Tulsa King TV Review

Last Updated on November 14, 2022

Plot: Follows New York mafia capo Dwight “The General” Manfredi, after he is released from prison after 25 years and is unceremoniously exiled by his boss to set up shop in Tulsa, Okla. Realizing that his mob family may not have his best interests in mind, Dwight slowly builds a crew from a group of unlikely characters to help him establish a new criminal empire in a place that to him might as well be another planet.

Review: Paramount loves Taylor Sheridan. With Yellowstone consistently ranking as one of the most watched shows on television, Sheridan’s creative output has expanded with sequels, prequels, and spin-offs of the Montana-set drama along with separate projects like Mayor of Kingstown starring Jeremy Renner. Sheridan’s latest project is Tulsa King, a unique twist on gangster stories led by Sylvester Stallone in his first small-screen leading role. With a heavy dose of inspiration from the classics of the mafia genre like Goodfellas and The Godfather, Tulsa King is a violent and entertaining story that is far funnier than I was expecting it to be. With a stellar performance from Stallone, Tulsa King is Sheridan’s best project to date and a welcome change of tone from what he has created before it.

Tulsa King centers on Dwight “The General” Manfredi (Sylvester Stallone), a Mafia capo who served twenty-five years in prison on behalf of his family’s don, Pete “The Rock” Invernizzi (A.C. Peterson). When he gets out, the world has changed and Dwight is relegated to Tulsa, Oklahoma where he can live in exile or make the best of his situation. Immediately, Dwight enlists Tyson (Jay Will) as his driver and enforces protection costs on local dispensary owner Bodhi (Martin Starr). He also befriends local bar owner Mitch (Garrett Hedlund) and strikes up a relationship with Stacy (Andrea Savage). As Dwight longs to reconnect with his daughter Tina (Tatiana Zappardino), he must also contend with figures from his past who know what the capo is capable of while simultaneously growing an organized crime racket where there really isn’t all that much crime.

Over the first two episodes of the series, the City of Tulsa is presented as a mid-sized city with suburban and rural elements. There are many of the accommodations of modern life but not nearly at the pace of Manhattan or other areas of New York. Sylvester Stallone plays Dwight as an upstanding and honorable man but one who is not afraid to break some bones to get his message across. Much of Stallone’s screen time is spent contending with how much the world has changed since he was locked up in 1997. From Uber to legal marijuana and beyond, much of Dwight’s day-to-day is spent figuring out how a seventy-five-year-old crime boss can exist in the 21st century as much as it is in the middle of the Bible Belt. Stallone plays his role with conviction and seriousness which keeps the humor of this story sincere and never like a sitcom. It also helps that the Oklahoma setting is one that has not been used very often on the small screen, especially in a story such as this.

Conceived during the COVID-19 pandemic by Taylor Sheridan, Tulsa King is a showcase for Sylvester Stallone as an actor. While Stallone has played gangsters before, he has never done so quite the way he does here. Stallone’s comedic work has often been critically derided over his career, but Sheridan and Terence Winter, two absolute masters of the modern crime genre, give the actor a deep and multi-faceted character. Dwight Manfredi is not racist or hateful but rather a traditional and old-school New Yorker who is proud of his Italian heritage but also very respectful of everyone around him regardless of gender or race. What he does not tolerate is disrespect and there are several times through these early episodes where he shows those who are not as tolerant just how he feels. This makes him a very sympathetic character but also a very scary person to cross. The plot elements focused on the criminal enterprises run by Dwight as well as competing factions adds a bonus layer to an already great story.

Aside from Starr, Hedlund, Savage, and Will, Tulsa King is populated with a solid cast of supporting players including Max Casella, Domenick Lombardozzi, Vincent Piazza, Dana Delaney, and Annabella Sciorra, all of whom populate this intriguing tale with a deep bench of experienced performers from series like Boardwalk Empire, The Wire and more. The directing duties on these early episodes fall on Allen Coulter and Ben Semanoff who have experience with similarly themed shows including The Sopranos and Ozark. The creative team here all know what they are doing and, led by Taylor Sheridan, surprisingly do not try to replicate anything from Yellowstone. Tulsa King feels completely different than Sheridan’s other shows in a way that I had hoped Mayor of Kingstown would have distanced itself rather than simply shifting the story to a different city but keeping the tone.

Tulsa King is off to a solid start with two episodes that establish Dwight Manfredi as one of the more interesting characters on television as well as one of Sylvester Stallone’s best performances in years. This series is equal parts funny and entertaining and never treats the New York or Tulsa characters as cliches or stereotypes. Taylor Sheridan and Terence Winter deliver a series that is as layered as The Sopranos, as richly dramatic as Yellowstone, and somehow the funniest crime series in recent memory. This show is a winner on all levels and worth every bit of the hype surrounding it. The only way Tulsa King could get better would be if we somehow were able to get Dwight to somehow pay a visit to the Dutton Ranch in Montana.

Tulsa King premieres on November 13th on Paramount+.

Tulsa King

AMAZING

9

Source: JoBlo.com

About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been JoBlo.com's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.