17 January 2019 | Better_TV
(Somewhat) Unfairly Maligned
This show is, on the whole, not as bad as everyone says. But those who tout its unimpeachable brilliance are a bit off, too -- there's some real stinkers in this series, especially in the later seasons.
As a sports comedy it's usually pretty fun, with plenty of cameos from real athletes and personalities. There's also plenty of made-up characters -- agents, coaches, managers, players, and more, all zipping around a cutthroat, cynical world that's clearly meant as a dig at the profession's sickening sunshine-y portrayal in "Jerry Maguire."
The show is at its weakest when it's focusing on its amoral characters' disgusting sex lives. Arliss himself, played by Robert Wuhl, also might be off-putting to some: he's an obsessive optimist, willing to do whatever he can for his clients. And the show too often undermines any genuine sympathy you might have for the characters by immediately jump cutting to over-the-top punchlines.
But when it's funny, it's pretty darn funny. Focus on the first couple seasons; season 1 highlights include "Athletes Are Role Models," featuring a goody two-shoes Christian footballer who takes a bite of the serpent's fruit, played by Rick Johnson; "The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of" with Ken Howard as a washed up baseball icon; and "Negotiating: It's Never Personal," which has an all-around great cast including George Wallace and Michael Fairman, with a great storyline to boot.
The show is readily available on HBO's on-demand and streaming platforms. Worth a watch, if only to seek out the really good episodes.