Tv Review: Hoops Season 1 Episode 1

hoops s01e01 indexNetflix has a pretty strong hit rate when it comes to animated comedy, I’m very fond of the show’s star Jay Johnson, and it’s created by Ben Hoffman of The Ben Show fame, a series that I rave about to this day even though it only lasted ten episodes and was cancelled due to barely anyone watching it. So due to all of the above I was cautiously optimistic that I’d be fond of Hoops, and it certainly starts well with Ben (Johnson), the coach of the school basketball team, losing it big time, swearing in a nicely amusing manner, and its inventive crassness made me laugh a fair bit.

But then the narrative kicks in and alas it becomes less fun, as Headmistress Opal (Cleo King) warns Ben that his career’s over if the team don’t show improvement at the game on the weekend, and the two bicker in an annoying manner. We also learn that Ben’s father, Barry Hopkins (Rob Riggle), was a professional player who’s crap at coaching, and Ben thinks they can win if he can get a kid called Matty (A.D. Miles) play because he’s seven foot tall, but Matty has no interest in basketball and so will only join the team if Ben can come through on his promise to get him laid, because they sure do like throwing in a sod load of exposition right at the beginning it seems.

As well as far too much plot in too short a time, another issue is that boy is Hoffman fond of the word “Fuck”, I am too as it goes but I couldn’t help but wish that the swearing was a little more imaginative. The rest of the episode is almost the definition of the phrase a mixed bag as well, a scene where Ben chats casually with fellow teacher Ron (Ron Funches) is tiresome and contains a really bloody lazy reveal where after a long, embarrassing chat it turns out there’s a class full of students listening in, but the next one sees Ben talk to a friend of his who happens to be a prostitute and tries to get her to have sex with Matty for eight five dollars, and which sees the show back on form as it contains some very funny daftness with Ben outraged at her pricing system.

Also fairly fun is a bit where the kids are horrified by the idea of Ben being fired if only because they know they’d not be able to play on a team if they had a proper coach, but then the show becomes naff again as Ben begs his Dad for money, and we learn that his father’s a twat in a tedious and unfunny manner. Ben then begs his ex-wife Shannon (Natasha Leggero) to lend him the cash, and eh, it’s weak once again, even if an ongoing gag about Little Man Tate is vaguely amusing.

The rest of the episode follows this pattern, and is largely a mixture of the amusingly crass and the tediously bland, with the ending annoyingly being especially disappointing as Ben’s petulant man-child gives another, far less funny speech, it’s perhaps not as predictable as I thought it’d be but it’s lacking in anything that amusing. All of which is rather frustrating as it’s a show that I want to like more than I do, every so often there’s a killer line or very funny moment, but the very, very uneven level of quality means it’s a series that I can’t really recommend unless you really don’t mind lowest common denominator fare.

★★3/4

Alex Finch.
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