As Buss courts new talent, a former Laker ponders a future with the franchise, and Earvin’s move to Los Angeles isn’t quite as magical as he hoped.
ADRIEN BRODY- There are, in fact, many, many, different iconic things about the 1980 Showtime Lakers. Not just the no-look passes, the fast breaks, and memorable Celtics games. But also the million-dollar smile of Magic Johnson, the taped-up glasses of Kurt Rambis, the skyhook from Kareem, etc., etc., etc. However, one thing as iconic as any of those things was their coach. An Armani suit-wearing, mousse-haired basketball genius known as Pat Riley. Pat Riley is so synonymous with the brand of the Los Angeles Lakers to this day that not giving an accurate depiction of Riley would have been an unnoticeable blemish on this show no matter how well it was going otherwise.
Adrien Brody marvels playing the near-rock bottom Pat Riley. More so even than Jerry West, Riley has really lost his place post-retirement, and the show manages to show a different side of the post-retirement wilderness than what Jerry West had been going through the first two episodes. Brody makes his performance a lot more lovable than Clarke’s, and given the legend that Riley will become, I’m looking forward to how Brody will portray that as this show goes on.
FIVE MINUTES LATER- I absolutely love it when an episode of a TV show ends on a cliffhanger, and then the very next episode begins right after that cliffhanger occurs. It usually happens with season finales going into season premieres, and you have a lot of time to speculate what’s going to happen between the airing of the two episodes (Like this last season of OZARK, for example).
But, here we begin FIVE MINUTES after the resignation of Jerry West in the last scene of the previous episode. It’s a fantastic scene between West and Jerry Buss, where West flat out confirms what the previous episode was telling us throughout: West falls on the sword because he can’t get out of his way. John C. Reilly and Jason Clarke are the heart of this show and have not failed to impress, especially here in this scene.
THE CHICK HEARN PORTRAYAL- It’s not that I really liked what they did with Chick Hearn in this episode, as much as it is that I respect what they do with heralded figures such as this. He’s such a revered figure in LA that outside of the arena formerly known as Staples Center (I refuse to call it the atrocious name it is referred to right now), there is a statue in front of the arena dedicated to him. A statue that you, the fan, can sit next to and act as if you’re part of the broadcast team. There’s a street named after him right next to the stadium.
Not that I couldn’t see it before, but I do understand why the Lakers organization have distanced themselves far away from this show. But I’m glad they’ve opened the idea that not all of these heralded figures are the angelic figures we usually see them portrayed as.
LINE OF THE WEEK
“Man, they should give that Afro an Oscar.”
–Offscreen member of the Lakers teasing Norm Nixon after he hyped himself up for having a role in a movie…only to have just the back of his head show up on the screen.
THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE
EVERYTHING MAGIC JOHNSON- This is not a complaint about Quincy Isaiah, or his performance so far. He’s doing great. The problem is that we are three episodes into this show, and we are continually hitting the same beats when it comes to the portrayal of Magic Johnson.
Three episodes in, and he is STILL getting used to the city’s culture. He STILL doesn’t necessarily have a close rapport one-on-one with Jerry Buss. He STILL unsure of his starting position on the roster. He STILL has people back in Lansing telling him not to lose himself in the culture of LA. He STILL has at least one scene with Cookie that almost completely derails the show’s momentum, and the audience is left with yet another montage showing that he is STILL engaging in licentious activities. I understand that following Magic Johnson is essential to telling the story of this period of the team. Still, at this point, I’m starting to doubt if there’s anything left to cover involving Johnson if the Boston Celtics are not directly involved with the storyline. There are other people to cover on this team that are essential to telling the story.
WHERE THE F*** IS KAREEM?!- Sure, there are multiple allusions to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s importance in terms of what actually happens on the court and how is the focal point of the offense. However, at this point in time, he is a legendary superstar starting to decline. He had become an innovator in physical fitness and started taking yoga to help his longevity long before it was cool. And that’s not even tipping the iceberg when it comes to the things involving social justice that he was regularly involved in.
There are so many things to cover with this man that are simply being ignored at this point, and it’s pretty annoying when I’m watching the THIRD OR FOURTH montage of Magic Johnson having sex with groupies. Solomon Hughes as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is plastered on posters throughout the downtown section of Los Angeles. They would like you to believe he is a real character on the show…
THE JERRY TARKANIAN SAGA- Jerry Tarkanian was a hell of a basketball coach. And the Lakers’ pursuit of him is something that you do HAVE to tell when telling the story of this franchise. The only problem with this aspect of team history is that Jack Kent Cooke was VERY involved in working out the details that would send Tarkanian to the Lakers.
That this episode portrays him to be a COMPLETE non-factor to anything involving the organizational dealings of the team makes this entire subplot the biggest victim of the “modified for storytelling purposes” angle of this entire show. And on top of all that it’s not a very entertaining subplot to watch anyway.
Ultimately as a Laker fan, this is a very intriguing television episode. All the episodes have been exactly that when appealing to my Laker-loving side. But I can’t help but notice the entertainment value in the previous episodes that this one did not have.
Sometimes, an episode being intriguing is not enough to give it a positive review when there are so many things that don’t hit right. The sheer amount of things that I did not like compared to the stuff that I did like is imbalanced.
This is WINNING TIME’s weakest episode of this show so far.