Thursday, September 14, 2017

Pilot Review: The Deuce

The Deuce (HBO)
Premiered September 10 at 9pm

As you can probably tell if you’re even an occasional reader of this blog, I like to go into shows without knowing anything if I can. In some cases, that’s a detriment since I don’t know what’s supposed to be going on. In the opening half hour of this extended episode, I looked back to see what other HBO shows had been set in the recent past, and concluded that it doesn’t usually work out for the likes of “Vinyl” or other similar shows on other networks like “Good Girls Revolt” and “Magic City,” with the major exception being of course “Mad Men.” What I missed completely and had to discover online afterwards is that this show is meant to focus on the rise of the porn industry in New York City. While there were a handful of mob-related activities and plenty of prostitutes in this opening hour and a half, there wasn’t any mention of pornography, which I count as a demerit since I wouldn’t have had any interest in coming back at all based on this sampling. Most of the characters feel overly familiar and unoriginal, save for Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Candy, who did one hell of a job defending what she had to do in her job. I don’t know how much more we’ll see of Zoe Kazan as Vincent’s (ex?) wife Andrea, who was the other standout here. Like many HBO pilots, this felt very crowded and not very clear, and the way it ended didn’t make me want to revisit it at all.

How will it work as a series? I’d sort of like to know. Not really, but the premise does sound more appealing than whatever this was, which didn’t feel very focused or aware of where it wants to go. I’d be willing to give it another shot just to see if it’s all expository or if it actually takes these characters on an interesting collision course.
How long will it last? The reviews seem to be more positive that what I’ve written above, and therefore I’d put this squarely in the win column for the network, which also values creator David Simon’s creative vision. I don’t think ratings will need to factor in all that much since this one is likely to benefit from a renewal very soon.

Pilot grade: C+