A new era of sports reality-entertainment began today, with the airing of "All Or Nothing: A Season with the Arizona Cardinals" on Amazon video earlier today.
Many Cardinals and sports fans alike will be calling in "sick" to binge-watch the eight episode series covering the entirety of the season.
So how did Episode 1 turn out? Let's begin.
What I loved:
--The first thing that stood out to me was with how with a move of the mouse or a tap on the tablet screen was the information that was available at your fingertips with just a swipe of the mouth or a tap on the screen. When you hover the mouse over the screen (either while playing or paused), in the upper left corner a box with information appears giving the name and some facts about the players, coaches and personnel currently in the scene as well as some trivia. I found it a fantastic tool.
-Next, the opening scene to this first act was heartbreakingly well done. Seeing the play Carson Palmer tore his ACL against the Rams and the gut-wrenching moment that Palmer says "Oh dear God, please not my knee" is absolutely awful. Your heart bleeds for the guy. Setting that up as the context for this season was truly an excellent choice.
-Chris Johnson's conversation with Brady Keim was absolutely adorable. Shows that appearances and stereotypes are never as ironclad as we might judge on first appearance, and seeing the big teddy bear smile when Brady informed him that "a hunnded minus zero equals a hunnded" brought a smile to my face as well.
-David Johnson's coverage has been on point so far. From the story of his engagement to his first NFL touchdown, you really can feel like you're growing, struggling and learning right alongside him. There's a feeling of youthful optimism in David Johnson that isn't there with the veterans, and perhaps that infectious optimism is what being an NFL rookie is all about.
Larry Fitzgerald: "What's the playcall?"
Bruce Arians: "Get in the huddle. Get open. Go!"
What went well:
-Whoever wrote the line: "[Arians] spent 40 years wandering to find a home in the desert" deserves accolades for that ingenious turn of phrase. I can only imagine what they have in store for the later episodes as this show so far is being very well-written.
-NFL Films really did a good job of making the payoff feel more emotional, even if you're not a Cardinals fan. For example, showing David Johnson dropping passes and struggling the week before his 108-yard kickoff return makes the success feel all the more sweet. They make it so you want to root for these guys.
-The attention to quality is excellent from everything from the angles, the sound quality, the cuts and editing (Bruce Arians was mic'd for every game) but especially the music. The music was very well done, with swells and silence in all the right places.
-Keim and Bidwill talking about the length of Palmer's career was fascinating. It shows sometimes how little NFL decision-makers themselves know about how long players will play for and how they try to view the future as well.
-I liked how the show set up all its main characters & main contributors. Keim, Arians, Bidwill, Palmer, Peterson, Mathieu, Chris & David Johnson were all highlighted early in the show and it's obvious that the show will continue to follow their specific stories throughout the season.
-The pacing was also praise-worthy as was the editing. Games didn't feel rushed nor too long, and there were excellent segways such as Arians talking about David Johnson to cutting to Johnson and his fiancee. Or a quote about "one back that's a rookie and the other who just got here." Cue instant cut to Chris Johnson.
What areas could we critique?
-One spot that felt a bit rushed was the draft day coverage, which spent only a brief amount of time going over David Johnson and didn't get to see as much for the other draft picks. The Cardinals likely edited some of their war room secrets out as well, so this isn't too surprising.
-There were some big moments that were left out that help make sense in some context, such as Jay Cutler's injury in the Bears game and the Cardinals squandering a field goal opportunity, that can help seeing when the final score rolls in.
-I know the show covers the regular season, but a little bit of the preseason storylines could have been added in (like the team signing Chris Johnson due to David Johnson and Andre Ellington injuries) Precious time though to give up for the preseason though. This show isn't Hard Knocks, and it doesn't try to be.
-Where was the Larry Fitzgerald focus? That's what fans were thinking early on. Normally you'd expect Fitzgerald to be the first Cardinal focused on, but it wasn't until the 2/3rds mark until he got his proper introduction. The show will give him his due, for sure, but it also demonstrates the amount of star power on the team.
Rating: 4/5 stars
All in all, i'd give this episode a solid 4/5 stars. It serves as a great introduction, and while nothing completely stands out or was totally impactful, it accomplished its purpose: setting the stage for a memorable season.
What did you think about Episode 1? What was the best part? See the poll below to vote!
We'll be back tomorrow covering a different episode each and every day, so stay tuned for more #AllOrNothing coverage by Revenge of the Birds!
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