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Dwayne Johnson, Rob Corddry, John David Washington, Omar Benson Miller, Donovan W. Carter
Writing Credits:

A series centered around a group of football players and their families, friends, and handlers.

Not Rated

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS 2.0
French DTS 5.1
German DTS 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 358 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 6/14/16

• “Inside the Episodes” Featurettes


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Ballers: The Complete First Season [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 25, 2016)

With Ballers, we get a new HBO series that looks at life after sports for hotshot pro athletes. The Blu-ray includes all of Season One’s 10 episodes across two discs. The plot synopses come straight from the Blu-rays’ menus.

Pilot: “A retired football star named Spencer Strasmore (Dwayne Johnson) looks to forge a new career as financial manager to several current and former players in Miami.”

Like most opening episodes, “Pilot” devotes much of its energy to character introductions and exposition. Programs such as this tend to feel a bit stiff, and that’s the case here – though a cameo from some Dolphins legends amuses. The “Pilot” creates a decent framework – we’ll see where the series goes from here.

Raise Up: “Spencer tries to close a deal with Vernon (Donovan W. Carter); Ricky (John David Washington) chafes at practice; Charles (Omar Benson Miller) struggles to stay positive.”

Two episodes in and Ballers feels like a sports-based riff on Entourage. Is that good? Maybe, maybe not. “Raise” still sticks us with basic character development, so it doesn’t do a lot to entertain beyond that. I want to like the series but the first two shows leave me a little disenchanted.

Move the Chains: “Spencer’s rivalry with Reggie (London Brown) hits the boiling point; Ricky learns about an awkward connection to his teammate.”

“Chains” takes an unusual twist in that it focuses almost entirely on events at the party thrown by Spencer and his colleague Joe (Rob Corddry). Unfortunately, it fails to do much with that structure other than show a lot of hedonistic behavior. It doesn’t even move along the Reggie/Spencer conflict all that much, and this leaves it as a moderately entertaining but somewhat stagnant show.

Heads Will Roll: “Spencer takes a stand; Charles is pursued; Joe tries to bag a big client; Ricky attempts to mend a fence.”

“Heads” deepens some plot elements, but that doesn’t make it a great show. Still, it’s a bit more interesting than its lackluster predecessors, so perhaps it’ll send the series in the right direction.

Machete Charge: “Spencer steps in when Vernon is victimized; Charles's marriage is put to the test; Ricky tries to find common ground with Alonzo (Antoine Harris).”

With “Charge”, we stay in something of a holding pattern. Like “Heads”, the episode moves along story points, but also like “Heads”, it doesn’t quite lift the series into a higher gear.

Everything Is Everything: “Ricky and Spencer face their fears; Charles decides to be selfish for a day; Joe buddies up to cut a deal.”

Like the last couple of shows, “Everything” continues the series’ relative upward trajectory. I still don’t totally buy what it’s selling, but matters show improvements.

Ends: “Spencer and Charles say goodbye to Roddney; Ricky lashes out; Jason (Troy Garrity) meets him mom’s (Marlo Thomas) new boyfriend.”

I think my main issue with Ballers is that it’s not funny enough to be a good comedy and it’s not involving enough to be a good drama. Those tendencies emerge during the mediocre “Ends”, as it tries to serve both sides of that coin, and it falters in both ways.

Gaslighting: “Spencer faces his past to try to save Vernon; Charles puts his football skills to work; Ricky tries to win back Bella (Anabelle Acosta).”

As usual, “Gaslighting” comes with some decent elements, but the show’s soap opera vibe causes it to lose some points. I get that episode TV tends toward melodrama, as the programs have to go with overt drama, but I think Ballers could’ve opted more for laughs.

Head-On: “Spencer tries to make amends; Charles gets some news; Joe feels slighted at work.”

With the season close to its end, “Head-On” tries to wrap up some story points. It does so with reasonable efficiency, if not with a ton of entertainment value. This becomes a serviceable show that doesn’t do a lot to push me toward the final episode.

Flamingos: “Spencer faces a major decision; Ricky is confronted by his dad; Charles gets a second chance.”

I expected something of a cliffhanger from “Flamingos” – or at least material that points us toward the second season. Perhaps those involved weren’t sure they’d get another year, as “Flamingos” ties up matters more tightly than I anticipated.

Because the various events that lead to the season finale never became all that interesting, “Flammingos” lacks a lot of drama or intrigue. I never cared that much about the characters, so it doesn’t mean much for me to see how matters resolve. This becomes an adequate conclusion to a fairly mediocre series.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

Ballers appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Across the board, the shows looked attractive.

Sharpness was usually solid. A few wider shots showed a little softness, but those instances remained minor. Instead, the majority of the movie seemed accurate and concise. I saw no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes remained absent. Source flaws were a non-factor, as I witnessed no specks, marks or other debris.

Colors were good. The series opted for a fairly amber palette and the Blu-ray replicated these tones in an appealing manner. Black levels were appropriately deep, and shadows seemed clear and well-rendered. Across the board, the visuals proved to be pleasing.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack suited the shows pretty well but won't win any awards. The soundstage appeared nicely broad at the appropriate times and could be moderately engulfing on occasion.

It's a talky little series, so the focus was mainly up front, but the audio expanded when necessary. This occurred mostly via gentle environmental ambience, so the surrounds didn’t have a lot to do. That said, the imaging made sense for the story, and parties/bars/etc. added some zip to the proceedings.

Sound quality seemed fine. Dialogue always appeared crisp and natural, and I had no trouble understanding it. The low-key music that acted as the score was warm and distinctive. Effects also seemed realistic and adequate for the tasks at hand. Ballers won't be anyone's demo track, but it worked well for the series.

All 10 shows come with Inside the Episode featurettes. In total, these fill 28 minutes, 51 seconds with notes from writer/executive producer Evan Reilly and actors Dwayne Johnson, Rob Corddry, London Brown, John David Washington, Troy Garity, Omar Benson Miller, and Jazmyn Simon. “Inside” examines story/character areas. These programs tend to just explain the episodes and they lack much in the way of insight.

Though it attempts to balance drama and comedy, Ballers does neither genre particularly well. Season One entertains enough to keep the viewer with it through 10 shows, but it never threatens to turn into anything better than average. The Blu-ray provides fine picture and audio but it skimps on supplements. I’ll give Season Two a look when it arrives, but I can’t claim I really look forward to it

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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