Tuesday, February 16, 2021

NBC Midseason Pilot Review: Young Rock - Premieres Tonight (Feb. 16); TBS Version of Wipeout Premieres April 1

Young Rock


Young Rock - Tuesdays at 8:00PM ET/PT on NBC
Premieres Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 8:00PM ET/PT


by Vincent

Young Rock focuses on different chapters of Dwayne Johnson's life. From growing up in a strong and resilient family, to being surrounded by the wild characters of his professional wrestling family, to playing football at the University of Miami, the show will explore the crazy rollercoaster that has shaped Dwayne into the man he is today and the larger-than-life characters he's met along the way.

Cast Details:

Adrian Groulx as Dwayne Johnson, Age 10
Ana Tuisila as Lia Maivia
Bradley Constant as Dwayne Johnson, Age 15
Dwayne Johnson as Dwayne Johnson
Joseph Lee Anderson as Rocky Johnson
Stacey Leilua as Ata Johnson
Uli Latukefu as Dwayne Johnson, Age 18-20

Adrian Groulx (Dwayne Johnson, Age 10) is a young actor. Young Rock will be his first major starring role.

Ana Tuilsala (Lia Maivia) is an actress, known for Outrageous Fortune (2005), Samoan Wedding (2006) and now Young Rock (2021).

Bradley Constant (Dwayne Johnson, Age 15) is a young actor. Young Rock will be his first major starring role.

Dwayne Johnson (Dwyane Johnson) is a wrestler-turned actor who the show is based on, known for his many prolific roles in films such as the Fast & Furious movies, Jumanji, GI Joe, and many others.

Joseph Lee Anderson (Rocky Johnson) is an an actor known for his role on TV shows such as S.W.A.T., American Soul, and Timeless.

Stacey Leiula (Ata Johnson) is an actress from New Zealand. Young Rock will be her first US starring role. She is previously known for her role on the popular New Zealand TV series Shortland Street.

Uli Latukefu (Dwayne Johnson, Age 18-20) is an actor, best known for role in the film Alien: Covenant and the Netflix series Marco Polo.

Pilot Plot:

"Working the Gimmick" (Airs Tuesday, February 16 at 8:00PM ET)

As Dwayne Johnson runs for president in 2032, he reflects on his surreal life that's helped shape him into the man he is today. From growing up in a resilient family surrounded by wrestling icons, navigating rebellious teen years, to playing NCAA football at the U. This is how the boy became the man.

Analysis:

For a series that NBC is banking on appealing to wide, mainstream audiences starring a highly popular actor, Young Rock is a pretty odd show. It takes place between 4 entirely separate timelines, and also features an oddball sense of humor that you might not expect from a network sitcom starring The Rock, yet the show's cast (Johnson included) handles it well. The series is created by Nahnatchka Khan, who previously created Fresh Off the Boat and Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23. Fresh Off the Boat was another series that snuck in a lot of offball, off-the-wall humor into its family sitcom friendly premiere, so it doesn't surprise me to see Khan continuing that here. (Don't Trust the B was just a beautifully odd show all around, which is probably why it only lasted for two seasons). There are a lot of things about Young Rock that seemingly shouldn't work - there's just a lot going on here, and The Rock could ultimately prove to be a distraction, a way for a show to coast on its laurels and live off of its star power. Yet, there's some genuinely funny jokes here, and also some really interesting character work.

One of Young Rock's greatest assets is The Rock himself, as The Rock's likable presence translates well into a single-camera sitcom. He's a guy you want to root for, and that translates into all aged versions of The Rock. The actors playing Young Rock do a good job of capturing his energy. Additionally, the show does a really good job of painting its ensemble cast and turning Young Rock into a show that - underneath all the bells and whistles - is a family comedy. Khan continues her strong work on Fresh Off the Boat, creating a family dynamic that is relatable yet entertaining, filled with big and likable characters. The biggest question is if the "gimmick" (to borrow a word used often in Young Rock) of the show will ultimately distract from the solid family sitcom going on during the Young Rock days. The show's meat and potatoes is in its depiction of The Rock's younger days, and as good as The Rock is, the presence of "future" Rock in 2032 ultimately doesn't measure up to the really good stories being told about his childhood. If Young Rock wants to be as good as it can be, it'll spend as much time as it can in the past, only visiting the future when absolutely necessary.

Conclusion:

Young Rock is a lot of shows in one, but the best version of the show is the one that most heavily focuses on the sweet and well-drawn family dynamic of Young Rock's childhood. Granted, a show that doesn't star one of the most liked actors of our generation would likely not have a chance at being a hit, so it makes sense that the show wants to keep The Rock around and continue covering his "future" presidential run. However, if the show wants to be as good as it can, it'll use those not particularly interesting parts sparingly and focus on the strong family sitcom dynamics instead.



Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4/5
Funniness: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 8:00PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • NBC.com Official Site
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Young Rock Photo Gallery

    Preview:

  • Wipeout

    TBS announced that its newly re-imagined format of the iconic extreme obstacle course series, Wipeout will premiere on Thursday, April 1 at 9pm/8c. Hosted by multifaceted megastar John Cena (Fast & Furious, The Suicide Squad) and Nicole Byer (Nailed It!, Girl Code), with Camille Kostek (Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover Model 2019) serving as field host, the all-new 20-hour series takes viewers on a white-knuckle ride, featuring new course elements that will push contestants' athleticism, endurance and determination to even greater extremes as they fight to win the grand cash prize. The new season of Wipeout will feature new format twists and elements that will push the athleticism and willpower of each contestant pairing to even greater extremes, all while delivering more than a few epic fails. Each game has been designed into three rounds and now features a jaw-dropping, three-stage, obstacle course consisting of multiple strategy and decision points designed to test the stamina of the competitors. The series' iconic big balls also make a return, bringing many laughs and surprises along the way for fans.

    Following its debut as the #1 new series of the summer in 2008, Wipeout amassed an impressive following throughout its seven seasons on-air on ABC. The series has been formatted globally in 30+ territories including Argentina, Australia and the UK, and has inspired numerous spin-offs and specials.


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Wednesday, March 3

    The Goldbergs - "Mr. Ships Ahoy" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    As William Penn’s new Quaker Warden, Beverly is thrilled to have co-workers for the first time and sets out to make them all love her. To her dismay, it’s more difficult to win them over than she anticipated, as her reputation of being a difficult school parent precedes her. Meanwhile, Geoff competes in the “Mr. Ships Ahoy” beauty pageant to prove to Erica that he can be seen as desirable by other women.

    American Housewife - "The Guardian" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Katie and Greg secretly put Kathryn (Wendie Malick) through a series of tests to see if she would make a good guardian for Anna-Kat in the unlikely event something should happen to them. Meanwhile, after tracking down J.D.’s (Jake Choi) potential egg donors, Tami (Holly Robinson Peete) and Katie scheme to learn more about them.

    The Conners - "A Stomach Ache, a Heartbreak and a Grave Mistake" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
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    Call Your Mother - "Feelings" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
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    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of March 1)

    Wednesday, March 3

    • Ben Schwartz (Space Force/Parks and Recreation) - Watch Ben on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS. He will also be on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
    • Annaleigh Ashford (B Positive) - Annaleigh appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 3:30am on Bravo.
    • Kyra Sedgwick (Call Your Mother) - Kyra is a guest on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Arsenio Hall (Arsenio) - Arsenio talks about Coming 2 America on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
    • Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly/Samantha Who?) - Melissa appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Kristen Bell (The Good Place) and Dax Shepard (Bless This Mess) - Kristen and Dax are guests on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Jermaine Fowler (Superior Donuts) - Jermaine will be on The Real, so check your local listings.
    • Awkwafina (Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens) - Awkwafina appears on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
    • Hillary Duff (Younger/Lizzie McGuire) - Hillary talks about My Brave Little Girl on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.


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