Ballers S1 E1 “Pilot” – TV Review

By: Daniel Chadwick-Shubat

The amount of original, critically brilliant content HBO puts out on a yearly basis is amazing. From Silicon Valley to Game of Thrones HBO puts out content that draws in fans and critics alike creating an almost cult like status. 

But ladies and gentlemen I bring tidings of great joy. HBO have finally produced a show that can replace Entourage’s awesomeness and crazy, only-in-hollywood-characters. That show is… Ballers!

Dwayne Johnson, the artist formerly known as “The Rock,” stars as Spencer Strasmore, a former NFL star who’s trying to build a new career helping other football stars manage their money. It’s not easy, since his would-be clients seem more interested in partying and girls than in pondering their financial future.

The good news is that the pilot has its own energy, humor and terrific performances, notably by Johnson. Though Spencer seems to have it all together, the more we watch, the more we learn how much effort Spencer puts into trying to create a top-of-the-world image. His position at the financial advisers’ firm is more in danger than he thought, he didn’t end his pro football career the way he hoped, and he’s relying on pills to get him through the day. And he has a boss at work who’s both hilarious and a dick at the same time (played brilliantly by Rob Cordry).

With an instantly likable supporting cast and its own version of Ari Gold, Ballers seems like a sure thing for an order of a second season. While in the first episode we as an audience are not given a lot to dig into, Ballers certainly sets the scene and the characters.

Most interesting of them all is Larry a talent agent for the Dolphins who only has a couple scenes throughout the pilot but still makes me smirk and want more. You know you have a good show on your hands when you instantly warm to all the characters, even the idiots.

The success of Ballers will depend on how much viewers like the Rock in this role. So far it seems like it could be one of the first works that he’s actually acted in, rather than being… The Rock. Anyone remember Snitch? I loved that Johnson and it showed he could really act. Ballers gives Johnson a challenge to not only carry a TV show but also to show Hollywood that he can be someone else than “the tough guy”.

Johnson is so likable, he makes this physically imposing former football star seem downright vulnerable. We can’t help rooting for Spencer to succeed, and judging from its confident, awesome tone, the 10-episode Ballers is a winner.

Ballers Season 2 returns this summer. Stay tuned to Get Reel Movies for a look at season 2.

What did you think of the pilot of Ballers? Will you keep watching? Let us know in the comments below…

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