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MCN Review: 'Red Oaks'

Amazon looks to take its viewers back to the 1980s in its new comedy series Red Oaks.

Created by Gregory Jacobs (Magic Mike XXL, The Knick) and Joe Gangemi (Eliza Graves), the series stars Craig Roberts (Submarine) as David, a 20-year-old New York University student who is trying to figure out what he wants out of life.

Watch the Red Oaks trailer.

In an effort to keep from working for his accountant dad, Sam (Richard Kind) — who, in the first episode, hilariously reveals to David some uncomfortable truths about his relationship with David’s mom Judy (Jennifer Grey) during a mild heart attack — David takes a job as an assistant tennis instructor at the well-heeled Red Oaks club.

Urged on by his very attractive, commitment-pushing aerobics instructor girlfriend Karen (Gage Golightly) and flanked by the country club’s potsmoking car attendant Wheeler (Oliver Cooper), David makes a go at the new position.

He very quickly runs afoul of the club’s president, Mr. Getty (Paul Reiser), after he beats Getty handily on the tennis court. Getty isn’t sure whether to label David a punk or a kid with lots of potential, but he’s willing to invest the time over the course of the series to find out.

Complicating matters is David’s interest in Getty’s daughter Skye (Alexandra Socha).

The Stephen Soderbergh executive-produced comedy is set in the 1980s and pays homage to the period, with the characters often donning colorful clothes, big hair and leg warmers. But the show’s appeal lies in the gradual but definitive development of its off -beat and charming characters.

Whether it’s David’s overbearing mother or his skirt-chasing tennis pro mentor, Nash (Ennis Esmer), the characters’ smooth interaction with each other and within the familiar but still interesting coming-of-age storyline makes 10-episode Red Oaks a comedy worthy of binge-viewing.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.