A Star-Studded, Highly-Addictive Case-of-the-Week Series – Rolling Stone

long, long ago time, most tv’s are like poker facethe new peacock play by glass onionstarring ryan johnson russian dollNatasha Lyons. This is a purely episodic, weekly case show. Each episode has its own specific story, and Lyonne’s Charlie Cale finds a way to end it before the hour is over. There are some very loose ongoing threads, but in theory you could watch every episode but watch the first ones in any order and have the same enjoyment from each one.It’s a show that relies heavily on the appeal of its stars, and the ability of Johnson and the rest of the writers and directors to make each story so interesting that you’ll want to come back for more without any real hints To be continued.

For decades, that’s how television worked.then came electric wire, breaking Bad, game of ThronesWait, all of a sudden, this week’s case is out-of-date before we even know that TV could be better. Serialization is the new king, and what’s the point of each episode if it doesn’t somehow contribute to the larger story?

In many ways, television has benefited enormously from this shift. The best shows of this century have been able to aim higher, dig deeper, and provide an incredible edge through the sheer amount of time afforded by telling a single story about a group of characters over multiple years. But in other ways, we do lose something. Serialization has become as much of a formula as purely episodic stories used to be.Too many producers – whether they’re writers trying to extend the plot of a movie they can’t sell, or people who just learned all the wrong lessons from watching it The Sopranosor think it’s easy to copy breaking BadThe structure of – the false belief that an ongoing narrative is fundamentally interesting just because it lasts an entire season or series. Complexity is seen as a bonus for its own sake, not because it adds any value to the story being told. So we get these long, amorphous slurs of — “It’s a 10-hour movie!” — forgetting how to be entertained, because all they care about is the drive forward.

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Thank goodness Johnson, Leon and others involved in the production poker face. It deploys all the best elements from before, but in a way that makes the show feel thoroughly modern – like Knife out and glass onion Inspired by an Agatha Christie suspense novel rather than a dusty period piece.

We learn that Charlie was once an unrivaled poker player thanks to an unusual, essentially superhuman ability: She can always tell when someone is lying. Eventually, she ran afoul of the wrong people and is now working as a cocktail server at a Nevada casino, just trying to stay out of trouble. But as is often the case with shows like this, trouble inevitably keeps finding her, always in the form of murders that only she can solve because she knows the killer is full of trouble.

The format is a classic hybrid columbus Uncover the mystery, and Johnson’s approach to the Benoit Blanc film. For the first 10-15 minutes of each episode Charlie doesn’t have it, we meet the killers and their victims to see how and why the killings happen. Then the story reverses, showing how Charlie came to know the characters, before we finally let her figure out what happened, and the way to make the bad guys see justice – even though Charlie isn’t a cop, and in fact, has to stay out of the law, because the first The concentrated events make her a fugitive who must travel anonymously from town to town. (The only persistent factor is that, due to the events of the pilot episode, a casino enforcer played by Benjamin Bratt is hunting her down across the country, but even then, in the episodes given to critics, this Relatively small and uncommon.)

Lil Rel Howery as Taffy in “Poker Face.”


Each episode has a wildly varied background and variety of guest stars. On the one hand, she got a job at a Texas barbecue run by Lil Rel Howery; Longing for a comeback.

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Although in Lyon there is already a bit of Lieutenant Columbus of Peter Falk russian doll Performance, Charlie is a very different kind of personality: friendly and curious about the people and the world around her. It’s a captivating and successful performance, where she’s playing alongside Hong Chau (as the anti-social long-distance truck driver) or Ellen Barkin (as the TV star of the eighties, now performing at the Dinner Theatre).

Like the Blanc movie, this is a show that uses various parts of the buffalo. No matter how random a scene may seem—say, Charlie’s amusing encounter with a stranger by the trash can—it ultimately makes some sense to the plot. The whole thing is just too clever—including the many ways it manages to demonstrate the limitations of being a human lie detector—and it’s light on its feet.

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That is, because displays like poker face Having become so rare — or, at least, as well-executed as it is — there’s a risk of glorifying it too much. Like any melodrama, some episodes are stronger than others, especially in the Lyonne-less opening sequence. In episode five, for example, Judith Light and S. Epatha Merkerson play former Seventies revolutionaries who are now two of the toughest, meanest women in the retirement community. The combination of this premise and these great veteran actors is so powerful, I almost forgot I was waiting for Charlie. But the second episode, which involves three guys working the night shift at a store next to a truck stop, only really takes off when that familiar mop with strawberry blond hair comes into view. Even when she shows up, the occasional flashback sequence has you dying to see the part where Charlie starts poking holes in the killer’s story. (columbus Each episode is generally between 70 and 100 minutes long, so there’s plenty of time for Falk and the guest stars to interact; after the 67-minute debut episode, in which Charlie’s backstory and premise must be established, all other episodes are An hour or less, sometimes even less. )


But damn, it’s such a relief and a joy to see a TV show that really wants to be a TV show, and knows how to do it on such a high level. Johnson and Lyonne say they want to do poker face as long as possible. Hope they have a chance. This is great.

first four episodes poker face Begins January 26 on Peacock, with more episodes released weekly. I’ve seen the first 6 of the 10 episodes.


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