The production value on Hard Knocks is amazing. Of course, the show has a lot going for it right off the bat. It’s an inside look into the most profitable league on the planet, meaning a lot of people are very interested and care a lot about what they’re showing. People would watch just for the content matter but the production also happens to be as good as it gets.
The 2013 installment of the HBO documentary series kicked off last night and it was even better than I remember it. We get an inside look into the training camp of the Cincinnati Bengals this year and even though they were on the show 4 years ago, everything feels fresh. The coaches are mostly the same with the exception of running backs coach Hue Jackson but the players are essentially all different from the first go-around, including QB Andy Dalton, WR A.J. Green, LB James Harrison and DB Pacman Jones.
Rookie RB Giovanni Bernard was the star of last night’s show and without a doubt he upped his stock in just about every fantasy draft in the country. That guy can move – he is super fast. HBO, as always, did a fantastic job of introducing intriguing storylines, both injury and roster related. You forget that a players’ livelihood is on the line and the only way to be reminded of that is to see the tears on Larry Black’s face when he finds out that he is out for the season with a dislocated ankle.
From the fringe players fighting for a roster spot to the veterans, Hard Knocks covers it all superbly. It perfectly juxtaposes all of the nonsense, hazing and joking with the serious football related activities (both on and off the field) that go on during a training camp. How could you not be pumped after the final Oklahoma drill? Those slow motion montages edited perfectly to the music are also outstanding and Liam Neeson remains the best narrator in any medium (sorry Morgan Freeman).
Overall, it was a fantastic first episode and I can’t wait for the final four as we gear up for the 2013 season. It amazing to think about the quality of storytelling that Hard Knocks showcases given it has such a quick turnaround. Next week’s show is being shot right now and somehow, after compiling hours of footage, they will put together another compelling hour of television on the tightest of deadlines. Keep up the great work HBO because next week’s show can’t come soon enough. Football is back!