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Jack Davis
Jack Davis

The Deuce - Pilot ... UPDATED

This first episode of a television series that will purportedly explain why the hell people thought porn would go mainstream in the 1970s (and how it kind of ultimately did, even if it failed to become the date night fantasy that Travis Bickle dreamed it to be) is off to a strong start simply by grooving off the high that cesspool-snorting can create. It is not yet clear whether eight episodes (or years) of foreplay in building the modern porn industry will make for exciting television, but it certainly makes for a wistful pilot crackling with intensity in a period set before crack was even a thing.

The Deuce - Pilot ...

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"Pilot" is the first episode of the American television drama series The Deuce. It premiered on September 10, 2017, on premium cable network HBO; the pilot was released in advance on HBO streaming service HBO Go on August 25.[1] The episode was written by creators and showrunners George Pelecanos and David Simon, and was directed by Michelle MacLaren.

Judging solely by the premiere, this might shape up to be David Simon's most accessible work to date. It crackles with wit and confidence, qualities you usually wouldn't attribute to pilots. Often, even the best television shows begin with pilots that are weighed down with the tedious yet wholly necessary task of simple introductions and spelling out in the simplest terms What The Show is All About. The difference is that this pilot makes a fine meal out of those necessary nuts and bolts, and its thematic resonance is neatly imbued in the characterisation.

As for the show's stars, James Franco is more than one of the leads, playing identical twin brothers Vinny and Frankie Martino. The former is a bartender working two gigs on "both sides of the river," as he puts it, while the latter is gambler in debt to the mob. Vinny is the focus at the beginning of the pilot: He's mugged while dropping off the bar's earnings and makes his way back home to what appears to be a single-family, standalone house in Borough Park, Brooklyn. (We see him catch the B train, which did indeed run from the Fort Hamilton Parkway station in the early '70s. Today, the D runs from that stop.)

The Deuce has a strong female point of view, perhaps thanks to the fact that several episodes were directed by women, including the pilot, and Gyllenhaal being one of the producers. This shows when we follow Candy home and see her cast off her nighttime persona. She lives in an ordinary one-bedroom in the East 80s, where she counts her earnings and sets some aside for her son, who lives with her mother. And here the show again reveals the skyrocketing prices of real estate: it's highly unlikely someone like Candy could afford an Upper East Side rental today.

The pilot ends with a moment of violence that reminds us that while 1970s New York was in some ways thrilling, permeated by a sense of possibility and opportunity, it was also often a cruel and dangerous place.

While the show is incredibly well done and I'm fascinated by how they use live locations and green screen (even though I worked on movies in NYC), the pilot depressed the shit out of me and I haven't watched it since. I'll just wait for "The Duce" sex scenes compilation someone will no doubt produce for online consumption - just like those Playboy retrospectives I used to "read."

I've only seen The Deuce pilot. Terrific actors, but it/they felt strained, a little too cliche and self-conscious. Maybe it was my own self-consciousness. Or maybe watching it at 1 am makes it creepy. Or maybe it is creepy. I don't know. Looking forward to next episode. 041b061a72


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