The story is tried and tested, we’ve seen it play out on screen multiple times – coach/athlete at the peak of their career makes a huge mistake, gets ousted by the sport they love and must find an unconventional way back in whilst learning and or teaching a valuable life lesson along the way. It’s basically the synopsis of most good sports dramas, and it works like a dream, people love sports and they love a feel-good story – put the two together and you’re surely onto a winner.
Arriving on Disney+ this week, Big Shot stars John Stamos as Marvin Korn, an NCAA basketball coach whose career is all but over after he throws a chair at a referee. To stay in the career and sport he loves he must take a job coaching at an all-girls private school. This transition requires him to leave his aggressive coaching techniques behind, manage his temper and be anything but himself.
As someone whose life has been spent overachieving, Marvyn is used to having things his way, and moving across the country to coach at a level he considers beneath him is far from the top of his list of things to do. He’s off to a bad start from day one, fat-shaming one player, reacting insensitively to another’s neurological condition and suspending the star player. It’s a rocky start, to say the least. “You’re used to being coddled, now get un-used to it!” Korn declares to the team, starting a war that he quickly loses. He’s quickly given a shot of reality by assistant coach Holly (Jessalyn Gilsig), whose role is really to keep him in check.
As the series moves on, it’s clear that Korn must embrace the fact that these players aren’t the same as the ones he’s used to, and it’s not just their skill or experience on the court that sets them apart. Big Shot is more about working through issues and differences rather than trying to fix them.
The series shines when its focus is away from the basketball court, there are some sweet moments between Korn and his players individually and also his daughter, Emma (Sophia Mitri Schloss). Louise Gruzinsky (Nell Verlaque) is the star of the team who’s overbearing father also happens to have paid for the school gymnasium. She shines off the court, in some really nice interactions with coach Korn we get to understand her motivation to play and are shown that there parallels between her relationship with her father and Korn’s with his. Hopefully, there will a more in-depth look at this later on in the series.
Big Shot has plenty of positives and if you’re going into it expecting it to be another sports drama I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised just how much depth it has to offer. Both its characters and the issues they face are relatable and authentic. It’s less about winning on the court and more about finding out who you are off it. One of the plus points is that it offers Disney+ subscribers more variety in what’s on offer. Don’t be put off by the sports theme, the basketball court is really just the location used to tell these character’s stories.
Episode one of Disney’s Big Shot lands on Disney+ on Friday 16th April with new episodes arriving weekly.