Previews

Ballers Premiere Preview

Ballers

WARNING: Ballers spoilers

Dwayne Johnson takes a momentary break from the big screen superstar he’s become to grace us with his massive presence on a new HBO series. In Ballers, he plays Spencer Strasmore, a retired NFL pro who struggles with life after football. Spencer’s a financial manager who can’t quite manage to turn his high profile friends and contacts into clients. He has no choice but to up his game, which often means dealing with unpredictable athletes who do unpredictable things on and especially off the field.

HBO Synopsis: Spencer is a retired football superstar who is trying to reinvent himself as a financial manager for current players in sunsoaked Miami. His inner circle includes Ricky, a talented but volatile wide receiver who seeks to balance his off-field antics with his passion for the game; Charles, a reluctantly retired lineman who’s finding it hard to adjust to civilian life; and Vernon, a player with a rookie contract, whose promise never to forget “where he came from” brings scores of hangers-on into his life, and lands him in big financial trouble. Though they’re pros when it comes to playing the game, each one has a harder time navigating life off the field.

Created by Stephen Levinson (HBO’s Entourage, Boardwalk Empire and In Treatment) and executive produced by Stephen Levinson, Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, Peter Berg, Evan Reilly, Rob Weiss, Julian Farino and Denis Biggs, Ballers explores the whirlwind lifestyle and real-life problems of a group of former and current football players. The show kicks off its ten-episode season SUNDAY, JUNE 21 (10:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.

Thoughts

This is the NFL in Miami so expect cameos. The premiere pays homage to the Dolphins with an appearance from a couple of Dolphin legends, Don Shula and Larry Csonka.

The Ballers cast also includes Childrens Hospital‘s Rob Corddry, Psych‘s Dule Hill and CSI Miami‘s Omar Benson Miller.

Playing wide receiver Ricky Jarret is one of the show’s standouts, John David Washington. Turns out he’s Denzel Washington’s son. Another standout is the actor who plays Ricky’s agent, Troy Garity of Starz’s Boss.

Working behind the scenes as one of the show’s executive producers and taking a role in front of the camera is Peter Berg of Friday Night Lights fame.

First Impression: there’s a lot of flash and fireworks in this first episode but by the end of the half hour, there’s just enough substance to hook us. Johnson’s character is likable — consider us on board as he tries to reinvent himself and succeed off the field. Looks like it’s going to be an uphill battle.

Ballers premieres tonight at 10/9c on HBO.

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