10 August 2000 | Movie-12
A production I would consider viewing on a weekly basis. ***1/2 (out of four)
BULL / (2000) ***1/2 (out of four)
It is so difficult these days to find involving, thought-provoking television programming. Far too many programs feature shallow characters, disposable stories, and a wasteful cast; in our present generation TV has become a tool to reduce boredom instead of enriching audience's lives and portraying their culture. Turner Network Television (TNT) will launch their first-ever dramatic series in August and has ordered thirteen episodes of the one-hour long production. I do not watch much television, but "Bull" is one array that I definitely would consider viewing on a weekly basis. The show is interesting, dramatic, and offers more artistic merit and fine performances than most sitcoms can dream about.
"Bull" details the choice of several Wall Street investment bankers to break away from a financial firm in order to start their own business. There is Robert "Ditto" Roberts III (George Newbern), who is used to being treated with spoiled tactics and generous income because his enormously wealthy grandfather, "The Kaiser"(Donald Moffat), owns his previous company. Carson Boyd (Christopher Wiehl), laid off recently at the firm and his open to any new developments that will provide his family with steady income. Marissa Rufo (Alicia Coppola) just resigned from the big-time firm because she is tired of the moguls hurting others for the cash they already obtain. Also Alison Jeffers (Elisabeth Rohm) and Corey Granville (Malik Yoba), who risk everything in order to join "Ditto" on his quest for new ideas.
Dialogue is what this production is all about; many of the characters just stroll around in office buildings, so what they say had better be interesting. It is. The writers provide the characters with sufficient intelligence making the dialogue smart, decisive, edgy, and it clearly defines the culture in which the characters inhabit.
The characters are vividly detailed through convincing dialogue, actions, subplots, and relationships; the individuals here are free to explore their territory and examine their material by contributing more than it has to offer. There are several subplots offering variety and help to propel the story along smoothly.
When we think of good performances, normally that means there is a combination of good casting and a solid, convincing actor portraying a character. "Bull" contains ethical acting throughout. Donald Moffat is probably one of the more effective performers here, with his alluring personality and devious arrogance that brings his corporate tycoon to life in many perspectives. George Newbern furnishes his character his enthusiasm and eccentricity. Alicia Coppola is believably panicked and stressed over personal matters that are not yet explored. Christopher Wiehl is perfect for his grief stricken role.
Arrogant investment bankers are not usually the type of characters audiences are likely to sympathize with, but "Bull" offers a wide variety of relateable characters, one who will surely make contact with the feelings of an audience. "We have six completely different characters; everybody can relate to at least one of them," explains producer Michael S. Chernuchin in the press notes. To some extent he is in the fault when placing such a variance of characters all over the board, assuring the production will not miss because the targets are accustomed. However, there is a central motivation here, which justifies the production's actions. It will be interesting to see if this series will flourish or bomb, but being the timely, smart spectacle that it is, my money is on its success.