The crowd went wild when Sylvester Stallone appeared at the Canadian premiere of his new show Tulsa King on Paramount+ (premiering Nov. 13), the first foray into television work for the legendary movie star.
“Quite often you make these clunkers, … but when you have the real deal you just don’t run out of gas,” Stallone said before the screening in Toronto this week.
Tulsa King boasts an impressive team behind the show, created by Taylor Sheridan who also brought us the immensely popular Yellowstone, working alongside Terence Winter (The Sopranos), but it’s really a story crafted around allowing Stallone to take centre stage.
Stallone plays Dwight Manfredi, recently released from prison after 25 years. While he expects to be welcomed back by his New York mob family, it’s actually the exact opposite. Chickie Invernizzi (Domenick Lombardozzi) lays out that there isn’t room for him in the organization anymore, too much time has passed and they can't rewind the clock. That's when Dwight is offered a new post in Oklahoma. He’s initially resistant, but ends up taking the new assignment.
When he arrives in Tulsa, Dwight quickly makes a local taxi driver Tyson (Jay Will), his personal driver, and walks right into a legal weed dispensary forcing the owner Bodhi (Martin Starr) to cut him into his operations.
There’s a strong element of a fish-out-of-water comedy in Tulsa King, the older man who hasn’t experienced the world beyond prison in over two decades and no longer understands how it works. Dwight doesn’t grasp the concept of marijuana legalization, Uber, and other aspects of this more “modern" world.
While there are some more violent moment, like Dwight injuring the security guard at a marijuana dispensary, threatening the racist owner of a car dealership who wouldn't let Tyson buy a car, and punching a man assaulting a woman at a bar, the first episode is less physical than some may expect.
For Stallone fans, if you’re in that category, Tulsa King is really a vehicle for you to watch the beloved actor shine. The first episode may seem slightly disjointed at times, as we try to understand what Dwight's path is going to be in Oklahoma, but this experience seems set up to take a shot at Dwight's ego.
With Stallone classifying this series as the "real deal" and not a "clunker," we'll be watching to see how the story is pulled together in the coming episodes.