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The Player - Pilot - Advance Preview


That’s the word that Wesley Snipes’ Mr. Johnson uses to open this pilot, and watching the trailer back having mused over the pilot, it’s easy to assume he was referring to the following 40 minutes of television.

NBC’s The Player revolves around Alex Kane (Philip Winchester), a former military operative turned security expert who is drawn into a high-stakes game where an organization of wealthy individuals gamble on his ability to stop some of the biggest crimes imaginable from playing out. He joins ‘The House’ which contains Mr Johnson - the pit boss - and Cassandra (Charity Wakefield) - the dealer - to try and stop said crimes.

To say this pilot is bad would be wrong. It’s not. Equally, however, it’s not good. It’s just somewhere in the middle - problematic with a few elements that work, and it’s left me extremely torn.

One of the biggest problems this pilot has is the speed at which the main bulk of the episode travels along at. It goes horrifyingly fast. It’s a combination of action, a high tempo score and a huge amount of desperate intensity. None of these are bad on their own, but when put together, it becomes incredibly hard to get into the premise.

Which is perhaps where we end up with a catch-22 situation, because the premise is utterly ridiculous. Were things to move any slower, the flaws of the premise would stand out far more for the majority of the episode, and that is perhaps the show’s biggest pitfall. The action is exciting, I’ll give it that, but it concerns me how prevalent it needs to be here.

On the plus side, the development with Kane in the first and last ten minutes is pretty solid, and Philip Winchester does a good job throughout. I enjoyed how Kane was more angry than emotional after his ex-wife Ginny is murdered, as it speaks a lot to his past. Speaking of, there’s an air of mystery surrounding his past that’s hinted at and I’m intrigued to find out more about it.

Mr. Johnson is a very bizarre character, and well played by Snipes, though your opinion on that will depend on how much you can cope with Johnson’s arrogance throughout. Personally, I got a little frustrated with it by the end, though that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy his performance. Wakefield’s Cassandra is enjoyable to watch, arguably more so than Snipes, and I’m interested to learn more about her past as well.

This show is from the executive producers of The Blacklist, a show which relies almost exclusively on James Spader’s performance in order to exist. None of the three actors are strong enough on their own to do what Spader does, but as a trio things do come together a little more.

The first ten minutes do a really good job of setting things up at a quite leisurely pace, but after that things really do go to hell and I was left longing for that slower pace. Once Ginny dies and things ramp up, it’s like a broken bungee rope. When things slow down again towards the end of the episode, the flawed premise is notable once again, while the episode closes with a really out-of-place and corny piece of dialogue.

Is this show worth watching? If you like Winchester, Snipes and can mostly ignore the dumb premise then it’s probably for you. If the leads turn you off at all, I can’t imagine you’ll enjoy this very much.

The Player begins on Thursday 24th September at 10pm on NBC.

About the Author - Bradley Adams
17 year old based in England, currently Senior Staff at SpoilerTV. Most of his posts are news/spoiler based, though he is currently the reviewer of Person of Interest, co-host on the SpoilerTV Podcast. Created and is in charge of the yearly Favourite Episode Competition and currently runs the Favourite Series Competition. A big TV fan, his range of shows are almost exclusively dramas, while some of his all-time favourite shows include 24, LOST, Breaking Bad and Friends. Some of his current favourites include Person of Interest, Banshee, Arrow, The Flash, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul and many more. He also runs an Arrow fans site, ArrowFansUK, and aside from TV, is a keen cricketer. Get in touch with him via the links below or via email bradley@spoilertv.com
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