Wall Street’s” Gordon Gekko may have told us that greed was good — but does that mean we have to care about a bunch of callow, self-involved investment bankers whose only goal in life is to “make some green, people”? The creators of “Bull,” TNT’s first dramatic series, seem to believe that all the recent hype about twentysomething millionaires and sexy startups is enough to draw us into this soul-less world of IPOs and garbitrage. Topicality alone, however, may not be strong enough to lure viewers to this TV market.
Pilot episode does a nice job of introducing aud to the good-looking cast and setting the wheels in motion. In the first sequence, we meet the old-guard leader of the empire, Robert “The Kaiser” Roberts (Donald Moffat, channelling Richard III), who simply can’t understand why his grandson “Ditto” (George Newbern) wants to break away from the established firm to start his own morally superior company.
One by one, the dramatis personae make their entrances, delivering their au-so-very-courant chatter about Brazilian bonds, wireless communication deals and attending a party at Yoko’s place. There’s Corey Granville (Malik Yoba), who’s a genius when it comes to knowing the nuances of the stock exchange but faces prejudice from the Kaiser because he’s black; ice queen Alison Jeffers (Elisabeth Rohm); new eager kids on the block (Christopher Wiehl and Ian Kahn); and the no-nonsense Italian-American Marissa Rufo (Alicia Coppola), who has a heart of gold, because she says “Capice?” every once in a while. Where’s Tony Soprano when you need him?
Looming in the background is the smooth operator, Hunter Lasky (a nice turn by Stanley Tucci), whose shady connections and slick M.O. could make or break the new team’s secretive enterprise. Oh, and he’s having a secret affair that brings new meaning to the words “market manipulation.”
Director Stephen Surjik handles the pressures of juggling all the character intros and giving viewers a taste of the mad pace of this financial world. Rohn Schmidt’s glossy photography, especially with the “Koyaanisqatsi”-style exterior shots of Gotham at work, brings a lot of pizzazz to the project. Veteran composer Mark Snow also hits a home run with his hyper, high-on-Red-Bull-and-caffeine score.
Will the Young Turks succeed despite the mighty Kaiser’s harsh threats? Will Lasky’s affair endanger our team of good-looking dreamers? Will Ryan O’Neal save his career by joining the series as the Kaiser’s good-for-nothing son?
Series creator Michael Chernuchin is certainly hoping that viewers will tune in week after week to find out the answers, but wise investors may want to check the portfolio of Fox’s similarly themed “The Street” before they take stock.