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The Pacific Rim: The Black Season Two Trailer is here!

In the epic series conclusion of Pacific Rim: The Black (S2), the journey is far from over. Our brave siblings Taylor and Hayley still hope to reach the safety of Sydney aboard Atlas Destroyer, the scaled-down training Jaeger left behind when Australia was evacuated. With teenage assassin Mei and the mysterious human/kaiju hybrid bOy joining Taylor and Hayley, this makeshift family must cross a dangerous territory controlled by the bloodthirsty cult Sisters of the Kaiju. These zealots, led by the enigmatic High Priestess, are convinced that bOy is their long-awaited Messiah and will stop at nothing to indoctrinate him into their dark circle – something Hayley would sacrifice everything to prevent.

Pacific Rim: The Black season 2 arrives on April 19!

TV Review: Winning Time S1E4 “Who the F**k is Jack McKinney?”

Who the F**k is Jack McKinney?

Showtime’s growing pains continue in Winning Time Season 1, Episode 4 “Who the F**k is Jack McKinney?”. Training camp is about to start after last week’s murder of Vic Weiss, Jerry Tarkanian has decided to not take the Lakers job with Weiss’ wife smacking Jerry Buss (John C. Reilly) at his funeral. So, per Jerry West’s (Jason Clarke) recommendation, Buss and the Lakers decide to go with Jack McKinney (Tracy Letts), who might have the stage presence of an accountant, but has ideas that would go on to revolutionize the game of basketball. But, for now, they’re just scrawlings on resort napkins and clipboards, or slides loaded by his assistant coach Paul Westhead (Jason Segel), a floppy-haired former English professor that is really a non-presence in this episode. Like he just mumbles and quotes Shakespeare and immediately fits in with this quite kooky set of characters

Along with the growing pains on the court, there is still the financial issues with team, and Buss’ accountant/mom Jessie Buss (Sally Field) finds a way out by saddling some of the liabilities with his ex-wife JoAnn Mueller (Kate Arrington). From an awkward opening scene where she and their children have lunch at the same Mexican restaurant as Buss and one of his girlfriends (And Jeanie Buss sees him fingering the woman at the table.) to walking in on him and another woman with the liability paper work, Arrington plays the part with scene-stealing contempt shattering the fantasy that Buss wants everyone to see about him. Writers Jim Hecht, Max Borenstein, and Rodney Barnes follow the thread of Jerry Buss’ true desires through the perspective of Jeanie Buss (Hadley Robinson), who gets real depth in this episode walking the line between an intern and boss’ daughter.

From being quiet and meek in the first couple episodes, she speaks up in a meeting and even builds a connection with two of her co-workers over a shared bong. This episode shows how much Jeanie cares about her dad and the Lakers and also how she’s unhappy that he would rather hang out with random women than spend time and communicate with her going all the way back to the opening flashback. However, she does have some real vision in regards to setting apart the Lakers from a college basketball experience, and Claire Rothman (Gaby Hoffmann) packages her ideas in something that will sell to Jerry Buss. But it’s all just theory for now. There are no Laker girls or Jack Nicholson and Dyan Cannon sitting courtside just yet.

Who the F**k is Jack McKinney?

This theme of theory versus practice definitely is the driving engine of Hecht, Borenstein, and Barnes’ training camp A-plot although there’s all kinds of squabbles and subplots going on from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Solomon Hughes) hazing Magic Johnson (Quincy Isaiah), Michael Cooper (Delante Desouza) battling to get a guaranteed contract, and Jerry West not wanting to walk away from the team. Director Damian Marcano excels at shooting the basketball action at its best (Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, and Norm Nixon showing glimpses of real chemistry) and worst (Veteran Ron Boone getting hit by one of Magic Johnson’s no-look passes) while going the montage and voiceover narration route for McKinney’s ideas. With references to Buddhism that reminded me of a future Lakers coach, Tracy Letts nails Jack McKinney’s passion for basketball as well as the heartbreak and compromise he feels when West tells him that he needs to combine his system with some of his old sets. The practices and a verbal sniping show that doing things a new way is painful even as Magic Johnson and Nixon start to buy into system the system while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar simply doesn’t give a fuck. He doesn’t say a lot of words, but Hughes’ physical presence and taciturn looks show that he knows he’s the undisputed leader of the team and won’t be running suicides or “McKinney miles” with the rest of the Lakers.

I do have to applaud Marcano, Jim Hecht, Max Borenstein, and Rodney Barnes for showing viewers the building blocks of Showtime and fast break basketball with montages and film sessions showing how it sharply contrasts with the stagnant half court sets most NBA teams were running at the time. No wonder the league was struggling. There’s also a kind of cheeky animated sequence featuring Magic Johnson that connects his philosophy of basketball to McKinney’s with a focus on making his teammates and basically being good, giving, and game as the basketball court dissolves into Johnson giving oral sex. However, this whole being everyone’s friend is a little bit of facade as Cookie Kelly (Tamera Tomakili) reminds him that Magic Johnson basically stole her from one of his teammates. Their phone conversation doesn’t end well, and Isaiah shows a little bit of the darker, sadder side of Johnson, both on and off the court with Boone fighting him because he’s frustrated at his playing style and also that he has a guaranteed contract even though he hasn’t played a minute of professional basketball.

“Who the F**ck Is Jack McKinney” is set in a bikini-clad women-filled oasis in a harsh desert, and no one shot understands the facade that is Jerry Buss’ life and ownership of the Lakers than him mouthing “Fuck” under the pool when he realizes that the Lakers and Forum have no chance of turning a profit this year so he can pay off his creditors. Being together in an enclosed space (Even though McKinney closes practice to the ownership and front office) brings out temper and negative feelings with the Lakers continuing to have a long way to go both on and off the court. However, it’s not all downbeat as Hecht, Borenstein, and Barnes position Jack McKinney as one of the true, unsung heroes of the game even if the players hate him for now. Plus there’s strong characterization for Jeanie Buss as Winning Time leans into its greatest strength and weakness: it has a huge cast so it’s hard to get to know all the players, but most of them are fascinating and opportunities for strong, nuanced performances.

Overall Verdict: 8.1

Pacific Rim: The Black Season Two arrives in April

Netflix and Legendary Television have announced the Pacific Rim: The Black returns on April 19 for its second and final season.

In the epic series conclusion of Pacific Rim: The Black (S2), the journey is far from over. Our brave siblings Taylor and Hayley still hope to reach the safety of Sydney aboard Atlas Destroyer, the scaled-down training Jaeger left behind when Australia was evacuated. With teenage assassin Mei and the mysterious human/kaiju hybrid bOy joining Taylor and Hayley, this makeshift family must cross a dangerous territory controlled by the bloodthirsty cult Sisters of the Kaiju. These zealots, led by the enigmatic High Priestess, are convinced that bOy is their long-awaited Messiah and will stop at nothing to indoctrinate him into their dark circle – something Hayley would sacrifice everything to prevent.

Sam Davies and BOOM! Studios’ HexVet Gets animated at Nickelodeon


Nickelodeon is bringing the magical world of Willows Whisper to life with the greenlight of HexVet, a brand-new animated preschool series based on the eponymous BOOM! Studios graphic novels by Sam Davies. The CG and 2D-hybrid adventure-comedy series (20 episodes) follows unlikely best friends Nan and Clarion as they navigate life’s weird and wacky challenges, while apprenticing to be magical veterinarians for fantastical creatures. Paramount Consumer Products will lead consumer products cross-category licensing worldwide for the HexVet property. HexVet will launch 2023 in the U.S. and continue to roll out internationally.

As HexVets in training, Nan and Clarion are ready to tackle medical maladies in beasts magical or mundane, find their familiars, and earn their wands and pointy hats–all while dodging covens of animal smugglers and dragons with heartburn. Under the tutelage of the talented Dr. Talon, these young HexVets in training will learn how to cure any animal, from a pygmy phoenix with bird flu to a unicorn with a broken horn. 

HexVet is an all-ages original graphic novels series written by beloved cartoonist Sam Davies and published by BOOM! Studios through their award-winning KaBOOM! imprint, home to R.L. Stine’s Just Beyond and more. The graphic novel series debuted in 2018 with HexVet: Witches-in-Training to much critical acclaim, then released the second book, HexVet: The Flying Surgery, in 2019. HexVet was a Scholastic Book Fair selection in 2019, and has since sold over 60,000 copies and is distributed internationally in over 132 countries. BOOM! Studios is slated to release additional volumes in the series.

HexVet is developed for television by Nicole Dubuc (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, The Rocketeer), who also serves as showrunner and executive producer. Frank Molieri (Transformers: Rescue Bots, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie) serves as co-executive producer and Kendall Michele Haney as story editor. The series is also executive produced by Stephen Christy (Just Beyond) and Ross Richie (2 Guns), with Mette Norkjaer serving as co-producer, for BOOM! Studios. Production of HexVet for Nickelodeon Animation is overseen by Eryk Casemiro, Executive Vice President, Nickelodeon Animation, Global Series Content. Kate Crownover serves as Nickelodeon’s Executive in Charge of Production for the series.

Winning Time S1E3: The Best Is Yet To Come

The Best Is Yet To Come

Winning Time’s third episode, “The Best Is Yet To Come“, shows just how precarious the Lakers’ franchise was at this time starting from the opening moments where Jerry Buss (John C. Reilly) completely loses his cool at Jerry West (Jason Clarke) for quitting two weeks before the season. The wheeling and dealing playboy has been thrown to side as West tries to salvage the interaction by saying that he wasn’t cut out for coaching and wishes he could still play for the Lakers, but he’s too old. Director Damian Marcano shoots the scene in a closed office space that becomes a recurring motif in this episode with Magic Johnson (Quincy Isaiah) spending a lot of time in the contained space of his new apartment in L.A. or former Lakers player/wannabe color commentator Pat Riley (Adrien Brody) reliving his glory days in his garage until he ends up raging out and chainsawing the whole place after his more successful wife Chris (Gillian Jacobs) says she wants to turn into her new therapist’s office. And, of course, there’s the body in the car trunk at the end of the episode. All is this to say is that Jim Hecht, Max Borenstein, and Rodney Barnes script a downer of an hour of Winning Time showing that the Lakers, and by extension Buss, Johnson, and Riley, have growing pains to go through before they can be great.

Three episodes in, and Winning Time‘s ensemble has really start to balloon. However, Hecht, Borenstein, and Barnes keep this basically cast of thousands manageable by orienting each character to either Magic Johnson and Pat Riley’s personal arc or the Lakers coaching search. (There is some D-plot kind of stuff with the team’s finances lingering like background radiation.) So, Jerry Tarkanian (Rory Cochrane) and his wise guy fixer Vic Weiss (Danny Burstein) figure in the story as Jerry Buss’ top pick for new Lakers coach. Tarkanian’s disinterest is pretty evident as he loves being respected in Las Vegas as the head coach of UNLV despite being under the scrutiny of the NCAA. Also, Johnson joins Norm Nixon (DeVaughn Nixon) for the premiere of The Fish Who Saved Pittsburgh and gets a taste of being a celebrity and what it’s really like to be an NBA player, and it’s kind of empty.

On the outside, Winning Time might be a glamorous show with 1970s/1980s fashions, California sunshine, bright lights, and naked women, but it continues to actually be about successful men (Emphasis on men.) and their existential crises. Cinematographer Todd Banhazl and editor Hank Corwin let a lot of scenes trail off and switch to a grainy (Think home movie, not New Hollywood film) composition to linger in unspoken emotion like Magic leaving his family to be driven to L.A., or Pat Riley spending aimless, unsatisfactory days at the beach. This extends to the writing as well with Jim Hecht, Max Borenstein, and Rodney Barnes giving Pat Riley (In job begging mode) one hell of monologue to Jerry West about how he never realized that his basketball career would end. (Spoiler alert: It’s 2022, and it still hasn’t.) Marcano does a slow pan to West’s dented MVP trophy and a plaque commemorating him as the official logo of the NBA while Riley tells West that he wish he had at least accomplished something in his career.

The look on Jason Clarke’s face basically says, “See the last episode”, and he’s the same kind of empty as Riley. By the end of the episode, Jerry West is looking as dejected as he was at the beginning and isn’t into having sex with his wife Karen (Lola Kirke), who wants him to become a father. He doesn’t, and it takes him the entire episode to clean out his office. Along the way, he is furious at Buss’ decision to hire Jerry Tarkanian and ends up finding what he thinks is a diamond in the rough in Jack McKinney (Tracy Letts). Letts plays McKinney as the most forgettable middle aged white dude, but the film clips of his Portland Trailblazers team and how he basically comes up with the idea of Showtime gets seeded in quietly while Buss is off jetting to Vegas to woo Tarkanian. West’s passion as he breaks down the film of McKinney’s Portland teams is in contrast with his interactions with his wife and honestly everyone else. Both he and Riley only light up because of the game of basketball. That’s all they know.

The Best Is Yet To Come

As mentioned earlier, John C. Reilly shows the angry side of Jerry Buss, and we also get to see more of his desperate side like an awkwardly hilarious sequence showing how he does his combover or when he ditches lunch with Magic Johnson to fly to Las Vegas and give Tarkanian all his money. The scenes with Jerry Tarkanian and especially his fixer Vic Weiss are straight out of a 1990s mob film with dim lighting, a Rat Pack soundtrack, and lots of quick cuts to show that Buss is out of his depth as he and his business partner Frank Mariani have to hand over their whole wad of cash to even get to have dinner with Tarkanian. Thanks to $750,000 and two cars, Tarkanian does end up taking the Lakers offer, but the conclusion of this episode puts that on hold continuing the one step forward, two steps back of Jerry Buss trying to turn the Lakers into a contender. Tracy Letts nails “Tark the Shark’s” larger than life personality including his paranoia, and how he comes across as a baron of a small fiefdom instead of an emperor. But, NCAA rules aside, he has things running smoothly at UNLV compared to the utter financial and basketball shitshow that is the Lakers. (Which is why they make an interesting TV subject.)

Also, don’t think I’ve forgotten about Magic Johnson. Quincy Isaiah does a good job showing what is charismatic for Johnson in East Lansing comes across as starstruck in Los Angeles through the quick wit of Norm Nixon. However, Nixon ends up being overshadowed by Bill Cosby at his film premiere, and the photographers ask him and his teammates if there are any Los Angeles Rams on the red carpet because the NFL far eclipsed the NBA in popularity in 1979. And in an even darker sequence (And probably why the real Magic Johnson is silent about the show so far.), Johnson falls for the over the top advances of a local pimp and ends up hanging out and having sex with lots of women at his after hours club. This sequence shows Johnson’s naivete as he falls for the pimp’s offer even after more experienced teammate Jamaal Wilkes tells him that the pimp has nothing lose, but Magic Johnson has everything to lose as his career is just starting. Damien Marcano and Corwin also utilize hard cuts from the after hours club to Johnson on the phone with his family to show how empty his time in L.A. has been so far, and that people want to use him and not be his actual friend with the exception of Nixon, who is still going after his starting position.

The Best Is Yet To Come

Even though he’s at the beginning of his basketball journey compared to Jerry West and Pat Riley, Johnson shares a throughline of disappointment with them. At the end of the day, (Although West and Riley have wives.) they’re alone with their thoughts and wondering whether it was worth it to spend so much time practicing and getting better. Marcano explores an undercurrent of nostalgia in his shots of these men from Pat Riley doing commentary over his old University of Kentucky highlights to Magic Johnson putting on his Michigan State hat when he leaves for Los Angeles. Nostalgia is a comfortable place, but as a way overcast Gillian Jacobs as Chris Riley says, “There’s a reason we bury the dead.”.

By weaving together the stories of Magic Johnson, Pat Riley, and Jerry West’s existential crises with Jerry Buss’ frantic attempt to get a Lakers head coach, Damien Marcano, Hecht, Borenstein, and Barnes craft an episode of Winning Time that has both style and substance and finds the flawed humanity in these basketball greats. Also, Adrien Brody’s sad boy slacker take on Riley is memorable and mesmerizing. Unfortunately, the female characters of “The Best is Yet to Come” only exist to advance the arcs of the male characters with even the well-drawn Claire Rothman (Gaby Hoffman) confined to smoking and sneering.

Overall Verdict: 8.4

Netflix reveals blood-soaked posters for its live-action Resident Evil series

Resident Evil has become a pop culture giant, and now it aims to become even bigger with its first ever live-action series slated for release on Netflix this coming July 14th. Actor Lance Reddick (The Wire, Bosch, Horizon: Zero Dawn) is attached to the project and will be playing the role of Albert Wesker, the sunglasses-wearing embodiment of government conspiracies and clandestine machinations.

Netflix has released a summary for the series. It reads:

“2036 – 14 years after a deadly virus caused a global apocalypse, Jade Wesker fights for survival in a world overrun by the blood-thirsty infected and insane creatures. In this absolute carnage, Jade is haunted by her past in New Raccoon City, by her father’s chilling connections to the Umbrella Corporation but mostly by what happened to her sister, Billie.”

Judging by the main character’s name, it’s safe to assume the story is hedging its bets on Wesker’s history being compelling enough to build an entire series on. I’d say it is. His place in the RE universe can be compared to that of the Cigarette Smoking Man’s in The X-Files tv show. He’s the shadowy observer, the backstage manipulator whose limitless knowledge of everything secret turns him into the very essence of what makes ‘deep background’ character types so easy to obsess over.

The focus on a future setting is surprising, even if the time jump is little more than a decade from our own time. In the context of COVID, going for a post-pandemic scenario might allow the story to look back into recent events and comment on the many missteps we took as a people from all corners of society. Of course, you take all that and add zombies to it to get that special RE flavor.

Netflix has also released three teaser posters that reassure fans the basic elements of the game’s universe will transfer over into the series. One of them, for instance, shows a vial that contains a blood sample marked positive for the T-Virus. Another presents an Umbrella Corp pill covered in blood that carries the name of JOY. It’s all in the details and the posters make sure any first impressions ramp up fan excitement.

For those eager to jump into the RE extended universe, Netflix already has a solid animated series called Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness. It follows an international investigation led by Leon and Claire as new signs of the same zombie outbreak that descended upon them in Raccoon City start to surface once more. It’s a digital animation that plays out much like an extended cinematic sequence ripped straight from one of the games but with a serviceable storyline and well-choreographed action moments to round out the experience.

With the Netflix series on the horizon, expect to see more information to pour out in the coming weeks. A trailer drop should be imminent. The biggest question surrounding the show is how faithful it will be to the source material. The Milla Jovovich-ledResident Evil movies have a fanbase, but they were quick to ditch the games after a few entries. Netflix has a chance to set a new standard for the license. In an already crowded zombie arena, Resident Evil has a unique chance to rule the land. It has to make sure it gets the zombies and the monsters right, though.

From Democratic Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate to United Earth President. Stacey Abrams’ Cameo on Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams has talked extensively about her love of Star Trek and got to make a cameo in the Star Trek: Discovery season 4 finale as the president of the United Earth.

The former state lawmaker has held fundraisers with cast members of Star Trek to help candidates such as Senators Jon Ossoff (D) and Raphael Warnock (D). She also was part of the “Trek the vote to victory” event to help support then president nominee Joe Biden.

Abrams is known as a voting rights activist who is credited with helping boost the voter turnout in Georgia. She founded Fair Fight Action, an organization focused on addressing voter suppression. She’s also a prolific author with over a dozen books written.

In an interview with Deadline, Abrams said she was excited for the chance to say “Nothing to discuss” as the United Earth was ready to rejoin the Federation in the episode.

Abrams is currently running again for the position of Governor of Georgia where she’ll face either the current incumbent Governor Brian Kemp or former Senator David Perdue who are currently fighting for the GOP nomination.

Ms. Marvel Arrives in June. Get a First Look

The future is in her hands. We’ve got a first look at Marvel StudiosMs. Marvel which will premiere on Disney+ on June 8.

We’ve got confirmation that the character’s powers have changed, and likely her Inhuman background. Instead of gaining her powers from Terrigen Mists, it looks like the character is sporting… Quantum Bands!? We do see similar powers from the comic page and the trailer definitely has an infectious fun aspect about it.

Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, debuted in 2013 in Captain Marvel #14. The character was created by Sana Amanat, Stephen Wacker, G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and Jamie McKelvie. The character has been a hit breaking from the traditional mold to tell the story of a Muslim, Pakistani American girl that lives in New Jersey.

We’ll find out more when the show debuts later this year.

TV Review: Winning Time S1E2 “Is That All There Is?”

Is That All There Is?

Jerry West’s memoir is titled My Charmed, Tormented Life, and from the outside, it doesn’t make sense that a man who is literally the logo of the NBA, one of its greatest players, and also found success as an executive discovering two of the greatest players of my life time (Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry) would describe his life that way. But basketball was an escape for him from a tough life in rural West Virginia until it wasn’t. The second episode, “Is That All There Is?“, of Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty delves into West’s (Jason Clarke) love and loathing for the game of basketball, and how it controlled everything in his life, including his mental health and his relationship with his wife Karen (Lola Kirke). Scenes with West bookend the Jonah Hill-directed episode, but writers Rodney Barnes and Max Borenstein continue to dig into Magic Johnson’s (Quincy Isaiah) relationship with his family and on-and-off again girlfriend Cookie Kelly (Tamera Tomakili) as well as the business side of the Lakers with Jerry Buss (John C. Reilly) facing off against Boston Celtics general manager Red Auerbach (Michael Chiklis) and trying to succeed at this business side of things.

The pre-credits sequence of “Is That All There Is” is basically a short film of Jerry West’s life as he bounces the basketball to drown out the sounds of his father abusing his mother as well as the grief over his brother’s death in the Korean War. Hill and editor Hank Corwin dissolve from the snows of West Virginia to confetti in Los Angeles when West won his only championship as a player in 1972. Until Buss tells him that he can play Johnson at power forward, this is the only time he smiles in the episode. The raucous environment of the Forum leads to Jerry West drinking alone at a bar that’s hosting a wake for a guy he doesn’t know, and he ends up having a one night stand with the attendees with confetti still in his air from the championship celebration. (Yes, Jerry West fucks in this episode.)

Basically, like the lyrics of the song and the episode of the title, West is unhappy with his life despite his great successes. He doesn’t like coaching the Lakers as evidenced by his antagonistic encounters with Norm Nixon (DeVaughn Nixon) in flashbacks, and general manager Bill Sharman (Brett Cullen) has a good point when he says that Buss giving him free reign to sign players will also hinder him from making excuses why the Lakers keep losing. In contrast with Jerry Buss and Magic Johnson, he doesn’t seem to be having a good time, has no effect on laconic star player Kareem-Abdul-Jabbar (An imposing Solomon Hughes) even after passionately monologuing about how he’ll get a power forward to help him out in the post so maybe it’s time for him to get off this train.

Is That All There Is?

I love the parallels that Barnes and Borenstein draw between Jerry West and Red Auerbach throughout the episode. Auerbach isn’t in the episode a lot, but Chiklis steals every scene with a puff of smoke beginning with a freeze frame, black and white introduction with future NBA commissioner David Stern calling him the pope. Buss and Auerbach are on two planes of reality with the Celtics GM not falling for the Lakers new owner’s offers of a night out and beautiful women even if they do end up sharing a brief dinner. Red Auerbach brings out a darker, less playful side of Jerry Buss with John C. Reilly taking the sunglasses off and saying that he will eat Auerbach’s heart on the Forum floor. It definitely feels like a kid putting on his father’s clothes, especially with all the behind the scenes financial shenanigans like Buss’ mom/accountant Jessie (Sally Field) saying that the Lakers are a money pit or his business associate Frank Mariani stealing the past ten years of records so no nonsense Claire Rothman (Gaby Hoffmann) can put together a budget for next year. With talks of big concerts at the Forum or the Lakers being one piece away from a championship, there’s a slight bit of hope in the air, but they could also go bankrupt like Rothman’s last job in Philadelphia.

The love triangle between Magic Johnson, Cookie Kelly, and Brian, a devout church goer and shoe store manager seems contrived while setting up Johnson’s reputation as a womanizer and showing that he’s not a nice guy as he utterly humiliates Brian on a Lansing playground. Isaiah continues to be a believable Johnson on and off the court as he dazzles with his passing and moves and charms everyone at the fish fry. Except for his mother, Christine (LisaGay Hamilton), who is not amused by his gift of a hot tub even though Johnson knows she’s wanted it for years by her reactions to the commercial during her soap operas. She smiles and talks about the gift in an animated way when she’s with her friends, but is all business around her son. Her husband Earvin Sr. (Rob Morgan) finds a middle ground when he basically tells her that Magic is grown up and has to find his own way in L.A., and that his free spirit came from her, who used to play point guard and dance before she joined the Seventh Day Adventist Church. By spending an entire episode showing Magic Johnson’s life and relationships in his hometown, Rodney Barnes and Max Borenstein ground him as a character and show that there is an entire town (Ok, maybe not Brian.) rooting for him even as Jerry West plots to minimize role from what Jerry Buss promised.

Jonah Hill cuts down on the sugar rush fourth wall breaking in “Is That All There Is?” and uses more natural storytelling techniques to show the current state of the NBA, the Lakers, and this episode’s key players. Jerry West cowering in a dark room in his underwear or sitting alone at a bar tells more about his mental state than talking to the camera or motormouth voiceovers. This episode also sets up Red Auerbach and the Boston Celtics as the key antagonists in the series with the racial implications of them having a white star player in Larry Bird showing up during the owners meeting. But the real conflict in Winning Time is internal with Jerry West butting heads with Jerry Buss, Bill Sharman, and as implied from his interactions with Nixon and Abdul-Jabbar, the players too so he decides to leave as coach right before the season. Him undercutting Buss’ big speech with a glance and a resignation letter creates a sense of uncertainty for future episodes, and boy, am I looking forward to Adrien Brody’s Pat Riley in upcoming weeks. All in all, Winning Time continues to strike a good balance between individual character arcs and the drama of running an NBA franchise in an era when golf, tennis, and bowling were more popular sports.

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