‘The Ranch’ Season One Part Two: Gone as a Girl Can Get (Review)

Sam Elliot and Barry Corbin in The Ranch

The Ranch, season one part two  has started on Netflix.  It picks up where part one left off, Abby has told Colt that she is not sure that marrying Kenny is the right thing to do and Maggie is still gone. Two of the Bennett men have “girl” trouble and even worse, the show still feels uneven and unfunny.

Sam Elliott (a personal favorite) still feels like he is in a different show.  Kutcher and Masterson both act like they are re-creating their roles from That ’70’s Show and veteran character actor Barry Corbin is the only one of the cast who can bridge the gap.

There are so many things wrong with this series that it is hard to imagine Netflix bringing it back.  Shot on a set, rather than on-location, the format feels as fake as Bonanza used to once audiences became more sophisticated.

The Ranch could still work despite the feeling that we are watching a badly written play.  However the humor is forced and stale. Perhaps it comes across better to people who work in that demographic. Ranch hands, or cowboys may be “splitting a gut.”

Sadly the whole thing still feels off and despite trying to be a dramedy, the show misses any chance to work honest emotion.  When Beau cries at the end of the episode, one feels that it is really Sam Elliott shedding those tears for agreeing to come back to this mess.

Normally, when watching someone like Beau, a real old fashioned sort of “man’s man,” trying to ignore the tears spilling down his cheeks, a lump the size of Texas will hit the old throat.  This time, however, Beau’s pain is disregarded by the series’ writers and the director.

Beau grits out, “Am I that hard to live with?”  Rooster answers back with bland one-liners that are supported by a laugh track. (This may not be pre-recorded laughter but it certainly feels like it.)

The answer is obvious. Of course he is.  Part one set that up.  Because Bennett is an old fashioned type of guy.  He is unbending and finds it hard to reach out or even express himself freely.

It is why Colt left to begin with and why Maggie has left him again. Beau may be coming to a realization too late that he is now reaping what he spent a lifetime sowing.

He is resistant to change and says so when Dale stops by to vaccinate the calves.

Colt is still on the fence about Abby and by the end of the episode, despite her deciding to marry Kenny, lock lips on her porch. Unfortunately this was signposted so prominently in the episode it comes as no surprise.

We have, in fact, been aware that this relationship was going to be rekindled from part one of the Ranch. This is just one of the examples of how the series is all too predictable.

Of course the main problem is that the show tries to combine comedy with drama in a ham-fisted fashion.  Using vapid and dated one-liners to sell the humor against the very real portrayal of a man having more than his fair share of hard times.

Elliott is the very picture of gravitas in any role he plays.  He is the odd man out here. (Just as three time Oscar nominee Debra Winger is the odd woman out.)  Two fine actors who deliver more often than not.

Unfortunately the hackneyed humor detracts from their performances. The jokes are like those horrid and unfunny gags pulled on The Grand Ole Opry; stale and uncomfortable. The kind of comedy that gets the odd chuckle and an urge for the performer to stop messing about and just sing.

The first episode of The Ranch Part Two  is still struggling to entertain.  Like a clumsy dance partner the show is treading on the audience’s toes and expecting them to laugh about it.

The Ranch is streaming on Netflix at the moment. All 10 episode are available to watch in one go, or two.


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