THE SHOW "Survivor's Remorse"
WHEN | WHERE Premieres Saturday night at 9 on Starz. (First two episodes online free at starz.com)
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Drama. Comedy. News item. Social statement. Economic engine.
That's sports today. And here's that whole wide world. From foot-in-mouth TV interviews to the all-cash-offer penthouse purchase -- right down to the sham mea culpa for something you couldn't get past the PC police -- "Survivor's Remorse" covers it all. This adult half-hour is in bed with those in bed with fame and fortune and finding their footing. Executive producer LeBron James knows from that.
Here, the hoops prodigy is Cam Calloway (persuasive newcomer Jessie Usher), newly atop the Atlanta scene but keen to keep his Boston street roots. He'd rim-up his new Aston Martin, if cousin/manager/running buddy Reggie (RonReaco Lee) would let him. Cam is accompanied by earthy mom Cassie (Tichina Arnold) and tagalong Uncle Julius (Mike Epps) -- eager climbers, yes, but no dummies. Running his "foundation" is out older sister, Mary Charles, or M-Chuck (Erica Ash), still stewing from getting no credit for raising the big man.
MY SAY "Survivor's Remorse" is all over the place in a good way, smartly weaving together out-loud laughs, palpable jeopardy, family drama, business sense and (multi-) culture clash -- all sprouting from finely drawn characterizations that carry real-world weight. Though dialogue can address issues a bit too squarely, these people have the depth to make it resonate, especially in public moments that demand their own conceit. If Cam's introductory press appearance seems too heartfelt to be true, it's because that sincerity was scripted -- by the cousin who later calls out Cam with the (mock?) threat, "When '30 for 30' calls, I will gladly grant them an interview."
The show's real revelation is creator/writer/showrunner Mike O'Malley, the standup and sitcom sad sack who takes this ball and slam-dunks it. With his fluid scripts, these sharp actors hit not just three-pointers but also free throws. Which, fans know, can be the toughest shot of all.
BOTTOM LINE Knows where it comes from, knows where it's going.