TV Show Review – Madoff

TV Show Review – Madoff


Rating:  3 (out of 5).  ABC’s Madoff, a miniseries on the rise and fall of Ponzi-schemer Bernard Madoff, stars Richard Dreyfuss as Madoff and Blythe Danner as his wife Ruth. The series also stars Peter Scolarie as Madoff’s brother. The critics were extremely impressed with Dreyfuss. They called his performance sensational and worth watching. The downside is that they were not very impressed with the writing and many of them wished the series had a bigger focus on the human cost and less on the actual con.

Variety thinks “despite a showy performance by Richard Dreyfuss in the title role, the production is mostly inert, exhibiting a somewhat antiseptic quality, and downplaying perhaps it’s most fascinating element.” They say “given the inherent dramatic possibilities in the story, the return for viewers seems at best marginal.”

The Washington Post calls it “dutiful but not terribly daring.” They say the miniseries “treats this financial and family disaster with equal portions of respectful distance and the kind of tabloid luridness needed to hold a viewer’s attention. Dreyfuss gives a performance that is merely serviceable rather than memorable, while Danner copes with a version of Ruth Madoff that seems regrettably underwritten and underexplored.”

The Hollywood Reporter thinks “Madoff feels padded, but also warped with artificial cliffhangers, corny ad-break musical stings, cheap attempts to add thriller elements and an ending that lurches across nearly half of the second night.” They add “Still, working from ABC News correspondent Brian Ross’ research and book The Madoff Chronicles, the movie has enough juicy details to remain very watchable, and Dreyfuss is having a great time playing this awful man.”

The Philadelphia Daily News states “Richard Dreyfuss makes no excuses for the con artist whose decades-long fraud cost his marks billions. It does humanize his family, which knew sadness even before Madoff’s big reveal, and features a strong performance by Peter Scolari as Bernie’s brother Peter.”

The Wall Street Journal states “In attempting to crawl inside the head of Mr. Madoff–given just a touch of ghoulishness by Mr. Dreyfuss–it provides solidly sordid entertainment. But it also elevates its subject into an object of sympathy.”

The Lincoln Journal Star says “This one’s worth watching for Richard Dreyfus’ performance as the scheming con man, Bernie Madoff.”

The Denver Post thinks “Dreyfuss is sensational as Madoff, a twinkle in his eye as he explains his “magic.” He’s a likable scoundrel at first, playing with his grandkids, reassuring his wife. The depths of his lying, hischutzpah, is almost beyond belief.”

The Boston Globe writes “Dreyfuss impressively keeps Madoff’s villainy human-scaled and, at times, petty, and therefore more potent. The miniseries that is constructed around him, though, is flat and simplistic, with none of the intelligence and intrigue that has elevated other stories set in high finance, Billions  and  The Big Short.”

The Los Angeles Times finds this hard to resist. They say “Madoff” is a “fine example of the new “so bad it’s good” high-finance drama. It may be named for a man, but it’s the story of a con; the presence of Richard Dreyfuss, clearly having a terrific time doing terrible things, makes it both enjoyable and morally ambiguous.”

Newsday says “Dreyfuss’ portrayal is written in acid. His Madoff sneers, lies and cheats. He not only takes money from the rich to give to the richer (himself), but from the poor, too. He’d be rotten to the core except there’s no core to rot: It’s a pristine, hollow space, uncluttered by guilt or remorse.” They say the miniseries is “smart” and “well written.”

The New York Times thinks “Richard Dreyfuss gives a polished, surprisingly jovial performance in an underwritten role.” They say “What the production lacks in moral dimension or psychological acuity it occasionally makes up for in entertainment value. The first night, especially, offers some snappy comedy as it delineates how Mr. Madoff and a few trusted employees carried out their titanic fraud under the noses of the rest of his firm’s employees, including his two sons.”


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