Ballers: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
HBO’s ‘Ballers’ reminds me of another HBO creation, ‘Entourage’ in that the show follows around rich, famous people living in a world that the rest of us only dream of. Like ‘Entourage’, ‘Ballers’ relies heavily on the fact that most of us want to live in that world and so it does its best to bring you into it and show you everything you’re missing. The similarities don’t stop there. ‘Entourage’ was one of the worst shows on television because it gave us empty, shallow characters that accomplished nothing and never grew. ‘Ballers’ does the exact same thing; we love Spencer because he’s played by the great Dwayne Johnson, but everyone Spencer comes into contact with is just a despicable human being, completely void of any redeeming qualities. So let’s just say it’s hard to get invested in the show.
‘Ballers’ follows the post-NFL career of Spencer, who is now trying to start a second career as a money manager for pro athletes. His partner in this endeavor is Joe (Corddry), a veteran financial manager showing Spencer the ropes as they try to sway other football players to invest in their firm. Aside from Spencer and Joe, we follow some football players, such as the sleazy Ricky (John David Washington), the retired nice guy Charles (Omar Benson Miller) and the budding superstar Vernon (Donovan Carter).
Let me be clear about all three of these guys; you will hate them. They are terrible people doing terrible things, but perhaps the worst part is that the show tries to evoke sympathy for them every time they do something stupid and get caught, which happens every episode. The problem is that there are no redeeming qualities about these guys for the audience to care about. It’s fun to watch pro-athletes party, have sex and do drugs, but that can’t carry a show. But the showrunners hope that everyone will forget about their terrible characters and the lazy script writing and just take pleasure in watching rich, beautiful people having fun. But it wasn’t enough for ‘Entourage’ and it’s not enough for ‘Ballers’.
But one thing ‘Ballers’ does have for it is Dwayne Johnson. When he’s on screen, the show doesn’t seem so bad, which only made me frustrated that they bothered with anyone else. There’s a drastic drop in quality when the show moves its focus from Spencer to Vernon, Charles or Ricky. Especially Ricky. Ricky is the embodiment of everything America hates about professional athletes; he’s cocky, ungrateful, dishonest, never learns and constantly makes stupid decisions. And of course, neither he nor any of the characters in ‘Ballers’ grew an ounce over the course of the first season.
Of all the show’s problems, the most frustrating aspect about ‘Ballers’ is the fact that it had a lot of promise. The Rock might be the most charismatic lead actor working today and getting him to lead a TV series was a major coup for HBO. Also, the world of professional athletes and the financial managers trying to handle them is somewhat interesting. Take that and set in Miami and you’d think you’d have a good show. However, ‘Ballers’ is a complete miss from HBO, at least in terms of show quality. And I’m not even going to address whether or not the show is sexist, racist or insulting to the NFL; that can be left up to you.
Video: ‘Ballers’ looks beautiful on Blu-ray. This is a very stylized, sleek show and it comes through incredibly on Blu-ray.
Audio: The audio is also impressive.
Inside the Episodes: Each episode features about a three minute introduction to the episode.