Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spotlight: Showtime Network's: Barbershop The Series

Barbershop The Series is a new original comedy series airing on the Showtime Network from the producers of the film Barbershop. The series is poignantly set in southside Chicago. The series is fairly entertaining, nicely written and well- cast.

The new series is all about an old-fashioned barbershop in what's called a transitional neighborhood in Chicago. Calvin (Omar Gooding) owns and runs the shop, which he inherited from his father. He's a good man, trying to keep up with the times and make a living in a world where even the word "barbershop" is an anachronism. As in the film, the other cutters include the hot-tempered Terri (Toni Trucks), a Nigerian (Gbenga Akinnagbe), a seen-it-all veteran named Eddie (Barry Shabaka Henley), a white kid who thinks he can cut African American hair (John Wesley Chatham) and an ex-con named Romadal (Dan White), whom Calvin hires at his wife's insistence.

Some of the plot developments in the first episode replicate incidents in the "Barbershop" films. The rest of the cutters, for example, are not too happy about Romadal's hiring. For the most part, however, what happens in the premiere seems specifically created to introduce the characters to the audience. Or, more to the point, "re-introduce," since the series' characters pretty much replicate those in the films. We learn that Terri can't resist getting in anyone's face when she's challenged by Chatham to go for 24 hours without losing her temper. There's a funny bit where Yinka (Akinnagbe) seeks help from Calvin in "talking dirty" to women and, of course, someone walks in on the discussions and thinks the two guys are about to get busy.

Most of the cast is pretty strong. Gooding (yes, he's Cuba's brother) is a warm, likable personality who fills the calm anchor position created by Ice Cube in the film. Mr. Cube, as the New York Times might say, is one of the series' executive producers. I rather liked Troy Garity as the token white cutter in the shop, but Chatham could rise in the role. Trucks seems to have the goods to deliver Terri's outsize and outspoken personality. Henley has some funny moments, but he seems to be ACTING most of the time. This is an enjoyable, well-cast series