Bookie, the acclaimed crime-comedy show starring Sebastian Maniscalco, has been *ahem* booked for a season outing just weeks after its season 1 finale.
Per Variety, the Max series, which is the brainchild of Chuck Lorre (The Big Bang Theory) and Nick Bakay (The Angry Beavers), will return for its sophomore season on HBO Max's successor after it proved to be enough of a critical and commercial success.
Set in Los Angeles, Bookie follows beleaguered sports veteran bookie Danny (Maniscalco) and his partner, former NFL star Ray (Omar Dorsey), as they try to stay one step ahead of the authorities amid their fast-paced gambling-centric lifestyle.
The west coast setting is crucial here, because California hasn't yet legalized sports betting – and that means there's what The Chicago Sun Times describes as a "sense of impending doom" looming over Danny's illegal activities, which will soon be eclipsed by the same deep pockets and big budgets that characterise legal sports betting in the US. Bookie's hook about two men trying to stay afloat in a world that's changing before their eyes, then, is a good one to hang on a fairly old storytelling trope.
In a statement via a Max press release, Warner Bros. Television Group chairman Channing Dungey said: "There's no doubt that Chuck and Nick’s Bookie won big this season as they took us on a hilarious ride into the underbelly of illegal sports gambling, featuring a cast led by another dynamic duo: Sebastian Maniscalco and Omar J. Dorsey. I'm looking forward to watching more of their antics in season two. Congratulations to the entire cast and crew, and thanks to our partners at Max."
What did the critics say about Bookie season 1?
Unusually for a Max TV show, there aren't tons of reviews out there. Given that some reviewers noted they were only given one episode to view, it does sound like one of the world's best streaming services wasn't entirely confident about the likely reception Bookie would be met with.
Indeed, some reviews suggested Warner Bros. Discovery – Max's parent company – might have been right to be cautious. After watching that single episode, RogerEbert.com critic Brian Tallerico was clearly in no mood to sign up for more after enduring what he described as "awful writing" and "archaic" humor of the lazy-trans-joke variety. The presence of controversial actor Charlie Sheen as an in-denial gambling addict running a poker game from rehab was likely a turn-off for some, too.
Despite the above, of the handful of reviews that have been published, most are positive. The Daily Beast's Chris Vognar liked its "comical bleakness" and "shaggy looseness", although Bookie sometimes "tries too hard". The aforementioned Sun Times article also opined it was a "solid and funny comedy", before noting its review was based on the singlular episode, so Bookie's success was "not a sure thing, but it’s a 7-point favorite to endure."
Bookie, then, appears to be one of those shows that you'll find very funny or excruciating to watch. You can see which category you're likely to fall into by watching the trailer above or by checking the series' first season, which is available in full on Max (US) or Binge (Australia) now. Unfortunately, UK viewers are still waiting for it to make it streaming debut. Those of you on British shores will have to wait and see if it's worth the hype and potential inclusion in our best Max shows list, then.
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.
- Tom PowerSenior Entertainment Reporter