The ‘time of winning’ ends with a loss

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In the HBO season 2 finale Time to win: the rise of the Lakers dynasty, Celtics owner Red Auerbach (Michael Chiklis) has the last laugh. Amid a haze of cigarette smoke and a flurry of champagne showers, Red, wielding the newly minted Larry O’Brien Trophy, looks directly into the camera (and into the very soul of Lakers owner Jerry Buss (John C . Reilly), and proclaims: “Leave the dynasties to us.”

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In an ironic twist of fate, Time to win: the rise of the Lakers dynasty ends with the Celtics adding another championship banner to the rafters of the Boston Garden and the birth of “Tragic” Johnson. On Sunday night, HBO announced that the episode would serve as the series finale. Time to win he concludes his career after just two television seasons and just two titles for the show’s Showtime Lakers out of its eventual five. Even with its rich and glamorous subject matter, the series failed to attract a large enough audience to earn a renewal, partly due to the show’s shortcomings and partly due to poor timing. Thus, although it is No how co-creators Max Borenstein and Jim Hecht initially envisioned the series finale, one of the final and lasting images of Time to win It will be a defeated Magic Johnson (Quincy Isaiah) sitting on the floor of a locker room shower after the loss to Larry Bird (Sean Patrick Small) and the Celtics in the 1984 NBA Finals.

The seven-episode second season of Time to win It had its ups and downs, but delivered a gripping finish that captured one of the most iconic NBA Finals in history. The season-long narrative is framed around the fateful playoff matchup between the Lakers and Celtics in 1984; The first episode begins with Buss’ team attempting to quickly escape the rabid Boston crowd after stealing Game 1 before the show flashes back to four years earlier, essentially picking up where the first season left off. The story that follows chronicles the Lakers’ growing pains as Magic led the team to the 1980 title after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Solomon Hughes) suffered an injury.

Throughout the first six installments of the season, Time to win divided its attention between several plot lines, including power struggles between Lakers teammates and coaches, Magic’s growing ego, a budding romance that ends in a lawsuit for Buss, the always dysfunctional relationship between Jerry and his children, the rise of head coach Pat Riley and the origins of Bird. Is a lot of narrative ground to cover in a more limited window than the series had in its first season, which had 10 episodes and focused solely on the 1979-80 NBA season. As a result, Season 2 often felt rushed, as four years passed at a sometimes arbitrary pace and the story was scattered among too many characters.

However, with the stage set for the 1984 finals, the season finale drastically slows down its pace. Months passed between scenes in previous episodes, but the finale’s nearly hour-long run focuses on a single seven-game series. There are more basketball scenes than ever as the program recreates the most famous moments of battles on the hardwood, with rigorous attention to detail. Magic freezes at the end of Game 2 with the clock winding down. The clothesline in Game 4. The scorching “Heat Game” in Boston in Game 5. The riot that followed Game 7.

As memorable as the matchup was, the 1984 Finals are a strange and unfortunate send-off for a show that was clearly designed to last longer. (After all, the series called Time to win now ends with a bitter loss to the Celtics.) Character arcs and plots are interrupted when a rather unexpected montage closes the finale to summarize what happened to the teams and key figures after the 1983-84 season, in 13 slides which last almost two minutes. Some of the season’s most tense subplots, like Magic and Cookie’s (Tamera Tomakili) beleaguered romance, seem even more frustrating in retrospect, knowing that they will never have satisfying on-screen conclusions. As Riley (Adrien Brody) tells his players during a final impassioned speech before their Game 7 showdown, they have “unfinished business” in Boston. Unfortunately, that will continue to be the case for these fictional Lakers and the many characters whose lives revolve around them when the series comes to an abrupt end.

Time to win Ultimately, it will go down as a failed effort for HBO, a series full of untapped potential that could, and maybe will, have. ought It has been a great success that lasted many seasons. The show featured the star power of a packed cast that included Reilly, Brody, Jason Clarke and, from the first season, Wood Harris and Sally Field. It had the emerging talent of Quincy Isaiah and Solomon Hughes, and even had a fantastic opening credits sequence, a bellwether of almost any hit HBO series.

Perhaps above all, it had the brand recognition of the Los Angeles Lakers and HBO coming together for a rare, high-budget sports drama series focused on one of the most pivotal eras in NBA history. As evidenced by the lengthy montage at the end, the roadmap was there for tons of drama in the years to come, including two more Finals matchups between the Lakers and Celtics, the growing popularity of the NBA, and the announcement of the Magic that he had contracted HIV and his subsequent first retirement in 1991, which effectively ended the Showtime era.

While there were plenty of narrative and pacing issues in Season 2 that might have turned viewers away over time, there weren’t enough people watching the final season from the beginning. At the beginning of August, Deadline reported that ratings had fallen 30 percent in linear and time-shifted viewing between the premieres of Season 1 and Season 2. The Entertainment Strategy Guy, a former streaming executive who analyzes the industry under a pseudonym, noted in a recent report streaming that Time to win had 1.8 million hours streamed during the week of Season 2’s premiere, according to Nielsen. That figure is a mere fraction of the broadcast hours that other “acquired” television programs, such as Dragon House either The last of usreceived in Max, and it’s only a little higher than the last season of hard hits.

Entertainment Strategy Guy, Nielsen

Some factors, in addition to the inconsistent quality of the program, could have contributed to Time to winThe lack of audience this season. For one thing, HBO decided to start releasing the final episodes in early August, well beyond the NBA and college basketball seasons. (By contrast, Season 1 premiered in early March, just as March Madness began and before the NBA playoffs.) There’s also the time of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, which have limited promotional opportunities for the series. writers and stars.

And as the entertainment strategist emailed me, the show was already facing the challenge of airing at a time of year when people typically watch less television. “Historically, July and August are slow months for linear TV (although streaming is seeing some rebound) because people go on vacation and spend time outdoors,” he said. “So it’s not just that the NBA isn’t here to provide a natural marketing synergy: TNT can boost Time to win during Thursday games, for example, but it is also the summer break. So if we add the NBA and the summer, being 30 percent down is about right.”

Cancellation of the series seemed imminent in recent weeks when reports of low viewership emerged, especially when author Jeff Pearlman, who wrote the book. Time to win is based, took to Twitter in mid-August to ask for more eyes. “I assure you: the future of “Winning Time” is at stake,” she said. wrote. “We need spectators. Strikes are devastating. Please help spread the word. Season 2 is amazing. But…HBO is big on #s.”

According to executive producer Kevin Messick in a recent interview with Vulture, HBO conveyed the possibility of a cancellation to the show’s creative team in January, and a plan was put in place in case the ax fell. A new scene was filmed in January to serve as an alternate ending, and that was the final result. The season was originally intended to end with Magic absorbing the Finals loss in the Lakers’ locker room shower, a powerful image that would have set the stage for his impending revenge against Bird and the Celtics in the upcoming playoff matchup.

Instead, the series now ends five days after the championship, and Jerry has his own version of a Lion King–chats style with his daughter Jeanie (Hadley Robinson) on the Forum floor as he explains that this Lakers kingdom will be his one day and that everything will be okay because “We damned own this.” The final montage depicts all the success that followed the Lakers, including more rings and the trade of Jerry West for the young Kobe Bryant, but it all creates a bittersweet ending to an uneven series that sometimes bordered on greatness, if only briefly. sparkles. (I could have watched an entire season focused solely on Brody’s Pat Riley.)

Yeah Time to win manages to attract a late audience, perhaps helped by recent endorsements from celebrities like the real Jeanie Buss, there’s always the chance that the show’s creators could shop it elsewhere. As Messick said Vulture, it is too early to know, but they do not rule out the possibility. “I think the plan is this: If the universe wants more Lakers, the universe knows where to find us.” So far, not enough of the universe has been tuned in.


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