The Player: Flawed yet entertaining

The first frame of NBC’s new show, The Player, encases Wesley Snipes on the outskirts of Las Vegas standing over a dead body. Yeah, that Wesley. Formerly known as Blade among other action hero roles, Snipes has taken his talent to the smaller screen in hopes of kicking the dust off a once strong career that got rerouted by ego, taxes and bad decisions. Does it work? Is this Thursday cheeseburger undercooked or decent tasting?

Yes and no. The show co-stars Philip Winchester(who just finished off Cinemax’s Strikeback) and pairs the two man up as two parts of an elaborate “game” where Vegas billionaires place bets on “true crime”. As Snipes’ character says when first uttered, “Be ready to not believe me when I say it.” It’s not a bad idea. True crime, predicted by gamblers, and being held in check by Snipes’ mystery man in a suit and another woman Cassandra who may have ties to Winchester’s security analyst. Winchester’s Alex is their “player”, a man who must prevent crime and other than the lives at stake, there is also a wager hanging over his adventures.

This show suffers from a ton of coincidence(things happening right in time and characters predictability) and far fetched plot. It’s a show you have to buy into if you are going to like it. It also depends on the likability of Winchester, a man trained in the theater who folks may only know from the relatively underwatched Strikeback series which just concluded. He is new to network television and given a large chunk of this pie to eat. It may also depend if you like Snipes, who is the cover man for the show, the face you will see on posters and ads.

While flawed, The Player is entertaining in parts and sets up a riddle at the end of its pilot that may suck you in for a couple more hours. Is this show going to get picked up or last past 10 episodes? It’s so hard to tell. It doesn’t do anything particularly well or present a new premise but it’s got decent action and Vegas behind it.

Like it’s main face, Snipes, The Player is fun to look at but you question its longevity and ultimate goal. Is he enough? Can the thin plot hold our attention and will Winchester be anything more than a muscled hero to get behind? Lots of questions that 42 minutes can’t answer. I will tell you this. Next Thursday, I will be watching. Will you?

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