"Connecting On and Off the Court"
What You Need To Know:
Starring John Stamos, the first three episodes of BIG SHOT provide highly engaging, captivating, well-acted drama and humor. The scripts are well constructed and directed. They mix exciting sports drama with compelling and appealing relationships. The first three episodes have multiple moral themes about the proper training of teenagers for success and building stronger parent-child relationships. However, each episode has brief, relatively light foul language. Also, three lines in two episodes mention one teenage girl’s supposed crush on another girl. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children for the first three episodes of BIG SHOT.
BIG SHOT is a new TV drama streaming on Disney+ where a volatile college basketball coach loses his job and ends up coaching a high school girls basketball team at a girls prep school in La Jolla, California, while getting a chance to reconnect with his daughter when she comes to stay with him. Starring John Stamos, the first three episodes of BIG SHOT provide some highly engaging, compelling drama and humor, with morally uplifting themes about the proper training of teenagers and building stronger parent-child relationships, but brief foul language occurs in each episode and three lines in two episodes mention one teenage girl’s crush on another girl, so MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children.
To get a feel for the new series, MOVIEGUIDE® screened the first three episodes of BIG SHOT, which Disney made available to reviewers before the series opens on April 16.
In the pilot episode, the basketball coach, Marvyn Korn, gets angry at a referee’s call and throws a chair onto the court. The chair accidently hits a referee in the back and knocks him down. As Marvyn drives down a California road with palm trees, another scene shows him with his agent, who tells him the only job he can get Marvyn is a job to coach a high school basketball team at a private prep school for girls in La Jolla, Calif.
Marvyn parks in the school parking lot. Inside the school, he makes his way through a crowded sea of teenage girls in the halls, to the main office to see the Principal, Sherilyn Thomas. She tells Marvyn she only hired him because the school’s biggest benefactor, Larry Gruzinsky, asked her to hire him. Also, Mr. Gruzinsky’s daughter, Louise, just happens to be the basketball team’s star player. Principal Thomas warns Marvyn, Don’t mess this up!
Marvyn meets his assistant coach, an attractive blonde woman named Holly. He asks Holly for advice on handling girls. Holly tells him to be honest with them and not to go out of his way to tangle with them. When he meets the girls on the team, however, his no-nonsense attitude annoys them. In fact, he seems to go out of his way to annoy them. One of the girls, another blond, is chewing gum. Marvyn starts to confront her, but she starts making light jokes while advising him to treat the girls with respect. Marvyn learns that the girl is Louise Gruzinsky, the daughter of the rich benefactor and the star of the team. Louise makes another joke, and Marvyn decides to bench her for the team’s first game. Will he sticks by his guns when the game is on the line?
In the second episode, Marvyn gets upset that, instead of taking a shot in the second game the girls play for him, one of the girls passes it to the team’s star prayer, Louise. He wants the girls to play as a team. He reminds them, that though they won the game by 16 points, the team they beat isn’t very good. The goal, he says, is to beat teams that are better than your team, and the way you do that is to play unselfishly, as a team. So, he orders them to start doing morning practices before school again as well as afternoon practices after school. “If you’re 10 minutes early, you’re late,” he says, repeating a line from his first day of coaching them.
Meanwhile, Marvyn’s ex-wife gets a lucrative offer from Italy for a year-long job. His daughter, Emma, misses her father and wants to take the opportunity to stay with him in California. Marvyn is reluctant at first, but then agrees.
As the basketball team prepares for its first big opponent, Miss Grint, one teacher for three of Marvyn’s players, objects to the fact that Marvyn is making the girls practice every morning before school and every afternoon after school. She points out to Principal Thomas that the teachers are limited in the amount of homework they can give the students, so why should the basketball coach demand more time from his players? Clearly, Miss Grint doesn’t welcome Marvyn’s presence on campus. Neither does the school’s male counselor, who sides with her. Marvyn thinks he can circumvent the teacher’s attempt to limit his time with the players, but she turns out to be a tougher opponent than he thought.
In the third episode, after a great victory against their toughest opponent yet, Coach Marvyn informs his players during morning practice that he thinks they’re ready to move from Division 3 in high school basketball to Division 2. It will mean they’ll have to work even harder and face the possibility of more losses, but it will be worth it.
Later, a reporter from the student paper tries to get some dirt from the players about Coach Marvyn. Meanwhile, Marvyn goes to pick up his daughter, Emma, at the airport. Emma is chagrined, however, to find out that her father lives in a hotel and expects her to live there too. In a funny scene, he describes how good living in a hotel can be. Hotels cook and serve you food, wash the dishes, clean your clothes, and then send little elves, aka hotel housekeepers, to change the sheets on your bed and clean your room.
After dropping Emma off at the hotel, Marvyn goes back to work at the school. So, Emma takes the opportunity before she begins classes at Marvyn’s school the next day to look at places in the area to rent. She finds a nice little ranch house for rent and takes a picture of it on her smartphone. As she does, Lucas, a nice-looking teenage boy wearing swim trunks and carrying a surfboard, stops to talk to her. He jokes with her about getting married, living in the house and having children. Emma surreptitiously takes a picture of him, but Lucas catches her doing it. She explains that her friends back home won’t believe it when she tells them she met a guy who looks like he just stepped out of an ad for surfboards. He laughs, and Emma tells him maybe she’ll see him around sometime. “I hope so,” he replies as she leaves.
During afternoon practice, Marvyn asks the players at practice to be nice to Emma the next day at school. On her first day, Emma feels self-conscious because the school uniform her father ordered for her didn’t arrive yet. Three girls in uniform, none of them on the basketball team, make fun of her not wearing a uniform.
The first class Emma attends is Miss Grint’s class. Miss Grint is teaching the girls about bond issues used to pay for schools, parks, roads, etc. She adds that sometimes the bonds are used to pay for football and basketball stadiums. Miss Grint makes no secret of her hostility toward this practice, even if it includes high school or college stadiums. After raising her hand and getting recognized, Emma says she agrees with Miss Grint about using bond issues for sports stadiums and even paying high salaries for school coaches. On the other hand, Emma notes, many school athletic programs bring lots of funding into schools as well as communities. Emma also notes that her dad’s college teams won several major basketball championships and tournaments. Adding insult to injury, Emma suggests that perhaps this is why some school athletic coaches earn so much more money than teachers.
Cut to Emma sitting in the Principal’s office. Principal Thomas tells Emma it wasn’t smart to challenge Miss Grint like that, even if she was attacking her father. Are you going to fight every person who attacks your father? she asks. Principal Thomas tells Emma she has some school uniforms put aside for when fathers of her students forget to buy their daughters’ school uniform in time.
At lunch, Emma has become the hero among the basketball players for challenging Miss Grint. Emma fits right in with them, even when one of the players blurts out that Coach Marvyn asked them to help her.
Back at the hotel that night, Marvyn is late returning from work. Emma wants to go out to eat at a restaurant and explore La Jolla, but Marvyn says he’s got some game footage to watch. It becomes clear that night and the next day that Marvyn is avoiding spending time with Emma. Assistant Coach Holly tells him privately that maybe he’s afraid of failing his daughter. Just then, Marvyn gets some sad family news that changes the personal dynamic with his daughter and brings them closer together.
The first three episodes of BIG SHOT provide lots of highly engaging, captivating drama, laced with some good humor. The scripts are very well constructed, intertwining some exciting sports drama with compelling and appealing personal relationships that evolve, not only relationships between teachers or coaches and players but also relationships between fathers and daughters. Regarding the latter, not only does the third episode have some dramatic but touching moments between Coach Marvyn and his daughter, there are also some dramatic moments between the basketball team’s star player, Louise, and her father, the major school donor who convinced the school principal to hire Coach Marvin. Louise’s father is anxious for his daughter to get a basketball scholarship from a top college. He thinks the way to do that is for Louise to score as many points as possible. However, Coach Marvyn has convinced Louise that she can actually become a truly great player if she learns how to be less selfish and make the players around her better. Marvyn helps her to see the benefits of this when he works with her individually on how to be a better passer. Since Marvyn’s instructions help Louise and the team decisively beat a major rival, they also seems to help improve Louise’s relationship with her own father. This example shows how well the writing in BIG SHOT integrates all the main plots and subplots in these three episodes. The acting and direction in the first three episodes help this. They are at a consistently, equally high level as the writing. It’s great, by the way, to see John Stamos, who plays Coach Marvyn, do a new meaty role in a TV program that just might stick around for a few years if Disney doesn’t mess up things.
The first three episodes have multiple moral themes about the proper training of teenagers for success and building stronger parent-child relationships. For example, Coach Marvyn uses tough love to connect, encourage and help the players on the girls basketball team. These scenes are at turns delightful, inspiring and even moving. Also, in Episode 3 Marvyn and his daughter, Emma, eventually build a stronger, closer relationship by going to a major family event and talking together. The female assistant coach, Holly, and one of the players help Marvyn here, but Emma also makes an effort. She just doesn’t sit on the sidelines. This is truly wonderful because it shows younger viewers watching this episode that, if teenagers want closer relationships with their parents, they don’t have to wait on their parents to make a move.
So far, BIG SHOTS has avoided dealing with more thorny, controversial issues having to do with teenagers and attending high school. Consequently, the first three episodes have a strong positive, morally uplifting worldview. Only one scene, however, has dealt with religion or faith. That scene is a funeral scene at a gravesite where the priest or pastor quotes the first part Psalm 23 about being led by “the Lord.” However, one line in Episode 1 and two lines in Episode 3 mention that one of the female basketball players seems to have a “crush” on another girl. So, at some point, the series might turn this minor subplot into a stronger, more politically correct theme. Despite this problem, although the third episode shows Emma being interested in Lucas, who happens to be Louise’s younger brother (Louise is older than Emma and some of the other basketball players), and Louise seems to have a boyfriend, the first three episodes have said nothing else about the romantic or sexual behavior of the teenage characters in the series.
Finally, each of the first three episodes of BIG SHOT have had some relatively light foul language. The number of obscenities and profanities has been limited to eight in Episode 3, six in Episode 2 and five in Episode 1.
All in all, therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children, Minus One, for the first three episodes of BIG SHOT on Disney+. This rating is for the foul language and the light references to the same sex crush of the one player.
Of course, MOVIEGUIDE® can’t guarantee that future episodes of BIG SHOT won’t contain stronger politically correct, objectionable worldview content, including offensive content about teenage sexuality or substance abuse. That becomes more of a possibility since, except for one short scene in Episode 3, BIG SHOT so far isn’t focused on making Jesus Christ or God the center of its story, or using the Bible to provide positive lessons for its characters and the audience. So, media-wise parents and grandparents should pre-screen future episodes before they let children and teenagers see them. Meanwhile, the MOVIEGUIDE® website will keep readers informed if Disney starts inserting more objectionable content into its stories for BIG SHOT.