Big Shot: Another Basketball Redemption Story

Nell Verlaque, Tiana Le, John Stamos, Monique Green, Cricket Wampler, and Tisha Custodio in BIg Shot - "Episode 101." (Disney+/Gilles Mingasson)

Big Shot, the basketball dramedy starring John Stamos as basketball coach Marvyn Korn, is the latest new series premiering on Disney+.

Press were given the opportunity to screen the first three episodes for review.

How does Wisconsin coach Marvyn Korn (John Stamos) end up losing his job and coaching an elite private school team? Though if we want to be more specific, Korn is now coaching a girl’s high school basketball team. Through the montage in the first episode, we learn that Korn is a modern-day Bobby Knight (Hello, Kentucky Wildcats cameo!). He’s thrown a chair and taken on the refs. It’s how Korn finds himself without a college coaching job. Of course, money talks–specifically, Gruzinsky money–so Korn sets himself up in La Jolla to coach the Westbrook Sirens. Larry Gruzinsky’s (Michael Trucco) money might be able to bring in a coach but it doesn’t mean he gets to tell a coach how to do his job. It takes one practice for star player Louise Gruzinsky (Nell Verlaque) to get a suspension.

Coaching high school basketball isn’t the same as college. This is something Marvyn will soon learn. Before long, he’ll find himself in somewhat of a rivalry with a teacher (Yolanda English) over scheduling issues. To no surprise, he ends up in Sherilyn Thomas’s (Yvette Nicole Brown) office and meeting with school counselor George Pappas (Richard Robichaux). The rivalry only intensifies in the third episode. Viewers will know exactly what I mean in a few weeks from now. Basketball doesn’t mean as much to the faculty as it does to Korn and the team.

The coaching concepts that Korn is used to at the college level are not the same at the high school level. These are vulnerable players that require a coach to be empathetic. Can Korn be empathetic or is this something that assistant coach Holly Barrett (Jessalyn Gilsig) will teach him? We shall see.

There’s a lovely father-daughter story in Big Shot with Marvyn’s relationship with Emma (Sophia Mitri Schloss). At first, the relationship is solely over video calls and texts. Things change when Emma’s mom takes a new job overseas. Throw in Marvyn’s coaching background and well, it’s easy to see why Emma also wants a new change in scenery. It will also mean getting to know her father. That’s not easy when one is a college coach. Taking him down a notch to high school basketball should make for better family dynamics. But will it? You’ll just have to wait and see. If you ask me, the third episode is when the series starts to find its footing. The first two episodes are largely spent introducing characters. We know the characters by this point but there’s still some backstory that makes its way to the forefront.

The third episode is pivotal in many ways. Not only does Emma relocate to California with her dad but we get to see what happens when they live together. Marvyn’s way of living isn’t what Emma prefers especially with living at a hotel and all. It’s not a surprise when Marvyn asks the team ahead of time to take her under their wing. There are some bumpy points in their relationship but I’d expect that will improve by the end of the season. Emma certainly knows how to shake up the rivalry between Korn and a teacher. Honestly, it may just be the best economics lesson I’ve seen on TV in a while!

On one hand, it’s impossible to watch Big Shot without thinking of the James C. Strouse-directed The Winning Season. If you recall, the Sam Rockwell-starring film premiered at Sundance in 2009 before Lionsgate released the film in 2010. The big difference between the two is that The Winning Season features an estranged relationship between father (coach) and daughter. This is far from the case in Big Shot although coaching the team seems to be helping Marvyn Korn be a better father. I’ll be curious to see how things play out during the rest of the season.

Big Shot is another basketball redemption story but needs time to see if it will set itself apart from the films that came before. I’ve watched the first three episodes twice now and am enjoying the series. We’ll see how things play out but if they keep things up at the same intensity of the third episode, it’s sure to be a winner.

CREATORS: David E. Kelley, Dean Lorey, Brad Garrett
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Brad Garrett, Bill D’Elia, Dean Lorey, David E. Kelley
CAST: John Stamos, Jessalyn Gilsig, Richard Robichaux, Sophia Mitri Schloss, Nell Verlaque, Tiana Le, Monique Green, Tisha Custodio, Cricket Wampler, and Yvette Nicole Brown

Big Shot premieres April 16 with episodes streaming exclusively on Disney+.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.