Sylvester Stallone’s Tulsa King Is a Rickety Star Vehicle: TV Review

The latest Taylor Sheridan and Terence Winter drama for Paramount+, “Tulsa King,” is far too formulaic and unremarkable to be a noteworthy show. But for a few reasons, it is remarkable and curiously fascinating.

One reason is that “Tulsa King” continues Sheridan’s meteoric climb as a writer-director and one of the most successful television creators of the last ten years.

Sheridan, who was perhaps best known for playing a minor supporting character in “Sons of Anarchy,” has transformed a few successful neo-Western movies into a blossoming small-screen empire. Sheridan has created a storytelling brand that is unique from well-known names like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy in addition to his breakout success “Yellowstone” and its four spinoffs.

Actors who are best known for yesterday’s big office hits recreating themselves in the television industry is nothing new. But Stallone is a particular kind of performer; his post-“Rocky” filmography is divided between action franchises with lots of set pieces and failed attempts to move beyond playing soldiers of fortune like “Rambo.”

Up until he won a Golden Globe for his supporting performance in “Creed,” there was intense debate about Stallone’s fundamental performer-competence. Nobody likes him as an actor.

Stallone plays a role in “Tulsa King” that was obviously created with him in mind, and it makes a huge difference. “Tulsa King” is an awkward failure, but when it succeeds, it does so because to Stallone’s endearing—if typically mannered—performance.

Domenick Lombardozzi, playing the role of Chickie, informs Dwight that there is no longer room for him in the New York group. His only choice is to agree to a new task that involves getting established in Oklahoma’s second-largest city despite never having been there. He will have to adjust to a world that is different from the one he left behind while also learning how to navigate a new business climate in Tulsa.

The premise implies that it will be difficult for an old con to adapt his methods to modern graft. Dwight’s inclination for crime hasn’t even marginally lessened after a quarter-century away from the hustle.

In fact, Dwight has already scheduled a personal driver (Jay Will) despite having only been a few hours in the Sooner State and still carrying his luggage.

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