TNTs Scripted Drama Is No Bull


Turner Network Television's first foray into the scripted-drama-series genre gives the programmer good reason to be bullish on its future endeavors.

Bull-an hour-long drama about young stock-market turks who break with the Street's most powerful firm to venture out on their own-boasts a solid cast, one of the creators of the long-running NBC hit Law and Order and, if the pilot's any indication, a great deal of promise.

George Newbern (Father of the Bride) is Robert "Ditto" Roberts III, a member of the family that controls one of Wall Street's most prestigious firms, Meriwether & Mark. But the family business is anything but happy.

Ditto doesn't get along with his grandfather, a taciturn, old-school Wall Street power broker whom the traders on the floor refer to as "The Kaiser." He's played with steely menace by veteran character actor Donald Moffat.

Although The Kaiser sees an heir in Ditto, he doesn't see eye-to-eye with his grandfather on how the firm is run, and he also wants to make his mark by creating one of his own. So he enlists five friends to join him in his quest, each one with something to lose from the venture.

His partners include such familiar faces as Malik Yoba (New York Undercover) as an African-American broker struggling with the Street's "glass ceiling."

But it's Stanley Tucci (Joe Gould's Secret)-the best known of the regulars-who steals the show as Wall Street rainmaker Hunter Lasky, a lawyer who first throws hurdles in the renegades' way. They can't beat him, so they eventually invite him to join them. Lasky's behind-the-scenes maneuvers provide most of the plot's dramatic twists.

Also of note are Alicia Coppola (of soap opera Another World), who portrays Marisa Rufo, a broker with a blue-collar background who has doubts about giving up the security of Meriwether & Mark, and Christopher Wiehl as Carson Boyd, a young broker with a talent for picking stocks who unwittingly gets caught up in the high-stakes poker game.

Creator Michael S. Chernuchin is also the series' head writer, and he delivers an overall strong script. There are a few clichés, but the acting is sublime enough that one doesn't notice the script's more melodramatic moments.

The pilot, however, is a bit cluttered as the writers try to introduce each member of the large ensemble cast. Nonetheless, it's a drama series with a positive outlook.

Bull premieres Tuesday, Aug. 15 at 10 p.m. on TNT.