A reality series built around the wheelings, dealings and clashes of ego among a group of sports agents might sound like a new low in insider solipsism, but “Super Agent” is plenty enjoyable on its own highly self-involved terms. Basically “The Apprentice” for football fans, albeit one that will likely leave Spike TV watchers begging for less boardroom and more game, this lightweight eight-part skein pits nine tenpercenters of varying experience (not to mention tolerability) against each other in a contest to sign former USC defensive lineman and NFL first-round draft pick Shaun Cody.
Not the highest of stakes, to be sure — when host Tony Gonzalez, of the Kansas City Chiefs, informs viewers that choosing the wrong agent could cost Cody millions, one is not exactly moved to tears. A four-time starter for a back-to-back national championship team, Cody is a prize acquisition. But it’s personalities, not prizes, that matter. On that front, “Super Agent” delivers solidly enough.
The nine agents, who range from seasoned dealmakers to nervous upstarts, offer a wide array of outsized personalities and combustible egos. Predictably, the villains are rigged from the start: Harold Lewis — never one to let you forget about his 22 years in the industry — who comes off as a smarmy chatterbox, and Tim McIlwain, who’s as snide as he is silver-tongued (in the first episode, he memorably refers to two other agents as “Dreadlocks” and “Jerkoff”).
Then there’s the sole female contestant, Lisa Van Wagner, who displays a winning determination to sign her first National Football League client — although accidentally typing “the Baltimore Colts” on a report won’t help her standing.
The test for “Super Agent” will be how well it concocts challenges to keep its contestants busy while simultaneously exploiting the parallel drama of Cody’s status in the draft derby (he was the Detroit Lions’ No. 2 pick).
First round, which requires the agents to deliver presentations based on coach chatter at January’s Senior Bowl in Alabama, is fairly routine stuff, and some of the behind-the-scenes backbiting is hilariously inconsequential.
Similarities abound between “Super Agent” and every other contest-dating skein — raised eyebrows, snippy put-downs, lots of phony sportsmanlike camaraderie and an elimination system presided over by a lucky bachelor (er, client) who is, perhaps, rather too kind to his rejects. Show’s dynamic could improve considerably were Cody to bring to the table the same ruthless aggression he exhibits in pads and helmets. A little infusion of the Donald wouldn’t hurt, either.