Young Rock

3 out of 5

Created by:  Nahnatchka Khan and Jeff Chiang

covers season 1

This exceeds almost solely due to the charm of its star – Dwayne Johnson. I mean, he’s not even the main star, not really, and so that sounds like I’m pish-poshing the many, many great actors who populate this pretty conceptually crowded show, but the point remains: with Johnson as sort of a host to flashbacks to different decades of his life – 10 years old in 1982, 15 in 1987, late teens in 1990, each taking turns as the focuses of episodes – his warm presence kicks the otherwise standard-sitcom-stuff up a notch. Even though this is a fictionalized representation of his life (told to us from the future, when Johnson is running for president and relating these stories during interviews or debates – crowded, like I said), the man’s charm as a storyteller, and the way the writing matches his natural voice, makes us want to listen, and identifies all the actors playing him and his friends and family throughout the years as actual Hims and Friends and Family. (Extra heartwarming points when his actual mother shows up, you emotionally manipulative bastards.)

While Johnson’s tales often involve him making mistakes, nothing here is going to tarnish the dude’s image or surprise us: we’re in for a moral lesson by the end, and surely any harsh edges or things that might be too real to deal with are toned down for a nice, TV-PG flow.

Predictable, and really not a laugh out loud show, but wholly watchable, and imbued with The Rock’s charm. Of course, the flipside to that: if you aren’t partial to the dude, this is his nice guy shtick all over, and so the show ain’t likely to change your opinion.