Monday, January 19, 2015

Amazon Prime – Cocked

I applaud Amazon’s resilience.   They are constantly churning out pilots for public consumption.  I missed out of the first batch, which produced Alpha House and Betas, but I was all in for the last two offerings. 

This time around Amazon has 13 different pilots up review, including six kid shows and one based on the New York Times.  It’s pretty ambitious.  

First up is Cocked. 

Cocked is a comedic drama about Richard Paxon (Sam Trammell) a modern family man with middling corporate success who is forced to return back to his hometown to save the father’s gun business.   His father Wade Paxon (Brian Dennehy) is too old fashioned and his brother Grady (Jason Lee) made a decision that put the company in a precarious position. 

The show works the familiar formula of creating conflict by placing the lead in a situation where he doesn’t want to be.  Realizing the gun business wasn’t for him, Richard sought to make a name for himself,  But he’s drawn back into the family business after his life is threatened by a mysterious stranger. 

Richard is very much a modern man, or more accurately everything that’s wrong with modern man.  His kids don’t respect him and neither does his wife.  Because he’s concerned about the pasta intake of his children he brings home a vegan feast from a new restaurant that he heard had a good kale salad.  Also his proposal to save his father’s floundering company is to market guns to the LGBT community. 

Of course that proposal is actually a success and helps relieve the business of some of its financial burden.  But by that point Richard is completely committed to being a part of the family business again. 

Other subplots introduced in the pilot include a rival, more successful gun company run by Wade’s younger brother, Tabby (Dreama Walker) the half sister to both Richard and Grady being Richard’s rival within the company, as well as the idea that the mysterious stranger who threatened Richard may have been employed by someone at Paxon. 

Dennehy does what Dennehy does.  It’s a very ‘Brian Dennehy’ role and he’s up to the task.  Meanwhile Jason Lee gets to take things up to 11 as the occasionally coked out Grady.  Trammell is fine as Richard.  Because of the character, he can’t really bring any flash to the screen, but he lacks magnetism and any sense of depth.  He’s just sort of dull, beyond what the character calls for. 

On the other hand Dreama Walker gives Tabby some real bite.  It could come off as one-dimensional, but thankfully the writers provide layers via exposition.  Unfortunately Laura Fraser, as Richard’s wife Hannah, has very little to do beyond place demands on the lead.  Hopefully she’ll be fleshed out if the series goes forward. 

Cocked is a completely adequate pilot.  It’s got paint-by-numbers conflicts that are predictably.  Richard reluctantly returns to a place he never felt welcome, but opts to stay out of a sense of honor and pride.  Richard and Grady have a contentious relationship, but their bond as brothers wins out in the end. 

If Cocked does get picked up I would hope that the writers venture outside of familiar tropes and make the show special.  But I wouldn’t bet on that happening. 

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