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A man in full TV review

STORYLINEWhen Atlanta real estate mogul Charlie Croker suddenly goes bankrupt, political and business interests collide as Charlie defends his empire against those who try to profit from his fall from grace. From Showrunner/Writer/Executive Producer David E. Kelley, A Man in Full is based on the New York Times bestseller by the late Tom Wolfe.

JUDGEMENT: Jeff Daniels has had a career of critically acclaimed stage performances in Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation To kill a mockingbird and on the big screen in dozens of dramas, as well as his iconic turn in the Stupid and stupider films opposite Jim Carrey. To say the actor has a wide range would be an understatement. As a follow-up to his brilliant turn in Sorkin’s HBO series The newsroom, Daniels is headlining the Netflix limited series A man in full stature, thus channeling the most nefarious antagonistic characters he has ever played. With an Atlanta accent and a biting humor, Charlie Croker is an indelible addition to Jeff Daniels’ resume. Featuring an equally strong supporting cast including Diane Lane, Lucy Liu, Tom Pelphrey and more, A man in full size is a solid series, but one that not only pales in comparison to its source material, but also in comparison to the achievements it showcases.

Acclaimed journalist Tom Wolfe wrote only four novels in his lifetime, including his debut, The bonfire of vanities, which was the inspiration for the disappointing film of the same name. Eleven years later, A man in full size was published and did something for the 1990s Vanities did before the 1980s. In adapting the 700-plus page book for Netflix, David E. Kelley made some updates to keep the material relevant to modern audiences while maintaining the core story. The six-episode series follows Atlanta real estate mogul Charlie Croker (Jeff Daniels) as his empire collapses before his eyes. The series opens with a lavish sixtieth birthday party complete with a live performance by Shania Twain (playing herself) and followed by an interesting sex scene in a stable. The series shifts to the plot of banker Harry Zane (Bill Camp) and Croker’s loan officer Raymond Peepgrass (Tom Pelphrey) to take him down. As the series progresses, we see every hateful and hateful act between the warring factions as they figuratively burn Atlanta to the ground.

The main line of A man in full size is the downfall of Croker, something Jeff Daniels plays with fire and energy. Equally strong is his ex-wife, Martha Croker, played by Diane Lane. While Charlie is remarried to Serena (Sarah Jones), he maintains a strong but hostile relationship with Martha and her close friend and business partner Joyce Newman (Lucy Liu). Of course, things can’t be as simple as a lawsuit to save Charlie, as his fight over his billion-dollar debt comes at the same time as other challenges, including the mayor of Atlanta (William Jackson Harper), who needs help from Charlie’s legal counsel. Roger White (Aml Ameen). Roger is one of the more interesting characters in this series because he represents the other side of the unspoken racial divide in Atlanta that has been key to Charlie Croker’s business success.

By eliminating the majority of the subplots from the novel, the series was presented as a simpler story about the core characters. However, it still remains a showcase for Charlie Croker. Jeff Daniels owns every scene he’s in, and there are so many excellent performances here, especially Tom Pelphrey, Sarah Jones and Bill Camp, that they would have received more acclaim if they weren’t behind the towering figures of Daniels and Lane. It is also striking that one of the most important events of the novel is missing, but not one; two horse erections still play a prominent role in the story. Take that for what it’s worth, but A man in full size it still feels like there’s too much going on, but it never gets the chance to delve deeper into its meaning, leaving the series with a soap-like surface gloss.

David E. Kelley returns to the legal drama with this series after great success Big little lies And Nine perfect strangers, successfully edited bestseller novels. He combines the character melodrama of those stories with his previous hit dramas The practice, Boston Legal, And Ally McBeal. Like it Ally McBeal, the characters in it A man in full size at times comes across as larger-than-life and borders on unrealistic, but Kelley’s penchant for dialogue keeps the series firmly on one side of that line. The six episodes were split between directors Regina King (One night in Miami) and Thomas Schlamme. Regina King knows acting, which greatly influences her work here behind the camera, balancing the large cast of characters and varied subplots. Likewise, Thomas Schlamme has been working with Aaron Sorkin for years on all of his series going back The West Wing. A man in full size definitely has a Sorkin-lite feel to it, which can be a compliment or an insult.

A man in full size is a difficult series to review because the cast’s solid performances outweigh the superficial material they have to work with. Regina King and Thomas Schlamme direct the series well and draw Atlanta into the story as a character, but the lack of depth in the story prevents it from being as deep as it could have been. A man in full size wanted to emulate the bite and power of Succession And Yellowstone but doesn’t have enough satire to compete with the former or embrace the soapy melodrama like the latter. Jeff Daniels is on par with Brian Cox’s fiery Logan Roy here, but seeing this empire isn’t nearly as fun. I’m sure audiences will enjoy this show, which has enough sex and face-slapping to keep casual viewers entertained, even if there are two too many horse penises on display.

A man in full size premieres op May 2 on Netflix.