The Player is an American action-drama TV series broadcasted on the NBC network. The Player, which was earlier named Endgame, stars Philip Winchester, of Flyboys fame, and Wesley Snipes, known for Blade Trilogy. The show was created by John Rogers and John Fox. Rogers, who is best known for the movie, Transformers and the TV series, Leverage. John Fox is the executive producer of the TV series, The Blacklist. John Rogers and John Fox also serve as executive producers of the show along with Bharat Nalluri and John Davis. The series premiered on NBC on September, 24, 2015.
The show follows the escapades of Alex Kane (Philip Winchester), who was a former intelligence officer and is now a security expert in Las Vegas. One night he is trying to rebuild his relationship with his ex-wife, but she gets shot by an intruder in her apartment. Enraged, Alex pursues the person in a high speed car chase. At some point during the chase, his car is hit by a car driven by Cassandra King (Charity Wakefield). Kane wakes up in a hospital and learns that he is a suspect in a murder. He escapes from there and is found by Cassandra, who is known professionally as The Dealer. She takes him to her boss, Mr. Johnson (Wesley Snipes), who is known professionally as The Pit Boss. This is where the plot of the series unfolds.
A large group of billionaires has come together and funded a computer, which can predict the crimes before they even happen. Of course, the billionaires have no interest to use that computer for the benefit of humanity and have decided to use it as a betting tool. They appoint a suitable candidate as The Player, whose job is to stop the crimes predicted by the computer. The billionaires, then take bets on the outcome of the crime as to whether The Player is able to stop the crime or not. So, in a way, maybe these billionaires really are using it to stop crime, but in their own lofty way that is a source of their amusement. The last person appointed for the role died, and the job has now fallen in the lap of Alex, should he choose it. Alex is promised that if he plays along with the game, then the billionaires will help him find the murderers of his wife.
Alex rejects the offer initially. But, when he visits the body of his wife in the morgue, he notices that she doesn’t have her ring tattoo anymore. So he gets suspicious of the whole affair, and decides to investigate from the inside. He eventually accepts the offer. The rules of the game are simple. He can talk about his job only to Cassandra King, and the job is for life. With that settled, he buckles himself for assignments, knowing fully well that if any of them go haywire, it could mean his last day on earth. In all of this, only Detective Cal Brown, who is a longtime friend of Alex, is truly by his side. He is also unwillingly drawn into the game as he helps Alex.
The series has a small permanent cast. Philip Winchester plays the role of Alex Kane, the intelligence officer turned security expert, who is the latest The Player in the game of the wealthy. To carry out his various heroic tasks, The Player is provided all sorts of equipment – fast cars, guns, and cool gadgets. Wesley Snipes dons the role of the mysterious and powerful, Mr. Johnson aka The Pit Boss. Snipes’ character is analytical, intimidating, and exudes power. He manages The Game from the top. He is generally away from the action, but he is more than capable of cleaning the mess, when things go out of control. Wesley is known to have rejected more than a few offers for TV shows. Clearly, he sees something in the character of Mr. Johnson.
The role of Cassandra King, The Dealer, is played by Charity Wakefield, of The Raven fame. Cassandra is a tech genius and has her own history in the world of intelligence. She might appear vulnerable at times, but is far more powerful and deadly than what she looks. In fact, she still retains enough friends/command to make airstrikes happen, according to her whims and wishes. Alex’s only real friend in all of this, Detective Cal Brown, is portrayed by Damon Gupton. Gupton is an upcoming actor whose previous credits include four episodes of Fox’s Empire and the WEtv thriller, The Divide, which was cancelled after it completed the first season. The other members of the cast are Daily Betts as Alex’s wife Ginny, and Nick Wechsler as Cassandra’s boyfriend, Nick.
After hitting success with the show, The Blacklist, NBC took upon itself to repeat the success in a similar fashion. Half of the production team from The Blacklist was brought together to create another TV show for the network. The result is The Player. Executive producers of The Blacklist, John Davis and James Fox, are among the executive producers of The Player. Similarly, Davis Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television are again producing for NBC. The network announced the pilot for the series on May 8, 2015, and had immediately given the “go ahead” for the series, which premiered on September 24, 2015. However, it is not clear how many seasons of the show have been ordered.
The Player has received mostly negative ratings from critics, while the audience has given it an average review. The series has been most criticized for its lack of story, and for not bringing anything original to the table. Winchester shows little to no emotions other than being perpetually angry, presumably on account of his ex-wife’s death. Snipes manages to deliver “seemingly cool” lines, but his character is limited to black suits and expressionless facial movements. None of the characters in the show can be recognized with by the audience. All that the show does is depend heavily on a high amount of testosterone-filled action packed scenes involving car chases, gun fights, blasts, and so on. Critics agree that the show needs to grow out of the comfort zone, set by The Blacklist.