In Season 2 of Ballers, things are getting more competitive and complicated for retired football star turned financial manager Spencer Strasmore. As the lines between professional and personal blur in his pursuit of lasting success and glory, Spencer must face demons from the past when he goes head-to-head with the biggest business manager on the scene. Meanwhile, Spencer's closest friends and clients struggle to find their footing. A humbled Ricky (John David Washington, former pro-football player) explores his options as a free agent, while getting to know the father who left him behind; Charles (Omar Miller) tries to balance a new baby and his future in the game; and Vernon (Donovan Carter) deals with the consequences of his life off the field. Returning to help Spencer juggle lucrative deals and big personalities are his outrageous business partner, Joe (Rob Corddry), level-headed agent, Jason (Troy Garity) and girlfriend/sports reporter, Tracy (Arielle Kebbel). In a business where it's go big or go home, Spencer and his crew are about to learn that having it all means being ready to fight for more dollars, deals and respect.
The second season of 'Ballers' is much like its first season. Bathed in the sun-drenched visuals of Miami cool guys wear tailored suits and drink fancy tequila while trying to make money.
Like 'Entourage' it's easy to fall into a stupor while watching 'Ballers.' It's an easy-going series that works well in the half-hour slot. As a comedy it's occasionally funny. They try to throw in dramatic elements here and there, but for the most part whenever the show tries to get serious it simply muddies the waters.
Spencer Strasmore (Dwayne Johnson) is an ex-football player who is finding some success as a financial manager for some of the NFL's elite talent. The show follows him, and buddy Joe (Rob Corddry) as they try to woo clients.
The show wouldn't be the least bit interesting if all it did was focus on wealth management, so Spencer and Joe routinely find themselves facing hijinks and wacky misadventures. Like when their star client is injured in a paintball game and they go into damage control mode.
The second season throws a new wrench into the works as an old nemesis of Spencer comes back into his life. Andre Allen (Andy Garcia) is this season's main bad guy. He runs a rival agency and he's out to tank Spencer's business.
Subplots include: aging wide receiver Ricky Jerret (John David Washington) hemming and hawing over which team to sign with for what will probably be his final multi-year contract of his career; super-agent Jason (Troy Garity) trying to win the heart of prospective client and hillbilly football phenom Travis Mach (Adam Aalderks); and retired offensive lineman Charles Greene (Omar Benson Miller) settling into a new role in the Miami Dolphins coaching staff.
Greene is probably my favorite character of the whole show. His story about a player becoming a coach is genuinely interesting. Especially, when he has to face down players – who were once his friends – and cut them. The tables have turned and the show does a decent job portraying the difficulties a situation like that would present.
There's a lot of ego and testosterone flowing around this season and none of it all that intriguing. One of the main drawbacks of this show, like 'Entourage,' is that it lacks substantial female characters. As one might guess, using Miami as the show's main backdrop, most of the women on screen are used as window dressing or love interests. None of them have meaningful characters or arcs. They seem to exist solely to wear bathing suits when called upon. It's tiresome.
Johnson has charisma. He's always had it. He can make the most mundane, average productions watchable. That's what he does for 'Ballers.' His presence makes the show bearable. Without him there's no way it would be starting up a third season on HBO (I can't believe it's getting a third season!). Never underestimate the power of The Rock.
'Ballers' is just there. I'm surprised that it got renewed, but apparently it has its fans. There's nothing to it though. Like its setting the whole thing feels superficial and surface-deep. It's a way to pass the time, but don't expect much else.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is a 2-disc set that comes with two 50GB Blu-rays. There are 10 episodes total in season two, and five episodes on each disc. They're packed in a standard keepcase that comes with a slipcover.
The 1080p presentation provided by HBO is identical to the one they gave us for the first season. The picture is full of oversaturation, bright sunny colors, and larger-than-life visuals.
There's a yellowish hue that drapes itself over everything. That's just the way it is. It makes everything look even sunnier than it is. If there's one thing the visuals convey it's that it doesn't matter where the characters are, it looks hot there. It's hot everywhere. The bright sun-soaked scenes offer some bright, vivid colors and strong detail. Wide shots of the Miami skyline are crisp and lack any sort of aliasing or banding.
Night scenes and club scenes feature some deep blacks. It's a good contrast to the constant sun shine. The darker scenes have depth and never feel flat. Even with a show as average as 'Ballers' HBO still puts out a strong Blu-ray transfer. There's nothing to complain about here. If you like the way the first season looked in high-def then this one will please as well.
The same goes for the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix. There's really no discernible difference from the first season. It's solid and does what it does well.
There's a lot of talking in 'Ballers' and dialogue is clear and easily heard. There's also a lot of hip-hop music on the soundtrack and also in quite a few scenes. This provides moments of deep bass and a small workout for the sub-woofer.
Rear channels aren't engaged regularly, but find some time to shine during group gatherings, and parties. A scene in the Everglades with Jason provides some nice nature sounds in the surrounds, but other than that it's the standard stuff with parties and bars. Just ambient sound.
Inside the Episodes (HD, 30 min.) – Both discs offer “Inside the Episodes” content which, all totaled up, equal about a half-hour of featurette time. These are quick snippets of behind-the-scenes footage for each episode. Pretty standard stuff.
If you enjoyed the first season of 'Ballers' then season two is right up your alley. They haven't changed the formula at all. For me it's just too much of the same thing. It never finds a way to extricate itself from its self-imposed narrative rut. It's just too easy to turn your brain off while watching it. The technical aspects are solid, however, the show is just average. For fans only.