I miss the good old days of HBO. It`s been a while since we have had anything near the quality & entertainment levels of The Sopranos or Entourage. The likes of AMC`s The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad & Better Call Saul and Starz hit series Power have seen the limelight shared somewhat. However The Deuce, created by George Pelecanos & David Simon(The Wire) and starring Maggie Gylenhall and James Franco is a return to the pinnacle of dramatic TV for HBO.
Picture Credits: HBO
Set against the backdrop of 1970`s New York, it`s characters are pimping, hustling and struggling to make it out of the ghetto anyway they can. Franco plays brothers Frankie & Vincent, Frankie the barman being the more honest of the two characters but equally as complex and capable of changing things up. As Vincent, a happy go lucky gambler, Franco is able to perform a really good alternative character while also not straying from the plot in order to do so. Margarita Levieva stars as Abby, a dropout student who decides to leave her privileged background to experience the world, which has its consequences.
Maggie Gylenhall puts in a superb performance as Candy, a "street worker" without a Pimp who want`s to get out of the streets and get behind the camera. Fans of the Wu-Tang clan will be happy to see Clifford Smith aka Method Man joining the cast as a Pimp by the name of Rodney. Michael Rispoli(Jackie Aprile in The Sopranos) plays the respected gangster Rudy Pipilo, and it`s great to see him back on the screen and adding to what is a great cast. Lawrence Gilliard Jr(Bob in The Walking Dead) plays Officer Chris Alston who struggles to understand the politics of his job & the City in which he works and lives. One of the best things about HBO is it`s ability to produce characters that surprise us when taken out of their comfort zone, and The Deuce looks set to continue in that unpredictable style.
Despite initial reservations about the ability of Franco to pull off playing 2 characters (we considered it as Franco Overkill) he does a superb job of bringing us 2 characters each with their own reasons for the audience to like, or dislike, them. As this latest offering from HBO gathers momentum, it will be hugely enjoyable to see how the series unfolds, and if HBO are back to their best in story-telling drama as we suspect they are, it will be a rich, engaging & detailed journey.