Just three months after granting a pilot order to the Tim Robbins and Jack Black comedy The Brink, HBO has already decided to pick-up the series for a full first season.
Directed by Jay Roach (the Austin Powers franchise, Meet the Parents, HBO's own Game Change), The Brink is described as a pitch black comedy with an epic scope. The plot focuses on a major geopolitical crisis, and the effects that crisis has on the lives of three very different men.
Oscar-winner Tim Robbins co-stars as Walter Hollander, the current U.S. Secretary of State, and a man with a decidedly low tolerance for the political gamesmanship that he constantly encounters in Washington, D.C. Jack Black co-stars as Alex Coppins, a low-level Foreign Service Officer that finds himself reluctantly caught up in crisis-related events unfolding around him.
Rounding out the main trio is Pablo Schreiber (Orange is the New Black), who will portray ace Navy fighter pilot Zeke Callahan. All three of these men are currently attempting to navigate both personal and professional issues when the aforementioned crisis starts happening, but must rise above these problems and come together if World War III is to be averted.
Supporting cast members include Aasif Mandvi (The Daily Show), Maribeth Monroe (Workaholics), Geoff Pierson (Dexter), Eric Ladin (Boardwalk Empire), and longtime TV veteran Esai Morales (Caprica). Jerry Weintraub (Ocean's Eleven) is producing the project.
Impressively, HBO made the decision to give The Brink a series order only one short day after viewing the final cut of the pilot. For HBO, a network with an especially impressive track record for original programming, to be that confident in The Brink's chances really says something. One person who doesn't seem surprised by HBO's positive reception is producer Weintraub:
We surrounded them (Robbins and Black) with great actors, and it all came together. We knew at the table read that we had the right thing.
The 76-year-old Weintraub also (jokingly) offered an alternate explanation as to why HBO wasted no time in jumping on The Brink's bandwagon:
They don’t know how long I’m going to live, that’s why they picked it up so quickly.
Roach and Weintraub have produced several telefilms for the premium cable giant, but this marks their first attempt at a weekly series. If their past track record is any indication, HBO is likely right to bank on The Brink's success, especially with two scene-stealing actors like Robbins and Black anchoring the proceedings. The stars truly seem to have aligned on this collaboration, as HBO is well known for its love of both politically flavored drama and dark comedy.
On the other hand, both Roach and Robbins have a tendency to go a bit overboard with their political messaging, so there is certainly room for The Brink to become too heavy-handed in its delivery over time. Of course, that's always a danger in centering a show around geopolitics - especially in such a sharply divided country.
Much like Aaron Sorkin's drama The Newsroom (which is praised just about as often as its maligned), The Brink could very well end up falling squarely in the "love it or hate it" camp. Here's hoping Roach learns from Sorkin's mistakes.
The Brink is just past the pilot stage, which means it'll be awhile before the show gets a premiere date.