Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Now on HBO: The Deuce (2017)

The Deuce (2017) - Created by George Pelecanos, David Simon; Starring James Franco, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Gary Carr, Dominique Fishback, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Margarita Levieva, Emily Meade, Method Man, Daniel Sauli, Kayla Foster, Don Harvey, David Krumholtz, Ralph Maccio, Zoe Kazan.

By Kenny Howell

In the third and fourth seasons of The Wire, the world that David Simon and George Pelecanos had built had become so expansive that it wasn't just about the characters anymore, it was about the world as a whole.

There were so many characters, yet you never felt short shrifted on time spent with them. Everyone was so rounded, even if you only got five minutes a week.

It's something that Game of Thrones has tried to do, but I don't think they have had as much success.

If The Wire built the characters in the first seasons and expanded into that world, The Deuce just plops you right down into it. It feels as if it is building something special over the first few episodes, as we are dropped into 1970s New York when things were quite rough. Pimps, prostitutes and drugs littered the city in areas that are now tourist traps filled with Lego stores and Guy Fieri restaurants. We meet several characters in that area, and when I say several I really do mean several. A bar owner getting into business with the mob to open some new businesses. A prostitute who gets tired of working the streets and steps into the burgeoning porn industry. A beautiful young girl arrives in the city from Minnesota and meets up with a pimp. Numerous pimps trying to hold on to their lifestyle. Cops trying to keep it under control, as well as their own corruption.

It really is impressive how Pelecanos and Simon are able to build so worlds effectively, and The Deuce has a solid, promising first season, bolstered by some great performances led by Maggie Gyllenhaal. The plan is to jump ahead six or seven years for the second season, so it will be interesting to see how the focus changes from one season to the next. If the first season is any indication, it could be expansive and wondrous.

The first season of The Deuce is now available on HBO Go and HBO Now.

Rating: ***1/2

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