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I've discovered an entire tape full of Players. That's a TV show, rather than a packet of cigarettes. It is, you probably won't be surprised to learn, utter nonsense, but finding it makes me stupidly happy, in that "I know it's daft, but I just can't seem to care" way that characterises so much of my television viewing. Players is a show about three con men, who get early release from prison in exchange for working with the FBI. And yes, that is basically the plot of White Collar. There are big differences, though. No redemption arc for starters, and no ongoing storyline. Television didn't seem to like doing them too much until recently. Players is mostly just about being a con man and chasing bad guys; and about being filmed from arty angles, whilst pretending that you're in a hip-hop video. And car chases. It's about quite a lot of them as well.

I like Players. It's fun. Relentlessly obsessed with image, and filled with strange camera angles, and random flashes of monochrome and sepia, but fun. I wasn't kidding about the hip-hop thing, either. The opening credits are hilarious. They're filled with people standing in strange ways, and doing odd things with their hands, pretending that they're somebody's incredibly stereotyped image of a rapper. Or a hip-hopper? Is that a word? They look bloody silly, anyway.

The group pose is even better:

And yes, he apparently does seem to think that that hat is a good idea. Or that a fleet of the things in every available colour are, anyway. You'd think that subtlety would be a good plan in a con artist, but wearing a shedload of jewellery, a brightly coloured suit and matching hat, and a pair of designer sunglasses, is clearly far more effective. Even better is walking three abreast, in matching sunglasses, doing your best to look like you're tough.

Anyway. Head con man is Ice. Ice is played by Ice T, which indicates either that he has a deep, abiding love for that name, or that somebody doesn't have much imagination. Ice is very cool, which is presumably why he's called that - although ice is actually more cold than cool, when you think about it. Breeze might be a more fitting name. Or Slightly Ajar Window. Anyways, Ice is a tactical genius with a sunglasses fetish, and a habit of narrating the action even when he shouldn't be able to see what's going on. Presumably that has something to do with him being a genius?

Ice. Manages to be a criminal mastermind whilst still providing wise little homilies, especially in his narration, in order to educate the kiddies. He's a criminal, but a responsible, well brought up one. Or something.

Next up is Alphonse. Alphonse is definitely not cool, and prefers exploding in a shower of sparks to being calm. Or anything else at all, really. Whilst Ice turned to crime because he was a bored genius, Alphonse pretty much just thought it would be fun. He's constitutionally incapable of not stealing things, although the writers have thoughtfully given him a tragic, broken home background, in order to make sure that he retains the viewers' sympathy. Why do writers always misjudge their viewers like that? Trust me, we like our crooks to be badly behaved. We don't need them to justify it.

Alphonse. Grew up in care and juvenile detention, and has since perfected the art of the Emo Stare, which he employs wherever possible. This may well be connected to the fact that he seems to be the only member of the gang that the writers trust to act.

The third member of the team is Charlie, who wound up with all the left over personality quirks that nobody else wanted. He's a jittery, hypochondriac neurotic, who's also the obligatory computer genius. Charlie presumably turned to crime by accident, as he's scared of pretty much everything. He's also much given to wild overacting at every available opportunity - although in his defence that does sort of cancel itself out against Ice's habit of just not reacting to anything at all, ever.

Charlie. Computer genius, hence the computer (the genius bit is less obvious). Spends most of his time doing a pretty accurate impersonation of a labrador puppy high on caffeine, which may or may not be intended to be endearing. It's kind of hard to tell.

Our heroes (or not-heroes, I suppose, if you want to look at it that way) are led by an agent called Chrissie. Chrissie has flashes of potential awesomeness, but is a bit hampered by always having to be sensible and by-the-book. She hasn't been shoe-horned into a romance with any of the guys though, which is definitely a point in everyone's favour.

Chrissie. Literally and figuratively upright, which is quite telling in a show where holding the camera straight seems to be thought too dull.

It's a very diagonal show, is Players. I have no idea if random outbreaks of diagonality are helpful when solving crime, but the gang have a one hundred percent clean-up record, so I suppose they must be. Everything enjoys being diagonal, it seems. Even things that, on the whole, you'd really rather stayed upright. Like buildings and cars. And car chases.

Yes, well. Maybe if you didn't keep driving at a slant, you'd spend a little less time nearly crashing into things. And what is it with school buses and car chases? They seem drawn together like atoms seeking a molecular bond. School buses, and small boys chasing balls across roads. They're always guaranteed to appear at just the right moment to allow the bad guys to escape. But anyway.

I guess if I'm honest there's nothing especially to distinguish this show from all of the other American action-adventure shows that there have been over the years - which is probably why it only lasted one season. It is fun, though. The characters are entertaining, and so are the plots. The unapologetic criminal traits of the main three - particularly Alphonse, who's practically a kleptomaniac, and perfectly happy about that - adds a different dimension too. Not that it's all fun and games. Alphonse finds out in one episode that he has a teenage son, born during one of his many stints in juvenile detention, which sets the scene for plenty of angst - not to mention the patent-pending Alphonse Emo Stare. Nonetheless, there's a lot of laughs alongside the action, and the gang are good to spend some time with. It could do with rather more depth, though. And a little less obvious posing for the cameras. And less of the arty angle camerawork. And a bit more acting from some of the cast. Okay, it could do with quite a lot of work, if I'm entirely honest. It's still good, though - or it is when using my definition of good, anyhow.

Have some more pictures, just because:

Ice, in semi-permanent fetching hat, here demonstrating a characteristic "I am cool and I have attitude" expression. This is also semi-permanent, and frequently goes hand in hand with a more-amusing-than-it-should-be matching tough guy posture.

Alphonse, displaying the team's fondness for large amounts of jewellery. Note also the emo stare, the better for indicating that, although he's a thief, he's a tortured and loveable one, which naturally makes all the difference.

Charlie on the other hand does not do emo or tough, as he's the computer geek, and is therefore better suited to tripping over things and being socially incompetent. Although to be fair to the writers, he is the only one of the team who manages to get a girlfriend. Actually he gets two, but one's a fellow con artist who's trying to murder him, so that probably doesn't entirely count.

The gang, rather impressively managing to be faintly diagonal in different directions, despite all standing in the same place. Given that they're talking to the distressed father of a kidnapped boy here, Ice's ever present tough guy attitude is even funnier than normal. And you've got to love his pimp outfit. Actually, "love" may not be quite the word that I was looking for there. Still, dodgy clothing aside, far more criminal cases ought to be solved by thieves and con artists. Based on the available evidence, it's a whole lot better than using policemen. Neal Caffrey does wear way better hats than this lot, though. Mind you, he doesn't have a pimp outfit or a diagonal car, so Los Angeles beats New York on the accessories front at least.

One last photographic exhibit while I'm at it - the people responsible for making the programme:

Yep. That's the Shaun Cassidy. He of the habit of singing at annoying moments, whilst Parker Stevenson is off doing something more interesting instead. So if you've ever wondered what happens to Hardy Boys when they grow up (which you probably haven't, I readily admit), here's your answer. Whether this beats hanging around on beaches with David Hasselhoff, wearing next to nothing, is probably a matter for debate - albeit a debate that nobody is ever likely to want to have.

Anyway, that's Players. It sprang into life in 1997, fizzled its way through a season, and then sank without trace. But I liked it. I was the only one - but then, with my viewing habits, I'm unsurprisingly accustomed to that.


( 6 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
May. 5th, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
Never heard of this one.
May. 5th, 2012 06:12 pm (UTC)
It aired very late at night, so it was easily missed.
May. 5th, 2012 04:46 pm (UTC)
I've never heard of this show either, but out of that trio I would say that Costas Mandylor was the best actor, though I think he's doing lifetime and Hallmark movies these days. (I like those. lol)

Shawn Cassidy! I've been seeing his name on interesting things. I've gotten hooked on 'Cold Case' and he's one of the producers and directors. Along with Tim Matheson, (love him) which was a surprise, but then, he has a penchant for Cold Case stuff, like the TV movie 'Buried Alive.' and the sequel with Alley Sheedy.
May. 5th, 2012 06:17 pm (UTC)
Tim Matheson is very cool. There was a sequel to "Buried Alive"?! Did the wife crawl out of her grave as well, and come back for revenge for the revenge?!

Then there could also be a "Buried Alive III", where Tim Matheson gets revenge on her for the revenge for his revenge. :)

Costas Mandylor is quite the cult figure lately. He was the star of quite a few of the "Saw" movies. I haven't seen any of them, as they're not my thing, but they seem pretty popular with the slasher movie crowd.
May. 6th, 2012 03:25 am (UTC)
LOL! revenge for revenge for revenge. Actually, his part in Buried 2 is more like a cameo. Alley Sheedy is the wronged wife who is buried alive and gets revenge, and Tim's character helps her, but he…
Spoilers ahead

Never saw the saw movies, definitely not my thing either. But you're right they are very popular.
May. 6th, 2012 08:37 am (UTC)
He dies?! Well there's a happy sequel. Does he get murdered, or does he realise that it's a pointless film, and drops dead just to get out of it?

I shouldn't be sarcastic, as the poor man needs to work, but I do wish somebody would give him a few more projects worthy of his abilities.
( 6 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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