Saturday, July 03, 2021

All American: Homecoming (Pilot, Sort of)

It is the same teen angst, but with a different mix of sports. One of the tennis-playing stars of CW’s All American will be visiting Bringston University, a HBCU. Remember college visits? Those were fun if you could afford them. Simone Hicks does not think she will be applying there, but she has to apply somewhere after Princeton turned her down. Highly touted MLB prospect Damon Sims is not planning to apply either, but he is also drawn to Bringston in the backdoor-ish spin-off pilot of All American: Homecoming, which airs Monday as part of the current season of All American.

Sims is trying to avoid the media, who are eagerly awaiting the announcement of which team he might sign with. Ostensibly, he wants to hang with an old buddy on the Bringston baseball team, but there are other reasons (to be revealed later) why he is visiting. It is super awkward when he meets Hicks, but as their paths keep crossing, they start to develop some friendly chemistry. Not too much though, because she is still married to the football star of
All American.

Presumably, if you enjoy
All American, you will enjoy the Homecoming pilot, especially since it is technically episode S3E17. There are all kinds of romantic melodrama and athletic rivalries. A subplot involving NCAA violations in the Brightson baseball program also add a passably interesting element of topicality. However, writer Nkechi Okoro Carroll frequently includes PSA-like discourses on the importance of HBCU’s and black culture in general that are not smoothly integrated into the script. A character might as well preface them saying: “and now a word from our sponsor.”

Of course, viewers will be coming for the melodrama and there is plenty. However, franchise newcomers Netta Walker and Camile Hyde outshine series transfer Geffri Maya portraying potential rivals, at least in the “pilot.” Peyton Alex Smith is decent by teen genre standards as Sims, but by the far the most interesting character and engaging performance comes from Cory Hardrict, playing principled assistant baseball coach, Marcus Turner.

There is nothing really objectionable in
Homecoming, as long as you are not offended by cheesy “new adult” drama. It is not as oversexed as some of its competitors, which is another point in its favor. All American: Homecoming is not recommended for adults, but there are worse things your kids could watch when it premieres this Monday (7/5), airing amid this year’s season of All American on the CW.