Even before it premiered on HBO, Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakes Dynasty was amidst in controversy as the end of the working collaboration and friendship of show producer Adam McKay and Will Ferrell. The word around Tinseltown was that Ferrell wanted to play the lead role of Dr. Jerry Buss, who became the majority owner of the Los Angeles Lakers. But instead, John C. Reilly who is often a friend and collaborator of both Ferrell and McKay got the role.
Ferrell has needed a hit for some time now. But sometimes, there is a nice end result in not getting what you want. That’s because this show is a complete disaster. Yes, I know it’s gotten a lot of rave reviews, but I think the problem that affected McKay’s Don’t Look Up has affected this. People see a series on HBO and feel it can’t do no wrong. They see McKay and some other actors like Reilly and veteran actress Sally Fields and they think, it’s good.
It’s anything but. There are four episodes that have aired so far. I checked it out and there’s 10 episodes scheduled altogether, but so far, it’s been much ado about nothing, which is odd because this series has so many people and characters, it gets tedious. I’ve been looking at this as more of a parody of these types of series and biopics, like Reilly’s Walk Hard, but yet, I’m still not finding it as good.
Maybe HBO was trying to do a show in the vein of the 1980s series 1st & Ten, which is most notable for the use of nudity, sexual content, and foul language. The show about the fictional California Bulls football team could have been considered a dramedy as some episodes dealt with more serious problems. That show starred O.J. Simpson and other actors such as Jason Beghe and Christopher Meloni when they were younger.
So, far the series seems to focus on Buss and a young Earvin “Magic” Johnson (Quincy Isaiah), but they can’t seem to realize if we should like or hate them. Both of them appear to be willing to have sex with anything that has a pulse at a moment’s notice. The series focuses on Johnson’s first season as only he was a student at Michigan State University and drafted. Normally, you get the same stereotypical reaction from his family in Lansing, Mich. His mother comes off as the stereotypical religious black mother who doesn’t even like people referring to him as “Magic” because that’s the devil’s word. And his father pulls the same “I worked hard for you to have more” schtick that was done in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.
So, Johnson isn’t immediately liked by the players, including Norm Nixon (played by his own son, DeVaughn) who mocks Johnson by talking down to him and calling him “country.” And then there’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Solomon Hughes) who portrays him as very stuck up and even hazes the rookie players. This has been done to death so much in so many of these movies and shows that I cringed watching the first episode where Kareem tells the young actor who was in Airplane! with him to “fuck off” when he asks for an autograph.
Basically, everyone in this show is portrayed as a jerk. Jerry West (Jason Clarke) drops the F-bomb and has a fit at the slightest thing that it gets old by the end of the first episode. Gabby Hoffman plays Claire Rothman, who worked in the top position in management as a cold-hearted bitch who screams profanity and berates younger people. Adrien Brody pops up at Patrick Riley sporting a pornstauche that seems as fake as something you would find in a porno.
And the whole series as that hazy scratched film look of movies and shows in the late 1970s, but it really has no substance. Yes, it was the 1970s, everyone did cocaine, had sex and partied hard. There’s several other TV shows and movies that have already done this and did it better.
Another issue I have with the series is that every character is too busy breaking the fourth wall, either looking at the camera when something is said. Or they will turn to the camera and mention something. If there was just one person doing this, it wouldn’t seem as bad. But when people keep doing it, it gets redundant.
The rest of the season might improve, but so far, they haven’t even played one game of the season as they’re struggling through finding a head coach as West has retired and they’re trying to get a replacement with Jack McKinney (Tracy Letts) who isn’t liked by the players. Games are won in the fourth quarter and this series may come from behind to get better, but so far, I think many people would be bored by the same old same old.
What do you think? Please comment.