Sunday, April 10, 2016

Straight Netflix'ing: The Ranch

As you all know, Sam Elliott is the man. The gravelly voiced dude with sweet hair and mustache from Shakedown, Road House, Tombstone, The Big Lebowski, We Were Soldiers, Hulk and many more is the epitome of cinematic cool and seems pretty chill in real life. Elliott is currently co-starring in the just released Netflix sitcom The Ranch with Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson and Debra Winger. I had seen a few blurbs stating that he and Winger were highlights of the comedy/drama series and several friends on Facebook seemed to be enjoying the show so we popped it on during a lazy Saturday. We were supposed to go see a few movies but after three weekends of gripping and ripping along with rainy weather, it seemed like the perfect day to kick back, eat a lot of food, drink a bit of whiskey and tear through a new series.

Created by TWO AND A HALF MEN's Jim Patterson and Don Reo, The Ranch starts at a modest (and very TV set looking) ranch in Colorado where high school sensation turned professional washout Colt Bennett (Kutcher) returns and starts helping out dad Beau (Elliott) and brother Rooster (Masterson). Son and father have lots of issues as Colt smoked, drank and screwed away every opportunity while Beau has been struggling making ends meet on the ranch for decades. Immediately the show is a strange mix of sitcom yuks and actual family/life drama with a bit of cursing thrown in that threw me off. You get bar owning mother Maggie (Winger) who is still married to and sleeping with Beau but lives on her own, to give the elder actors their own subplots. Then there's former along with current flames Abby (Elisha Cuthbert) and Heather (Kelli Goss) for Colt. The series basically hinges on Beau's old school macho man who won't accept help or consider other people's opinions and Colt's easy going and charming washout loser dynamic. Everyone in the cast does well for themselves but it's Elliott who drew me in as I would not be setting aside large chunks of time to watch Kutcher. As the cantankerous Beau, Elliott uses his gnarly voice and bitching mustache to full effect as he makes fun of modern convenience, fashion and food (Almond Milk is referred to as nut juice, Uggs are for women, etc.) and gets to say the F word a lot.

It's impossible to keep up with Netflix's original output so a semi low brow show with heart aimed at middle America starring multiple familiar faces really caught me by surprise. The show is set up like any sitcom whether it's Two and a Half Men or The Big Bang Theory with a few regular locations and the odd actual outdoor scene shot along a random side of a road. Randomly you get one episode appearances from the likes of Rex Linn (Cliffhanger), Thomas F. Wilson (Back to the Future) and Kutcher's former co-star Jon Cryer (sporting a clean bald head). All in The Ranch is an enjoyable 10 episodes where humor is usually hanging around sex jokes and guys getting hit in the nuts mixed with an unexpected amount of dialog focused on family dynamics, parenting, love and regret. Set on a ranch in Colorado, there's no jokes aimed at rural America but gives a fair glance at small town living, farming, animals, drinking and guns. You even have dinner at Cracker Barrel instead of some generic show hang out. There was actually a lot of clear but not oppressive product placement for Budweiser, Jameson, Muscle Milk, Ajax, Chips Ahoy and more which makes me wonder how much of the shows costs were covered by manufacturers. Apparently Netflix picked up the series for 20 episodes and will release the next 10 at a later date. From there we'll see if it's picked up for a second season and give the world more of what it needs, Sam Elliott being a and the man.

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