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    Thursday, February 18, 2021

    Smark TV: Working The Gimmick In Young Rock's Pilot Episode

    It's Migz Llado here with a brand new column as we review this new sitcom that's already near and dear to our hearts as wrestling fans. Welcome to Smark TV's coverage of Young Rock

    I consider myself a mark for wrestlers who appear in TV or movies. Perhaps it's the thought that, while wrestling fans have a big enough community in the country, wrestlers (apart from names like Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and a few others) aren't really well known in other forms of media. When I found out that Young Rock was coming out, I felt particularly excited about it because it not only stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson but also because it tackles a lot of his early life—including his father's wrestling days.

    If this is the first time you're hearing of Young Rock, here's the plot writeup from NBC's Young Rock page

    Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars in a larger-than-life family comedy based on outrageous stories of his youth. This coming-of-age journey highlights the unforgettable moments and incredible relationships that took Dwayne from ordinary kid to extraordinary superstar – revealing he’s more like us than we know.

    The first episode doesn't disappoint in terms of content. While it's a tad bit short—clocking it at a little over 20 minutes (it's a network sitcom, after all)—the episode is chock-full of The Rock's memorable experiences from his formative years. I'm sure the studio has taken liberties in making some of the stories and experiences a bit more interesting for TV, but you can tell you're in for some light-hearted chuckles mixed with some tear-jerking moments. This episode perfectly sets the tone for what to expect in the NBC series.

    It's a parody of a tell-all interview set in the not-so-distant future between a fictionalized version of Randall Park (who transitions to a career as a broadcast journalist by 2032!) and future presidential candidate Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson—something he's actually teased before on social media! The flashback scenes are interspersed between sequences where Agent Jimmy Woo Park is interviewing The Great One for a TV special. While I'm not a fan of jumping back and forth across four different timelines ("Kid" Rock, "Teen" Rock, "Young Adult" Rock, and "Future" Rock), it helps keep things fresh and helps give "Future" Rock the details he needs to tie his storytelling together.

    I expected the show to mirror CBS's Young Sheldon (and it does give off similar vibes). However, I'm not sure if it was the wrestling fan in me or if the premise itself got me hooked, but I found myself more entertained by this than the aforementioned The Big Bang Theory spin-off. Incorporating wrestling legends such as Andre The Giant, "Macho Man" Randy Savage (not yet seen in the first episode), The Junkyard Dog, and The Wild Samoans into the story is part of the reason I'm looking forward to future episodes and how their appearances helped shape our lead's future.

    The show's appeal is seeing The Rock's mannerisms, dialogues, and natural charisma stand out and be peppered within the stories. It'll make you wonder how stylized some of the scenes are, but at the same time, it all sounds believable and engaging. The humor isn't something you'd see in shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine or other NBC stand-outs like The Office or Parks and Recreation. It's actually more like The Good Place, which can be both funny and serious with the two emotions being inserted in just the right amounts and at appropriate times so you won't get tired of following the action.

    Fans of The Rock (or wrestling in general) will love the callbacks to wrestling royalty, Dwayne's football history, and his rise to the top. Meanwhile, casual viewers will still be hooked because it keeps a grounded approach to telling the story of one of the most popular celebrities worldwide. At the heart of it all, the central thought is about family and how it all ties everything together while also highlighting how fun a character Dwayne is both in real life and on the screen. I'll have to wait for the next episode to see if it continues on this track, but I do recommend watching this week's offering.

    P.S. I have a feeling a lot of the great moments in the show will come from Andre the Giant and "Macho Man" Randy Savage.

    Episode Grade: A-

    Screencaps taken from the pilot of Young Rock


    Miguel “The Migz” Llado is your resident Young Rock reviewer here at the Smark Henry offices. A lover of music, wrestling, videogames, and food, he lives his life tweeting his mind off (@the_migz) Instagramming random food items and locations (@tha_migz), and streaming videogames on Twitch (@the_migz) while he pursues his musical career via his YouTube channel (Migz Llado) and courtesy of his band The Mox (TheMoxGarageRock). You can also add him on PSN (MigzLlado) to show your WWE 2K (or any PS4) skills.
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    Item Reviewed: Smark TV: Working The Gimmick In Young Rock's Pilot Episode Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Migz Llado
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