TV Series Review
"Meanwhile, back at the ranch …"
The cliché seems to come from old silent movies. Moviegoers at the time weren't used to the whole whiplash scene changes that we are today. So to transition from one plot point to another, directors often made use of "screen titles" to indicate that, "Hey, we're shifting time or moving locations now, so don't freak." And at first, the phrase probably referred to, y'know, an actual ranch.
But those screen titles were expensive to put together, and budget-minded directors sometimes used slides from earlier movies: "A year passed" was a favorite recycled slide, for instance. Or "wedding bells," because almost all silent movies always had some sort of nuptials. And even though not all silent movies had a ranch, somehow that slide, "Meanwhile, back at the ranch …" got used again and again anyway.
See? Now you can impress your friends with a new little nugget of old information. I wanted to make sure that you reading this review was not a complete waste of time. Because, frankly, the show we're reviewing here might be.
A Little Ranch Dressing
Colt Bennett was a high school football hero back in the day. A talented quarterback, he wowed the small town of Garrison, Colo., with his athletic acumen and then rode off the family ranch with nary a look back—the possibility of superstardom within his grasp. But while Colt could throw a football with the best of 'em, he also excelled at getting thrown out of every organization that gave him a chance. He drank too much, slept around a lot and had a habit of punching team mascots in the face. At age 34, it seems unlikely that the Patriots'll be giving him a call anytime soon.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, things aren't much better. Colt returns home to find his father, Beau, struggling to keep the family acreage afloat—a task made all the harder because of a severe drought. He just let his one hired hand go, and Beau and his oldest son, Rooster, can't do all the work themselves. So Colt hangs up his cleats and settles into this home, home on the range again—where the deer and the antelope may play, but Colt doesn't. At least not football. Oh, and his pops still has plenty of discouraging words for him, too.
The Big Bovine Theory
The Ranch feels very much like a standard Chuck Lorre comedy (think The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly and star Ashton Kutcher's old show, Two and a Half Men) but without all those broadcast restrictions that Lorre felt were so irksome. Sure, Kutcher's Two and a Half Men character Walden Schmidt may have talked about sex all the time on CBS. Netflix might show him having it. And those "clever" made-up phrases for various private body parts or sex acts that successfully dodged the censors in Men? No need for that obfuscation, either. If Beau's ranch was showered with as much rain as it is profanity, well, the place would be a fish farm instead of a dust bowl.
The slow-motion reconciliation story we see between Colt and Beau feels real and is, consequently, touching. But that's not nearly enough to save this Ranch.
In the first episode, Colt confronts his pops with the man's tendency to drive people away. Colt left. Beau's wife, Maggie left. If the gate's left unlatched even the cows will leave. Sounds like a hint that maybe we should leave, too.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Ashton Kutcher as Colt Bennett; Elisha Cuthbert as Abby; Grady Lee Richmond as Hank; Danny Masterson as Jameson 'Rooster' Bennett; Debra Winger as Maggie Bennett; Sam Elliott as Beau Bennett