The Player: Tell – Game, Set, Dangling Mystery (Review)

There must be a special hell for those TV shows cancelled before the dangling plot line is sorted. The Player is another victim of network stupidity.

The Player - Season 1

There must be a special hell for those TV shows cancelled before the dangling plot line is sorted. The Player is another victim of network stupidity. Tell, the last ever episode of the series leaves questions unanswered and the mystery of Ginny left unsolved, it is not game, set and match, but just game over, like a last generation video gamer who failed to stop the “big boss,” the player is dead.

The final episode of the series,  shed light on a number of  interwoven plot threads that proved just how much effort had gone into this Las Vegas based “crime/action/thriller.” Sadly, viewers and fans of the show will never learn of what the tangible connection is between Cassandra King (Charity Wakefield), apart from the fact that Mr. Johnson (Wesley Snipes) first came into contact with his “dealer” when he was “the player” and not yet pit boss.

Alex Kane (Philip Winchester) loses his “get out of jail free card” and best friend Cal Brown (Damon Gupton) and discovers that there are more layers yet to be discovered about his missing wife Ginny (Daisy Betts).  Even capturing the “villain of the week” Jeff Fahey (as a bent copper who “disappeared” Ginny at her request) answers little about her decision to drop out and fans will now never know who those men were who so terrified Ginny.

KaDee Strickland (as Agent Rose Nolan) proved to be every bit as evil, and dirty, as Brown suspects Johnson and his little crew are. Detective Brown, at the end of the show understands that he has danced with the devil and feels like a sad virgin who got involved with the wrong man.

The Player - Season 1
Charity Wakefield as Cassandra King, dangerous, deadly and sexy as hell…

Wakefield, as Cassandra King, continues to shine as the most interesting of the two members of the “game.”  The dealer proves to be more than equal to Nolan’s bullying, and illegal, questioning and leaves unbroken, unbowed and with more information  than Nolan realizes.

Winchester’s “player” continues to prove that if anyone were ever born to play this type of role, it the the Montana born actor who earned his action man spurs on shows like Strike Back and Camelot.

The Player had the deck stacked against it from the very beginning, put in a bad time slot on a night where its targeted audience was tuning into live sports offered on other channels.  Apart from scheduling stupidity, the show also seems to have suffered from the “Las Vegas Curse.”

Wesley Snipes and co are not the first to be stricken by the Vegas blight that has affected many other shows set in the city of sin and glitter. Apart from Vega$ (starring Robert Ulrich and Phyllis Davis, along with Hollywood icon Tony Curtis as a recurring character) a 1978 series that lasted three seasons, and the  2003 James Caan  vehicle that lasted five whole seasons, (Las Vegas) all that followed after have died quick messy network deaths. 

Even the SyFy channel’s Dominion (filmed in South Africa but set in a post apocalyptic Vegas) died after three seasons.  It seems that while many yearn to visit the oasis in the Nevada desert, no one really wants to watch a television series set there.  Somewhat akin to the unwritten rule that films and TV shows about actors never do well, shows set in Vegas are not overly popular.

The Player - Season 1
Snipes as Pit Boss…

It could even boil down to a reluctance of viewers to appreciate a small-screen Wesley Snipes. Apart from a 1990s TV series (H.E.L.P.) where Snipes was a “regular,” the film actor’s forays into the smaller world of television have been few.  Unfortunately, the star will not have a chance to grow into his role of pit boss and shady character since NBC have killed the series off after nine episodes.

By the time end credits rolled on the last  episode of The Player, it was apparent that this series should have been allowed to finish its first season properly and then been optioned for another, second season.  NBC seem to specialize in green lighting properties that they have no real faith in and no loyalty to.

RIP The Player and condolences to Damon Gupton, Charity Wakefield, Philip Winchester and Wesley Snipes in the cast and  to the show’s creators, the two “Johns,” Fox and Rogers.  Kudos to Gupton who actually moved this viewer for the first time in the season.  So long guys and dolls you did well and do not deserve this too early death from a nebbish network.


Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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