TV series review: "Playmakers" (2003).
Starring cast of ESPN's "Playmakers".
Most people that are familiar with the network ESPN, know that the network primarily covers sports. In the year 2003, ESPN debuted it's first original drama series created by the network. The drama series titled, "Playmakers" consisted of eleven episodes, and ran from August 26-November 11, 2003. Playmakers was a football based series that followed the on and off the field lives of a fictional professional football team. Playmakers is one of the best drama series that I've ever watched. In this article I'm going to talk a bit about the show, and give my thoughts on why I liked it so much. I'll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum for those who have yet to see the show, and may be interested in watching it in the future.
Omar Gooding as Demetrius "D.H." Harris.
Synopsis and starring characters.
ESPN's "Playmakers" depicted the story of a fictional football team known only as "The Cougars". The city where the team was from is never mentioned. However, the cities of opponents the Cougars faced were given. The show focused primarily on various characters off the field problems. The football itself is shown and is a focal point of the show, but it takes a backdrop to the drama aspect of the show. This makes the show easier for a wider audience to watch. Playmakers starred: Omar Gooding, Tony Denison, Russell Hornsby, Jason Matthew Smith, Marcello Thedford, and Christopher Wiehl. Now that we know some of the starring actors, lets get into the characters they play.
- Tony Denison as Coach Mike George: Mike George is the head coach and leader of the Cougars. He is generally viewed as an honorable and stand up individual, but faces constant pressure to do what the team owner wants. Later on in the series, Coach George has some health related issues.
- Omar Gooding as Running back Demetrius "D.H." Harris: Harris the the teams young and flashy star running back. Harris is overall a fairly likable guy, but has serious issues stemming from drug use. He is also torn between his loyalty to the team, and his loyalty to his street minded friends.
- Russell Hornsby as Running back Leon Taylor: Taylor is the Cougars veteran running back. Being one of the oldest players on the team, Taylor is constantly fighting to prove he can still play the game. He is in constant competition with Demetrius Harris. Taylor is shown as the family man on the show, and later deals with a family domestic issue.
- Marcello Thedford as Offensive lineman, Kelvin "Buffalo" James: Buffalo James is an offensive lineman for the Cougars. He has a friendship with Demetrius Harris, and often finds himself in trouble because of Harris. James later deals with a personal health issue of his own as the series carries on.
- Jason Matthew Smith as Linebacker, Eric Olcyzk: Olcyzk is a linebacker for the Cougars, and the teams defensive leader. He is friends with running back Leon Taylor, and is one of the nicer guys on the team. However, like the other characters, Olcyzk also has problems of his own. Olcyzk is dealing with mental health issues from paralyzing another player from a hit. He also deals with family related issues that involves his father, which stems from an incident that happened when Olcyzk was a youth.
- Christopher Wiehl as Quarterback, Derek McConnell: McConnell is the team's starting quarterback, and is a womanizing ladies man on the show. Throughout the series, McConnell has issues with pain management from constantly taking hits. He faces a paternity situation later on in the series.
The show had recurring characters that were interesting as well. Some of them included: Leon Taylor's wife, Robin Taylor played by Karen LeBlanc, Cougars team owner, Gene Wilbanks played by Bruce Gray, offensive lineman, Guard Dog Fredericks played by Gabriel Hogan, Sasha Roiz as offensive coordinator, Steve Lyles, and Dan Petronijevic as wide receiver, Thad Guerwitcz.
Cancellation of Playmakers.
Season one of Playmakers ended with a cliffhanger. The ending left fans wondering what happened, and highly anticipating a second season. Unfortunately Playmakers didn't make it to a second season. The National Football League(NFL) felt like the show depicted professional football in a negative light. This led to increasing pressure put on ESPN to cancel the series. Being that ESPN was airing Sunday Night Football at the time, they chose to cancel Playmakers after only one season. I'm sure that it really wasn't that hard of a choice since the NFL obviously generated more money and more viewers. The show apparently wasn't too popular with real NFL players either. Baltimore Ravens linebacker, Ray Lewis was quoted saying; "I don't want my kids watching that stuff on TV". The cancellation angered a lot of fans(myself included), and led to a number of petitions online for the show to be picked up by another network. This never happened.
I feel like this show had a lot of potential to go far. It could easily be viewed as being a soap-opera for men in some peoples eyes. However, I feel like this is a show that women would enjoy as well. I honestly hated to see this show end, but I guess everything ends eventually. Even if it's prematurely. I purchased this series as soon as it came out on DVD. I recall seeing it at Wal-Mart in the $5 stack of DVD's awhile back. Not sure if it's still available, but it wouldn't hurt to look if you're interested. It would have been great if we could have seen more story lines that expanded on the characters on this show. I highly recommend this series to anyone who is a fan of great dramas. Like I mentioned before, it's more than just about football. This show delves deep into what a lot of professional athletes in general battle. It shows the side that a lot of them that many don't want the world to see. Thanks for reading.