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KINGPIN
Reviewed November 25th, 2003 by David Nusair

 

With virtually every new TV show receiving a release on DVD, it was inevitable that even failed TV shows would eventually make their way to the format. Kingpin premiered on NBC in the summer of 2002, and failed to make much of an impact in the ratings. The creators of the show must have had an inkling of how well it would do, because the storyline is effectively wrapped up by the end of the sixth (and final) episode.

Kingpin revolves around the Mexican mafia, with a specific focus on the Cadena family. Miguel (Yancey Arias) is a high-ranking businessman within a drug cartel, and itís immediately apparent that his reluctance to resort to violence has kept him from moving up in the ranks. That his wife, Marlene (Sheryl Lee), isnít of Spanish descent is a cause for much concern among others in the cartel Ė not that either of them seem to care. Miguelís brother, Chato (Bobby Cannavale), is a hothead prone to violence Ė but heís also tremendously loyal to Miguel, making the two an effective team. Also thrown into the mix is a plastic surgeon named Heywood Klein (Brian Benben), whose involvement with the cartel is limited to selling small quantities of drugs to rich clients. But he wants out, and enlists the help of a local thug named Junie (Shay Roundtree). Finally, a dedicated DEA agent named Delia Flores (Angela Alvarado) finds herself with a personal grudge against the cartel, and refuses to stop going after them even after sheís reassigned to another State.

Itís a complicated storyline with a lot of characters, but through the six episodes, the creative team behind Kingpin does a fantastic job of developing all these characters. Itís become a bit of a clichť at this point, but Miguel is essentially a criminal with a heart of gold. We feel sympathetic to his plight primarily because we can see that itís not a lifestyle he particularly wants. And as embodied by Yancey Arias, Miguel is someone that itís easy enough to root for.

Kingpin doesnít shy away from violence, which may make some viewers uncomfortable. But when you really get down to it, the show is about family and staying true to yourself. Itís incredibly entertaining, and itís certainly a shame that it was cancelled so early on.

Audio: Kingpin is presented with a 2.0 channel soundtrack, and itís quite effective.

Video: But itís the letterboxed transfer that really makes this set worth picking up. The image is crystal clear, with nary an artifact to be found.

Extras: The only extras can be found on the third disc, which are a series of interviews with all the major players. The actors receive a few minutes each, while the series creator receives around 10 minutes. Some promotional materials for the show round out the discís supplemental contents.

Conclusion: If youíre suffering from Sopranos withdrawal, give Kingpin a look. You wonít be disappointed.

 

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