Big Shot

3 out of 5

Created by: David E. Kelley, Dean Lorey and Brad Garrett

covers season 1

Rough-edged pro basketball coach has to rehab his public persona by taking over a girl’s high school basketball team. The coach – Marvyn Korn; a delightfully TV name – is played by a charming John Stamos. The show is distributed by Disney. You can sorta sketch out the rest from there, right?

And yeah, you absolutely can sketch out the overall story arc – with Korn learning to appreciate his team and his team coming to accept him as their coach, and everyone learning life lessons along the way, via relatively harmless humor and unchallenging drama – but Big Shot deals us a nice hand of seasoned creators and directors (including David E. Kelley, Dean Lorey, Ron Underwood) who seem to grant the show episodic competence that exceeds its predictable flow, and a very strong cast of both adults and kids, who all hit the right tonal marks to keep their characters amusing and tolerable throughout. Stamos is perhaps the stiffest of the bunch, but it’s a good fit for Korn, and his growth throughout the season is played out at a good pace, never quite betraying his cranky coach charm while also making room for the notes of warmth and understanding he starts to display. The support staff surely helps out, though: assistant coach Holly (Jessalyn Gilsig) is a well written balance to Korn, and Yvette Nicole Brown as the school principal is, as always, amazing.

The young actors all shine, spread across the archetype spectrum of popular kid; mousey kid; bumble-headed kid; and etc., but as with Stamos’ role, they’re written with enough room for the actors to imbue them with enough depth, and their various arcs all appropriately spaced out across the ten episodes.

What helps push the show over the line to being entertaining, as opposed to merely time-passingly tolerable, is the equal weight it gives to both the adult and teen points of view, catering effectively to both types of audiences. Disneyfied for all of them, surely, but sitting in a comfortable spot between being a kids’ show or being a parents’ show, and thus acting exactly as the type of get-the-family-together show Disney occasionally scores with.