by James Lindorf
To celebrate their tenth anniversary Noah (William Jackson Harper) and Emma (Cristin Milioti) have just checked into a resort in Mexico’s famed Riviera Maya. They may be in paradise, but not everything is going well in their relationship. Their marriage is put to a final test when they find themselves embroiled in one of the Yucatan’s most bizarre missing persons cases from 15 years ago. The first season of the Comedic-Thriller “The Resort” consists of 8 thirty-minute episodes. The NBCUniversal streamer Peacock will release the first three episodes of “The Resort” on July 28th. The remaining episodes will be released over the following five weeks.
I first saw the trailer for “The Resort” before my screening of “Nope,” and to say it left me intrigued is an understatement. It was easily my favorite trailer this year, and I couldn’t wait to dive into the series. “The Good Place” is comfortably in my top five shows of all time, so anything with William Jackson Harper will instantly grab my attention. The addition of Cristin Milioti from “Made for Love” and “How I Met Your Mother” created a potentially dynamic duo. The excellent casting didn’t stop there, with Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation), Skyler Gisondo (The Righteous Gemstones), Luis Gerardo Méndez (Narcos: Mexico), and Nina Bloomgarden (Fatherhood) all playing significant roles. With such a talented cast working with the creators of “Palm Springs” and “Mr. Robot,” my excitement level was through the roof.
Excitement tends to lead to expectations, which can be a project’s lifeblood or death knell. If expectations are high, nothing will ever be good enough. If they are low, it means you probably left pleasantly surprised. The creative team is known for their complex storytelling, and I was expecting more of the same here. And they deliver an exciting story that evolves from the first episode to the last. The biggest problem with “The Resort” is that, like many vacation goers, it overindulges. There are too many characters with too many plot lines. With just 4-hours of runtime, there is no way for them to all be resolved satisfyingly while exploring the central mystery. For example, the strife between Noah and Emma fluctuates throughout the series. Depending on what episode you are on, grief, guilt, or the loss of independence could all be the root cause of their problems.
Where “The Resort” thrives is with the performances from the talented cast and its vibe. Almost every central cast member has experienced success in film or television. They brought all that experience and ability to “The Resort,” which makes for entertaining and occasionally powerful performances. Some rely a little too heavily on their persona created by past performances. It makes it impossible for them to disappear into their role, but they give their fans more of what they want. While Harper is my favorite actor in the series, the best performance in “The Resort” comes from Luis Gerardo Méndez as Baltasar Frías. Baltasar is a wannabe detective and the best friend of Alex, the resort’s eccentric owner. Luis makes you want to hate Baltasar for the endless stream of nonsensical questions but also makes you want to hug him for his loyalty and earnest nature.
The atmosphere of “The Resort” is created by blending a light and quirky comedy with a deeply emotional thriller built around love and loss. Whether they think they have lost a relationship, a family member, or mind, our characters know this is a life-changing moment. The fun part of the series is seeing what comes back to them and what is lost forever, and if the creators did their job, the answers should be shocking.
“The Resort” offers a solid 3.5 out of 5 stay. The place is beautiful, the staff is fantastic, the other guests are lovely, and there are a lot of activities. Maybe too many, preventing you from focusing on the things you enjoy. Better versions of this vacation exist, but with a new streamlined set of activities, we could be looking at a five-star resort you tell all your friends about.
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