Episode 1 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 1/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 1.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 1/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 1.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 1.5/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 0.5/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 3/5
The day Blockbuster closed signalled a new era for the industry and viewers. Through the magic of the internet and online streaming, the entire process of how content was made, viewed, and accessed changed.
2009’s financial debacle added to the wounds. But one of the biggest corporations – once considered untouchable – in America and parts of the western world – went bust, as a result. Blockbuster, the television series, reimagines the last remaining retail store of Blockbuster; the chain in contemporary times.
With a well-diversified (and intentional) group of employees, Timmy (Randall Park) must navigate life after learning the above from corporate. At the same time, Timmy also has the difficult task to juggle his personal life which goes awry after his high school crush (Melissa Fumero as “Eliza”) returns to work with him.
Inspired by the franchise’s actual last remaining video rental store, the sentiments expressed here could act as a perpetual time capsule – a collective reminder of the past that operates in the present.
Blockbuster is essentially a workplace comedy and uses the sitcom setting – sans the laugh track (thankfully) – to unveil season 1. Having finished it sluggishly to write this review, here is hoping that there is no season 2. Because this debauchery is poison for audiences and viewers. And quite frankly, a smear on the genre. In its golden age, the concept flourished with The Office, Parks and Recs, 30 Rock, and Brooklyn 99. These names have an established and cherished place in the heart of viewers and brought to them a sense of the familiar.
They rank among the funniest sitcoms made in the 20th century. Although Blockbuster belongs in the same category on paper, the reality is ghoulishly different. Its nightmarish writing and acting (unfortunately, yes) is a demented marriage that has no clear direction or purpose. In fact, the show has such poor production standards, that it does not even pass as a time-kill. One can certainly appreciate the irony in the Blockbuster/Netflix collaboration as well but not so much the lackluster use of Timmy and Blockbuster’s predicament. The majority of the issues that arise over the course of the ten weary episodes are commonplace.
And the treatment of how that premise pays out is the most disappointing thing about season 1. The question, “what would it be like to work at the last Blockbuster on Earth?” is an interesting one. But we hardly see that being answered in the plotline of the episodes. Outside of random movie quotes and the design of the set, it’s easy to forget that Blockbuster is supposed to be about a dying video rental store. The very thing that was supposed to make it unique falls flat on its face. The writers were just not able to come up with situations that could engage the viewers or the characters. Part of the problem is not developing the latter completely.
Despite their best attempts, the makers were not able to reconcile the group into a binding camaraderie. All of them had certain traits that could have been exploited and complimented. As often happens in this format, the characters are divided into groups of two/three and distributed in an episode. But here, the combination that the writers go for is completely off.
There is a genuine problem in how they matched the different energies into various scenarios. Instead of being warm or grounded, they seem fantastical, derivative, and the farthest thing from being reasonable.
A certain crassness fills up the screen that showcases the ill-thought-out scenarios and the equally bad treatment by the characters. Another problem with season 1 is the lack of continuity. Blockbuster’s lack of recall value or motifs hurts it badly. There is nothing to associate with the previous episodes you have watched.
Characters often change and show new sides of themselves as we go through episodes, almost as if Blockbuster were an anthology. They do surprising things without ever keeping a core intact that they can fall back on as real people do. The group comes across like cardboard characters with plastic hearts and repository-like brains incapable of reacting humanly to any given situation.
There is just not enough juice in any of the episodes really – barring the finale to some extent – to give us reasonable content to judge. Season 1 is a complete disappointment and missed opportunity. Vanessa Ramos and co have been royally found out and short of ideas and Blockbuster’s season 1 just goes on to prove that content is king.
Verdict - 4/10