Review: ‘The Player’ Premieres on NBC


The Player premiered on NBC last night and it is unbelievably bad. The ridiculous premise reminded me a lot of Death Race, but instead of embracing the silliness to create some campy overblown fun, The Player is a self-serious and boring show that refuses to do anything that might be entertaining.

The dialogue makes you feel like you’re watching a bunch of movie trailers lazily strung together. “How do you do that, figure out what bad guys are gonna do?” “Think like a bad guy.” “How do you think like a bad guy without being a bad guy?”

The pilot quickly introduces the most boring TV relationship I’ve ever seen. Generic protagonist Alex Kane (Strike Back‘s Philip Winchester) trades cliches with his ex-wife Ginny (Person of Interest‘s Cara Buono). The worst of the dialogue exchanged between the two of them? “There was a time when I’d say I was a bad guy because I was.” “Were. You are not that guy anymore.” After they have sex and exposit about the nature of their relationship for a while, she’s killed off to serve his story.

That’s when Mr. Johnson (Blade‘s Wesley Snipes) and Cassandra King (The Raven‘s Charity Wakefield) swoop in and tell Alex about a group of extremely wealthy individuals who realized you can “predict crime” by tapping everyone’s phones. They play this off like a really cool, impossible thing when it’s actually just our current unfortunate reality. The twist is that the individual’s behind this don’t care about stopping crime: they just want to gamble on it. They ask Alex to be “the player” who people will bet on to either successfully stop crimes or not. This is where things could get ridiculous enough to be fun, but the show holds on to its bland and stiff style.

Between this and Blindspot it feels like NBC’s new dramas are all just rejected NTSF:SD:SUV scripts.


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Pop Culture Spin Managing Editor Lenny Burnham is a writer/comedian in New York City. He hosts the podcast The Filmographers.

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