Paramount+ series ‘The Game’ kicks off for the third time

Rick's Reviews

Wendy Raquel Robinson and Hosea Chanchez star in the latest version of “The Game.” (Photo courtesy of Paramount+)

Wendy Raquel Robinson continues to be amazed that a new version of the comedy/drama series “The Game” is ready to launch. Her surprise is justified because the show has launched and died multiple times since its debut in 2006. But, the latest version of “The Game” will be available Nov. 11 on the streaming service of Paramount+.

The series that deals with star athletes and the good and bad people in their lives has had homes on the CW Network and the cable channel BET. And, Robinson has been part of each incarnation playing sports agent Tasha Mack who is the mother of footballer Malik Wright (Hosea Chanchez).

“I’m blown away, number one, for it to be the third reincarnation of this particular show. When I say it was a total surprise, it was a total shocker,” Robinson says. “It was kind of like ‘pinch me. Is this really, really happening?’

“To revisit a show after almost an eight—year hiatus, it’s not only intimidating, it’s humbling, it’s grounding, but it’s so exciting.”

What has Robinson so excited is a series that has moved locations from San Diego to Las Vegas. That’s where a mix of new players and original cast members will present a modern-day examination of Black culture through the prism of pro football. The team will tackle racism, sexism, classism and more as they fight for fame, fortune, respect and love.

The other players include: Adriyan Rae as Brittany Pitts, the daughter of Jason and Kelly Pitts; Vaughn Hebron as Jamison Fields, an undrafted free agent; Analisa Velez as Raquel Navarro, Brittany’s best friend; and Toby Sandeman as Garret Evans, the top football player in the league. You can see their work when “The Game” launches with a two-part premiere episode with subsequent episodes of the 10-episode first season being available weekly on Thursdays.

The blending of new cast members with those from past versions ended up being a smooth transition. Robinson never saw a moment where it was “old school” versus “new school” but just an organic blend that worked.

The big challenge for Robinson in returning to the role was finding the balance of a person who has seen part of her life stay stagnant while presenting something new.

“You have to elevate the characters as well. But at the same time, it’s like between those eight years, I’ve raised another child. So, my mind has just been going all over the place and just trying to ground that particular character,” Robinson says. “I run a performing arts school with young people. And I was like, ‘Well, let me use some of this,’ and nurturing the kids and seeing how they’ve grown in those eight years, and how I’ve grown to them.

“Just bring life to art, and art to life, and just make it all fantastic. So hopefully it will be something that everybody will enjoy. I know one thing. She’s still funny and she’s still feisty. You can’t lose that.”

One of the big changes is that unlike past versions that were broadcast on network and cable channels, the latest version of “The Game” will exist in the streaming world where the rules of what can be said and done are not as confining.

Robinson credits the writers with knowing just how far to go when pushing the TV envelope.

“I will honestly say the writers have been very clever in how to do it and not to overuse the language. Keeping all the artistic integrity of everything that was there before but just adding a little hot sauce here and there. It’s quite refreshing,” Robinson says.

Executive producer Devon Greggory stresses the freedoms that come by being part of a streaming service will be put to very good uses. The plan is to go deeper into issues that were off limits in the first two incarnations but are important in 2011.

He’s making those moves with a series that has died twice before. Greggory is convinced the show kept finding new life because the characters were so real.

Greggory adds, “I just think it never got old. It just had to have an opportunity to reboot itself. See, a lot of times series don’t get that opportunity while they’re on the air. I think that’s a mistake for a lot of different television entities and a lot of different production companies.

“We should be allowed to evolve while we’re on the air. Now because we had a hiatus, ‘Oh, it’s cool to do it and bring it back.’ I never think, even in the interim time, these characters never got stale or old. They were always fresh.”

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