Sunday, January 27, 2019

Pilot Review: Black Monday

Black Monday (Showtime)
Premiered January 20 at 10pm

There are shows with outrageous characters, and then there are outrageous shows. This one certainly fits both bills, alleging that it depicts the events that led to the 1987 stock market crash, but as directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the creative minds behind “Superbad.” Now, I love that movie, but it’s fair to expect a considerable amount of exaggeration here. Don Cheadle successfully anchored a Showtime series that I really enjoyed at the beginning for five seasons, portraying a morally bankrupt management consultant who specialized in taking advantage of his clients to make as much money as possible. It’s no surprise that the charismatic actor would be chosen to play the protagonist here, Maurice “Mo” Monroe, the head of an investment firm who is so eager to indulge in whatever he feels like that he has a framed photo of himself doing cocaine on his wall. Cheadle isn’t the only smart acting choice here, with Regina Hall, who I just saw in her much-lauded turn in “Support the Girls,” portraying the one employee who doesn’t do whatever he tells her. Tony winner Andrew Rannells, who starred in “Girls,” gets to play the polar opposite of both of them, a wunderkind who only managed to bolster up enough courage to confront Mo after his girlfriend, playing by Casey Wilson, essentially beat him into submission. I was also happy to see Ken Marino of “Party Down” fame as the twin brothers who thought that they were able to screw Mo over, if not for the very calculated plan he concocted to get Rannells’ Blair exactly where he wanted him. That final scene did make this extremely over-the-top show more appealing, and I’d be willing to give it a second try even if I’m not sure I’ll love it.

How will it work as a series? We saw someone with a green tie pin land on Mo’s absurd red “limbo” at the start of the episode, which we’re supposed to think is either Blair or Mo based on their conversations. Charting the year that it takes to get to that point should prove interesting, though I hope that we’re not treated to regular hints of what happens in the future but rather just the ridiculous plot playing out in an unpredictable narrative fashion.
How long will it last? This pilot was released online early, and I haven’t been able to find any ratings data for its actual television airing. The reviews aren’t great, and Showtime is likely banking on Cheadle to be able to carry another show for them. I suspect that this one may be one of their one-season outings, but it’s still possible the network could opt to pick it up for more.


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