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Monday, January 28, 2019

'The Game' CS DVD: Dramedy Chronicling Lives and Loves of Pro Football Players

CBS Home Entertainment scores a touchdown regarding releasing the complete-series DVD-set of "The Game" on January 29, which is the same week as the Super Bowl. This multi Image Awards winning series that features aging San Diego Sabers team captain Jason Pitts is very apt at a time that real-life New England Patriots QB Tom Brady may be putting his soft balls in his locker for the last time. 

The disclaimers regarding the following thoughts on this release begin with not having previously watched this series or "Girlfriends," of which it is a spin-off. Further ignorance relates to only having time to watch roughly 40 or the 147 episodes in this set and also having virtually no knowledge of football. The better news is that none of this is a handicap regarding enjoying the hilarity and associated trauma and drama of "Game." 

A related perspective is this New Hampshire boy initially hearing the term "homes" as "Holmes" and believing that the term refers to an intelligent person. He is not very fly even for a white guy. 

Knowledge does include executive-producer Kelsey Grammer having extensive familiarity with one popular series leading to another success. 

This American version of the British series "Footballers Wives" centers around three women and their men. The "Girlfriends" tie-in relates to Melanie "Med School" Barnett (Tia D. Mowry) of that series sacrificing studying at Johns Hopkins to attend a San Diego university. Her motive is standing by her man Derwin Davis, who is a Sabers rookie. 

The S1 and S2 drama of this couple largely centers on the challenge of taking one for the team. Derwin initially struggles to find his place on the Sabers in every sense of that term; he then must deal with all the temptations associated with fame and fortune as well as regularly preserving his male pride.

Much unintended humor relates to first-year med. student Melanie almost always looking well groomed and rarely looking tired. This is not to mention that numerous times that she ditches studying to party with Derwin or even fly to an away game. The impact of the demand to keep up with the other wives and girlfriends is a regular source of conflict. 

Bi-racial player Jason (Coby Bell)  is married to white former cheerleader/current heavy social drinker Kelly Pitts. The charm and humor of Bell makes Jason the most appealing character of the primary sextet. 

Conflict in this marriage that is due for a seven-year itch includes multi-multi-millionaire Jason being comically frugal. We also see the strain that this and other demands place of Kelly, who becomes a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

A "Meet the Parents" episode that explains the income insecurity of Jason nicely makes that character more human. Less sympathy relates to his concern regarding his days on the gridiron being numbered. It seems that retired star players easily transition into a combination of coaching jobs, acting careers, sportscaster gigs, and/or lucrative endorsement deals, 

The least likable couple is star QB Malik Wright and his mother/manager Tasha Mack (Wendy Raquel Robinson). Malik is a stereotypical fool who considers himself a playah, but whose game is limited to the one on the actual field. This portrayal evokes thoughts of the performance of Jimmie "J.J." Walker on the '70s sitcom "Good Times" causing fellow cast member John Amos to quit that hit series. 

Tasha is a stereotypical sassy woman who works her way up from the streets after becoming an unwed mother at 16.

An S2 episode in which Malik continues digging his hole deeper after making an offensive joke about inner-city teens selling drugs is a good example of his personality; for her part, Tasha is ready for a fight at the drop of a feather. 

Armchair quarterbacking begins with stating that the concept of "Game" is solid. It gives the general public insight regarding a world that is foreign to many of us. Focusing on the wives and girlfriends allows us to meet the women behind the high-profile men. It is nice to think that the highly significant others of real-life players support each other as much as the Sunbeams help the Sabers women.

Further, the first few S1 episodes particularly avoid standard sitcom plots; no one needs to keep a dinner for the boss from becoming a catastrophe or must work through a wacky misunderstanding. An amusing aspect of this is that this observation comes just before watching an episode in which Jason and Kelly fight regarding whether to throw their young daughter a lavish birthday party.

"Game" does put a nice spin on the absurdly expensive kids' party plot; the drama that often enters each episode includes Kelly feeling both that she always must play the mean parent and that Jason uses this celebrity status in his campaign to be considered the nice parent. 

The numerous bonus features include the "The Game" episode of "Girlfriends that is a pilot for our series. We also get two  interviews with "Game" creator Mara Brockk Akil and several deleted scenes. This is not to mention a feature on the series transitioning from the CW to BET after the third season. 

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