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Amazon Pilot Review: ‘Cocked’

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Amazon could have a solid family drama in Cocked, even with the touchy subject matter. Unfortunately, it’s lacking mightily on the workplace drama and mystery front.

The Paxson family is big in the gun industry. At the head of the company is Wade Paxson (Brian Dennehy), but his degenerate son Grady (Jason Lee) is next in line. When Grady’s next big idea is stolen by their competitor Rayburn Arms, which is run by Wade’s younger brother, the company loses 18 million dollars. And so, the company owes people some serious money and those individuals send some muscle after Wade’s other son Richard (Sam Trammell). Estranged from the family, he ran away and must return home to get to the bottom of his attack. Richard agrees to keep his family safe, but the stay becomes extended indefinitely when Wade leaves him the company.

I am thankful for the return of Jason Lee, and the exploration of a family with interesting dynamics, but not much else. Cocked is four parts character and one part bad storytelling.

The gun world is a risky choice for a series and while Cocked navigates around the major pitfall, it does create some of its own problems. Gun control and violence are issues that have elevated in relevance throughout the last couple of years, but the combination of the tone and both sides of the debate present within the family side-step the issue in Cocked. Or it could be that the heinous moves just outshine any issues I had with the subject matter.

Marketing the product to a new demographic is a good business move and choosing the LGBT community was a wise choice for the reaction it would elicit in the Paxson clan. It’s the choice to make the advertisements work instantly and then have the LGBT community fully back Paxson after one advertisement. However, it diminished an entire group of people by making them look so simple. The choices made in terms of storytelling were wrong at almost every turn. By the time they slipped in a mystery in the last seconds, I couldn’t care less.

Cocked is not all bad, as there is a great family drama in there somewhere. Jason Lee’s Grady is so ridiculous, but the actor’s ability makes him interesting. Incidentally, the difficult relationship between Richard and his brother/father could make for a powerful storyline. Richard himself will have to balance just how much of his family he lets back after committing himself to running the business. Add in Richard’s wife and kids, split opinions on guns and the idea of the next generation inheriting the business, and we have the makings of a compelling family drama.

Plot mishaps will undoubtedly happen and Cocked may overcome those, but I fear the choices already made serve as evidence of what might come in the future. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see Jason Lee and Sam Trammell fight and work together, but Cocked has so much working against it.

-Alamin Yohannes

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