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WINNING TIME: THE RISE OF THE LAKERS DYNASTY S1 E6 “MEMENTO MORI” 😊

PREMISE

Assistant coach Paul Westhead adds to the Lakers’ growing list of problems when he finds himself dealing with a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. Increasingly courted by corporate sponsors, Earvin consults a newfound financial advisor.

EPISODE MVP

JASON SEGEL– One thing I’ve come to appreciate about Segel over the course of many things that he’s done, is his gift of awkwardness. He is a man whose specialty is to do the weird thing on screen so that the camera could cut to some other actors face which more often than not would be something like…

His gift of awkwardness was the thing that made him quite possibly the second best part about HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER. His gift of awkwardness is kind of the key ingredient of what makes FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL a good film, and has been put to very good use in shows like UNDECLARED and FREAKS AND GEEKS, movies like KNOCKED UP and BAD TEACHER. Even in his dramatic work such as his performances David Foster Wallace in the movie THE END OF THE TOUR back in 2015.. it is also put to use in a very unique way. There’s a wonderful moment in which he’s quoting Shakespeare in a press conference and the awkward horror on Jerry West’s face is a testament to the true gift of Jason Segel’s comedic timing.

Siegel is giving a lot to do in this episode, and he’s the one actor who has to run the full gamut of emotions. Seeing his best friend post bicycle accident, damn near having a panic attack before his first ever coached game, or…. In my favorite moment of the whole episode, emphatically and authoritatively telling Spencer Hayward that he’s going to be on the bench and that Michael Cooper is going to start in his place. Segel does do a fine job in maintaining all he has to do here.

EPPS PLAYING RICHARD PRYOR…YET AGAIN– Back in the day, director Lee Daniels was supposed to helm a Richard Pryor biopic called “WAS IT SOMETHING I SAID?” The film was backed by the Weinstein Brothers.. and of course was promptly canceled because of Harvey Weinstein’s criminalistic behavior. For those who are familiar with Mike Epps stand up comedy, the concept of him playing THE stand-up comedian of stand-up comedians, wasn’t met with backlash as much as it was deemed unimaginable for him to do so given how much dramatic fare telling a story about Richard Pryor would require.

He’s played Richard Pryor in the controversial biopic about Nina Simone called NINA back in 2017. I was pretty convinced he could play Richard Pryor then and there. But nobody saw that movie. I’m so happy that we get to see him playing the completely debaucherous, and profane version of Pryor in this show. I’m not saying I can’t picture anybody else playing Richard Pryor. But based off of what I’ve seen in both NINA and this show, Mike Epps HAS TO BE THE FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY HIM. He’s great and naturalistic.

LINE OF THE WEEK

“In may, we’re going to win the championship. Then, I’m going to need a couple of weeks vacation before I take a flight to Sacramento, walk into your office, and MAKE you beg to keep our business”

-Jerry Buss to the head honcho of the Great Western Bank after deliberately being challenged on his business acumen.

THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE

CINDY DAY & HER POPS– For those unfamiliar with the terminology of basketball, I would like to explain to you what a ball stopper is.

You kind of saw it in episode 5 when Jack McKinney told Kareem to go with the flow of the offense, to keep the rhythm moving so that the game can progress in the right way. A ball stopper is someone, (or in this case the storyline of everything involving Magic Johnson’s social life) that completely derails the momentum of literally EVERYTHING else going on. Everything involving Magic Johnson social life is fast forward worthy. It is no longer interesting, it is absolutely predictable, and it is painfully repetitive.

If the character of Cindy Day is indeed a real life person, then she’s undoubtedly gotten the worst end of what is constantly been referred to as “fictitious” versions of actual people. Literally everything involving the Cindy Day character in this episode is so cringe-worthy. She is so desperate, so unlikable, so blatant in her nefarious intent on trapping the NBA rookie that it comes off as almost cartoonish and waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay beneath the writing on this show. Writing that has proven to be absolutely great at a lot of times. Hell, it’s great at most points during this very same episode!

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Ultimately this episode was mostly just fine. But everything involving the love life of Magic Johnson derails all momentum instantaneously and it’s hard to just ignore that when it takes up a third of the episode.  There are so many more interesting characters to give a damn about including Spencer Hayward Michael Cooper and Jessie Buss. I understand this is going to go multiple seasons in that we are going to get to these people eventually in detail.

But in the meantime I have to ask myself if the terrible one third of this episode bad enough to drown out the nearly okay 2/3 of the episode and ultimately that answer is no. My advice would be to watch this episode and every time you see Magic Johnson’s face outside of his conversation with Richard Pryor… just fast forward. You will be missing absolutely nothing.

WINNING TIME: THE RISE OF THE LAKERS DYNASTY is playing on HBO MAX now. 

Eli Brumfield

Eli Brumfield in an actor/screenwriter from Seattle Washington, living in Los Angeles.

He is the host of the RV8 Podcast.

He hates the word cinefile, but considering how many films he consumes in a week...and how many films he goes out of his way to see, no matter the genre...he kinda seems to be one.

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