Arriving on his first day at the prestigious Westbrook School for Girls in Disney + ‘s Big Shot, John Stamos’ embarrassed basketball coach Marvyn Korn is confronted with Yvette Nicole Brown’s no-nonsense Headmistress Sherilyn Thomas: “Trainers here aren’t just teachers,” she says. “They should be role models.” But can Korn set a good example?
The Full House and ER vet plays the infamous sports character at the center of the dramedy produced by David E. Kelley, which debuted Friday. The opening montage reveals the irrevocable act that fired him from the NCAA: in a moment of anger, Korn tossed a chair at a referee and ended his Division I career in one fell swoop. When his agent (played by guest star Adam Arkin) is unable to get him another job in Division II or [shudders] Korn, Division III basketball, accepts an appearance at the aforementioned All-Girls High School in what turns out to be his most challenging assignment yet.
Of course, Korn doesn’t make it easy for himself or anyone else. When Korn introduces himself to the Westbrook Sirens, he warns him that he’s not always a nice person. “If I call you stupid, I’ll give you permission to ignore it,” he says. “But when I tell you why you are stupid, I want you to pay close attention.” He shamed power-forward Destiny Winters (he eventually apologizes, but claims that losing five pounds will help her reach her full potential on the pitch); almost scolds the shooter Samantha “Giggles” Finkman, who suffers from pseudobulbaric affect for laughing during his introduction; and suspends star player Louise Gruzinsky for speaking back.
Korn and his assistant coach Holly Barrett (Glees Jessalyn Gilsig) get off on a slightly better foot. After the first training session, Barrett asks Korn for a beer to get to know. They discuss the fine line Korn has to walk now as he trains teenage girls and bond over their failed marriages together: Korn was too dedicated to the job to buy time for his family; Barrett cheated on her husband, who had checked out of their relationship long before their affair.
As expected, Louise opens a whole can of worms on the bench. Her father, wealthy businessman Larry Gruzinsky (Michael Trucco of Battlestar Galactica), paid for Westbrook’s basketball court. And his last sizeable donation came with a big question: he insisted that Westbrook hire Coach Korn in the hopes that he would reverse the Sirens’ fortunes and make Louise a desirable candidate for Division I. Larry confronts Korn about his decision to suspend his daughter before the big game against Laguna, but Korn is unwavering in his decision – at least initially. Barrett tells Korn that under Louise’s arrogant appearance, someone is quite fragile, but Korn doesn’t believe it until he sees it with his own eyes. He even has a backup plan: he wants Giggles and teammate Carolyn “Mouse” Smith to work together to fill Louise’s shoes. He encourages her to get to know each other and develop unwavering chemistry, but there is already history there: Mouse had a crush on Giggles and acted on it after misunderstanding the situation.
Before the match day, Louise Korn almost ran across the parking lot. She’s too emotional to drive. She stops and tells her coach that her father put significant pressure on her to get to Stanford or UCLA. When Boy Scouts join the game on Friday and see her sitting on a bench, they’ll wonder if the team’s rising star lacks basic leadership skills. Korn, who may or may not have problems of his own with his father (more on that in a moment), sees Louise for who she really is now and agrees to have her dressed for the game. She still can’t play, but she can make Boy Scouts believe she has pulled an Achilles tendon.
After a full week of two days, it’s time for Westbrook to show Laguna what they’re made of. But at the end of the first half, the sirens are back. The home team returns to the locker room, where Coach Korn opens up to the girls as part of a much-needed pep talk. He tells them that he wasn’t a great player himself and that his father found him embarrassing. (A ha! #DaddyIssues) “Those words made me more than any other words not to be,” he says. “But the irony of those words is that they made me lose myself, throwing tantrums and chairs … But at the end of the day, I could look in the mirror after every game and tell myself that I did everything what I could try to win – that I did my best. And that’s all I ask of you Do your best … you have no chance to fight if you don’t fight. “
The women give it their all, but they still lost six points and they have 40 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Barrett pulls Korn aside and tells him to bring Louise into play. He made his point clear and the girls stood the test of time. You need your closer. Louise walks in but misses the shot that won the game. The end result: 56-53. She looks at the stands and sees Larry. In her father’s eyes there is nothing but disappointment.
After the game, Korn tells his players that he expects to beat Laguna the next time – “but we’re just getting started”. As he sets off, Sherilyn pulls him aside and tells him, “This loss was better than any win we’ve ever had.” Obviously, his methods work.
At the end of the night, Korn returns to his hotel room and receives a call from his teenage daughter Emma. He fills it out on his first game and assures her that he has remained true to himself – without tearing his heads off. “Dad, I kind of feel like this thing can be good for you,” she says. Korn agrees.
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