A time machine is about to open later this week and I strongly suggest that you get in and take a ride back to 1985 with Red Oaks. With the whole 10-episode first season debuting on October 9 on Amazon, Red Oaks, as my video review above says, may be one of the best things the streaming service has put up since the ground breaking Transparent.
Or to put it another way, the new comedy is like a long lost pre-Breakfast Club John Hughes indie franchise finally seeing the light of day. Whether or not you are a child of the 1980s, I think you will be charmed, amused and true-to-life touched by this series.
Now, the Paul Reiser, Jennifer Grey, Richard Kind, and Craig Roberts-starring and Gregory Jacobs and Joe Gangemi-created tale of a summer 30 years ago at a suburban country club in New Jersey doesn’t have the deep contemporary cultural and political ramifications and reach of Jill Soloway’s Emmy-winning series. Few shows do or could, but what Red Oaks does share with Transparent is a very keen and solid sense of who and what it is, a rare trait in today’s TV world.
Part of that definitive approach on Red Oaks, which debuted as a pilot on Amazon last year, has to come from having Stephen Soderbergh, who really is leaping from strength to strength in TV, as an EP. Then there are indie masters like David Gordon Green, Amy Heckerling and Hal Hartley, making his small screen debut, as directors. Helming the first two episodes, and the finale, the Pineapple Express and upcoming Our Brand Is Crisis director nicely sets to the tone of the story of NYU student David Meyers (Roberts) putting in one more summer at the club as an assistant tennis instructor before stepping into a seemingly pre-set adulthood as an accountant.
Which means Red Oaks has a lot of amateur tennis, a broken marriage or two, corporate raiding, teen love, period perfect big hair and a well placed Apocalypse Now reference. It also has the great Gina Gershon, and wonderful music, some of which could have come from a classic John Carpenter flick of the era. Those of are just a few of the reasons you should check it out – the main reason is because it is very good indeed.
So take a look at my video review of Red Oaks and tell us what you think.