×

TV Review: ‘The Ranch’

With:
Ashton Kutcher, Sam Elliott, Danny Masterson, Debra Winger, Elisha Cuthbert

Netflix has been opportunistic about seizing upon titles, talent and genres that more traditional TV sources have neglected, which likely explains its interest in doing a multi-camera sitcom, albeit one peppered with pay-cable-type expletives. Enter “The Ranch,” which, starring Ashton Kutcher, and coming from “Two and a Half Men” alums Don Reo and Jim Patterson, might as well be called simply “Three Men” given the similarities.

Certainly, nobody strained any creative muscles in crafting this concept. Kutcher plays Colt, a perpetual Peter Pan who has spent the last several years pursuing a semipro football career, still something of a local hero because of his exploits as a college quarterback. Colt stops by home in Colorado en route to a tryout, and quickly finds himself at odds again with his dad, Beau (Sam Elliott), and older brother Rooster (Danny Masterson), who never left and, between put-downs, fills his sibling in on the fact that the ranch is struggling. That prompts Colt to – what else? – opt to hang around, even if that means butting heads with the old man.

Also in the picture is their mom, Maggie (Debra Winger, in a sort-of grown-up version of her “Urban Cowboy” role), Beau’s estranged wife, who runs the local bar, where everyone rather amiably hangs out. Subsequent episodes also bring in “24’s” Elisha Cuthbert as Colt’s old girlfriend, who has moved on, even if Colt hasn’t.

With Kutcher and Masterson back together, “The Ranch” might garner attention as a mini-“That ’70s Show” reunion, but the primary draw here is Elliott, operating well within his wheelhouse as the irascible dad. Beyond that, it’s tempting to dismiss this farm-friendly concept by asking, “Where’s the beef?”

Aside from the occasional bouts of blue language, and Beau’s obviously conservative political views, there’s virtually nothing here to distinguish the show from any number of failed network sitcoms, even if the project tries not to be quite as housebound by getting outside a bit. (Granted, even when they’re in the barn birthing a calf, the prodding laughs from the studio audience continue.)

That’s not to say the writing doesn’t periodically become a bit more pointed, with Colt at one point announcing, “I peaked in high school!” Still, that’s emblematic of a series in which everything feels not merely derivative but a little too on the nose, as if an audience weaned on such fare couldn’t discern where its various beats are heading, like Beau’s admission that he was tough on his kid because he saw so much best-of-the-family potential in him, with the inevitable “I can hear you!” rim shot from Masterson to follow.

Kutcher, of course, was rather famously enlisted to wring a few more seasons out of “Men” after Charlie Sheen’s public meltdown, and somewhat ironically, he’s much closer to the Charlie Harper role here than he was in that series. Elliott doesn’t get to do that much comedy, and seems to relish the opportunity here. Mostly, it’s hard to escape a sense that everyone involved is leveraging past performance in the name of a paycheck for what doesn’t exactly look like a backbreaking gig.

As noted, Netflix has enjoyed some success (as measured by media attention, since nobody knows the viewer numbers) by seeking to zig where other outlets are sagging, such as its family-oriented “Fuller House” revival. Yet while there’s clearly room for a wide array of original product, “The Ranch” doesn’t exactly feel like the sort of series that merits shelling out money for a subscription. It’s more a mild way for committed Netflix users to pass the time – something to graze on, presumably, once they have consumed pretty much everything with any substance in their queues.

TV Review: 'The Ranch'

(Series; Netflix, Fri. April 1)

Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by Ranch Hand Prods.

Crew: Executive producers, Don Reo, Jim Patterson, Ashton Kutcher, Jane Wiseman, Blair Fetter, Andy Weil; co-executive producers, Danny Masterson, Jamie Rhonheimer, Steve Tompkins; supervising producers, Max Searle, Matt Ross; producers, Nikki Schiefelbein, Steve Leff, Melanie Patterson; director, David Trainer; writers, Reo, Patterson; camera, Donald A. Morgan; production designer, John Shaffner; editor, Michael Karlich; music, Ryeland Allison; casting, Nikki Valco, Ken Miller, 30 MIN.

Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Sam Elliott, Danny Masterson, Debra Winger, Elisha Cuthbert

More TV

  • SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases

    SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases 'The Magicians' Season 5 Clip (Watch)

    In today’s SDCC TV news roundup, Syfy shares a clip from “The Magicians” Season 5, and Amazon sets the Season 4 premiere of “The Expanse.” CASTING Julie Gonzalo and Staz Nair have joined the cast of “Supergirl” for its upcoming fifth season. Gonzalo will portray iconic DC character Andrea Rojas aka Acrata, a polished businesswoman [...]

  • Doom Patrol -- Ep. 101 --

    'Doom Patrol' Renewed, Season 2 to Stream on DC Universe and HBO Max

    “Doom Patrol” has been renewed for a second season and will soon be available outside of DC Universe. At San Diego Comic-Con, series executive producer Jeremy Carver and star Diane Guerrero announced not only that the show will be back for another season but also that it will be available on HBO Max, the upcoming [...]

  • Teyonah Parris

    Teyonah Parris Cast in 'WandaVision' at Disney Plus

    “Mad Men” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” actress Teyonah Parris has been cast in Disney Plus’ “Wanda Vision” series. She will play an adult version of Monica Rambeau, a child character introduced in the film “Captain Marvel.” The announcement was made at Marvel’s Comic-Con presentation. The forthcoming Disney+ series about Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth [...]

  • Zachary Quinto as Charlie Manx - NOS4A2

    'NOS4A2' Renewed for Season 2 at AMC

    AMC has renewed “NOS4A2” for a second season. The news was announced during the show’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con and ahead of the Season 1 finale. Season 2 will consist of 10 episodes and is slated to air in 2020. The series, which is based on the 2013 Joe Hill novel of the same [...]

  • Gabrielle Carteris

    SAG-AFTRA Signs Netflix Deal With Expanded Coverage

    SAG-AFTRA and streaming giant Netflix have agreed to a new three-year contract with expanded coverage for union performers. Netflix has previously employed SAG-AFTRA members under the union’s standard master contracts for television and film and had been signing on a production by production basis. The union announced Saturday that the new deal recognizes performance capture as covered work [...]

  • Cara Delevingne'Carnival Row' TV show photocall,

    Cara Delevingne Says Her 'Carnival Row' Character Is Pansexual, Explains Defending Taylor Swift Against Justin Bieber

    Cara Delevingne and Orlando Bloom’s love affair may be at the center of the upcoming Amazon Prime Video series “Carnival Row,” but the British actress doesn’t want viewers to assume her faerie character is heterosexual. “I’m a pansexual faerie,” Delevingne told Variety during an exclusive one-on-one interview at Comic-Con adding that there are other queer [...]

  • 'Russian Doll' Star Charlie Barnett Joins

    'Russian Doll' Star Charlie Barnett Joins 'Arrow' Final Season

    “Russian Doll” standout Charlie Barnett is joining the “Arrowverse.” Barnett, who is having a busy year having also appeared in Netflix’s “Tales of the City,” comes on board in the series regular role of John Diggle, Jr., son of David Ramsey’s character. News of his casting was announced at the show’s farewell Comic-Con panel where things [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content