“The Player” (NBC) pilot preview: Game over or game on? All bets are off!

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Previously entitled “Endgame“. Pilot “Place Your Bets” written & produced by John Rogers (The Librarians, Leverage, Catwoman, Transformers). Co-produced by John Fox (The Blacklist) & John Davis (The Blacklist, Predator, Paycheck).  For NBC, Sony Pictures Television & Davis Entertainment. 64 pages.

Description: In the high stakes world of Las Vegas, Alex King, a former sniper turned security expert who just lost his wife, is drawn into a mysterious conspiracy that forces him to complete a series of heroic challenges in order to save innocent lives. It’s called The Game. There are the House, the Pitt Boss, the Dealer and he is the Player. 

With Philip Winchester (Strike Back, Fringe, 24, Crusoe), Wesley Snipes (Blade, Demolition Man, The Fan, Murder at 1600), Damon Gupton (Empire, The Divide), Charity Wakefield (Wolf Hall), Cara Buono (Mad Men, Person of Interest)…

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Because at NBC they can’t find their own voice (pun intended) regarding their scripted slate, they have no choice but to order more and more tideous dramas from Dick Wolf (Chicago Med is next) and copy what the others do better (like mixing Scandal & Homeland to offer disastrous State of Affairs). But sooner or later, it won’t be enough anymore to stay revelant, to stay in the game. They have already lost the comedy battle, with only failed attempts for more than three years. And The Voice can’t be broadcast 5 days a week. And the Sunday Night Football can’t become the Every Night Football. They recently made a good move though: this past development season, they asked for a new TV show from the producers of The Blacklist, their most recent hit, and that’s how Endgame came to life. And that’s how they might finally have a winner! But I’m being precautious with this one: it sounds like a mid-season entry. They won’t be able to sign Wesley Snipes for 22 episodes per season. And Wesley Snipes -playing the very mysterious but not so serious Mr Jonhson- while not being the central character, is one of the main reasons why Endgame is good.

Like red-hot Blindspot, another high octane thriller in consideration for next season (Read the preview here), Endgame begins with an almost naked character -this time, it’s a man- in the streets of a big city -Fabulous Las Vegas instead of Big Apple- for a chase including very bad guys, gunshots and lovely people dying. It starts like the climax of an action movie and then the pilot takes its time to delve into the very complex story of our dark hero and the conspiracy he is drawn into, and not without multiple twists and turns and other action-fueled scenes. Honestly, I’m not sure I am capable to explain it you. I’m not even sure I understood everything correctly. And I don’t think it would be fair to tell you too much. Let’s just say in the world of Endgame, there is no such thing as chance or coincidence, of any sort. There are people over there who know everything about eveybody and you can never escape from them. They are part of “The Game”.

They described themselves and their organization as almighty. They are more powerful than the FBI, the CIA or even the NSA. They are the wealthiest. They gamble -litteraly- over people’s lives and they are not afraid to lose because, even when they lose, they’re still winners. To be more precise and I won’t say anything more after that, they created a technology that helps predicting crimes (hello Person Of Interest, hiiii Minority Report) and they bet on the issue: will the crime be committed or will it be prevented? They could stop murders, wars and famines if they wanted to, they have the resources, but they don’t care. All they are interested in is to play and win. You and me, we are their checkers. And our hero is their player. He is the one that takes all the risks to save us from our death. And he can’t always succeed even if he looks like a superhero most of the time, but with a bad temper and some sadness in his eyes because, of course, he lost his wife. If you look at it closely, it shares a lot with The Blacklist. They have the “preventing crimes” thing in common. But it works very differently.

So, I don’t know if I helped you get a better idea of what Endgame is about, but what you have to remember for now is : it’s fast-paced, it’s dark, it’s twisted, it’s smart and it’s kind of fun. There is a mythology behind, a lot questions to be answered, a lot of characters whose motivations need to be explained and the promise of a thrilling ride. It could very well end up as a disappointment after a few episodes like The Blacklist, but not if NBC plays it smart. I bet on it. Game on!

4 comments

  1. Rhaydde says:

    Wow, pretty surprised by this preview tbh, I had a completely different impression from the trailer. It doesn’t look like a good show at all, it made me think of Intelligence actually, which isn’t really a compliment.
    Did yours change with it actually ? Does it looks like what you expected ?

  2. tash says:

    I don’t know what you mean by “there is a mythology behind it” but if it’s like the blacklist, I’m afraid I won’t try the endgame… I gave 1 season to the blacklist and it was a huge disappointment. Not that I didn’t like what I saw but it was more like a modern, fast-paced procedural than a real ambitious thriller. We’ll see what endgame (and blindspot) have to offer but I’m really cautious about both.

  3. Tonya says:

    I like the actors for this series a lot. Hopefully NBC will order this and Blindspot to series, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. NBC has a way of picking cool sounding series to pilot and then not picking them up to series or picking them up then canceling them before they air. I am still bitter about The Sixth Gun getting passed on.

    • Lulla says:

      I totally agree with you about “The Sixth Gun”. Really a great script. One of my favorite that season. Still don’t understand what happened (and why it wasn’t picked-up by another channel instead…)

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