the dependable Rosemarie DeWitt. This well-costumed and well-decorated show doesn’t feel entirely invigorating, but I’m curious enough about where it’s headed to give it another shot.

How will it work as a series? There’s obviously a lot going on here, like Pat hiring one desperate worker from the nearby Hooverville and Monroe dealing with the fallout of a suicidal employee whose wife blames him for his death. It could be clunky, but I think there’s enough style and glitz to be found here to make it worthwhile.
How long will it last? Amazon has been heavily promoting this show, which is a good thing since some of its other recent fare – which has still proven successful – hasn’t benefited from the same high-profile ad campaign. The reviews aren’t stellar but they’re not all that bad either. At this point, I’d wager that this show will be back for a second season even if it isn’t likely to continue beyond that.

Pilot grade: B

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