“Big Shots” is a show written by men, for men and about men. Only problem is, the audience for the post-“Grey’s Anatomy” timeslot that “Big Shots” occupies is predominantly women.
And women probably aren’t going to be interested in watching a bunch of rich cads complain about their spouses, exes and mistresses like a bunch of high schoolers pondering how to get laid on prom night.
The show follows James Auster (Michael Vartan), Duncan Collingsworth (Dylan McDermott), Brody Johns (Christopher Titus), and Karl Mixworthy (Joshua Malina), all of whom are CEOs or other high-ranking executives in (fictional) Fortune 500-esque companies.
It’s never established why these men are friends or even how they met in the first place.
With the exception of Vartan’s James, who finds out that his wife has been having an affair with his now dead boss, none of the characters are deserving of viewers’ empathy, or even particularly likeable. These are the type of men who rush after spilled shrimp as a man lays dying mere feet away (Brody), who check text messages from their mistress while in couples’ therapy with their wife (Karl).
Karl, the CEO of the ironically-named Devotion Pharmaceuticals, tries to juggle a suspecting wife and a clingy mistress. Malina, whose over-the-top acting style is more suited to the stage than the screen, recycles some of the wide-eyed expressions he used in “Sports Night” and “The West Wing” to convey a perpetual state of exasperation.
The pilot episode grasps any opportunity to have the foursome gather together, “Sex and the City”-style, to talk about their problems, all of which involve the opposite sex in some capacity. But it feels disjointed in parts. Karl, for instance, runs into a hotel hallway clad only in bedsheets to beg his mistress not to tell his wife about their affair, but then appears in the next scene relaxing poolside with the boys, lamenting the downfall of his marriage rather than trying to stop it.
And the show might not have much long-term potential, as the men’s escapades are bound to grow tiresome. Women generally spend time trying to avoid the type of men who are portrayed on “Big Shots,” and don’t want to see them on primetime unless they’re being used for comic relief or as the subject of criticism. Until the show’s creators understand that, this series is going to be a shot in the dark.