Tulsa King ran for a total of nine episodes in its first season, and the fact that the show was given the green light for a second season speaks volumes about its quality and worth. Created by the co-creator of Yellowstone, Taylor Sheridan, the show broke all records as it aired on the Paramount Network during the course of the fall and early winter.
If you’re looking for a modern Sopranos-like show that hits some of the same notes and delivers that mobster/gangster-feel but with a cleaner overall image, this is it! Sometimes with The Sopranos, the viewer wasn’t always so inclined to root for Tony Soprano, may he rest in peace—a beloved character regardless.
Here, with Dwight “The General” Manfredi, the viewer not only sees a simpatico protagonist, but one that despite his livelihood, want to cheer him on as he gets what he wants and stops at nothing to attain it.
Sylvester Stallone, an OG if ever there was one, stars as Manfredi and with this role we are reminded that the action hero icon has acting chops the likes of which can be likened to Pacino, Brando and even DeNiro and Keitel.
In this role, we are reminded of the more dramatic aspects of Rocky and Rambo. But here he is vulnerable, way beyond flexing his ample biceps and running along a dock at full speed.
In Tulsa King, Stallone bares all, showing that he more than earned his Golden Globe for best supporting actor for Creed a few years back. It is here that we are reminded of such performances from his past as Get Carter, FIST, and even Copland.
General recap of the Tulsa King Season 1
To set the scene, the show opens with Manfredi being released from prison; after he served a 25-year stint for crimes committed. He is, of course, a ‘made man,’ which in gangster speak means he is a capo, a boss, and that others in his organization saw fit to promote him a such.
So, he returns home to New York, only to find that the scene in New York has changed and by scene, I mean the way the family operates. He went to prison in 1997 and the structure of the crime family changed big time.
Pete “The Rock” Invernizzi, played by A.C. Peterson, is his old friend and head of the family. But upon Manfredi’s return Pete is sick and old.
His son, “Chickie”, is starting to take a larger role in the organization. So much so, that the first order of business when Manfredi gets out, is to have a sit down and suggest that he, Manfredi, go to Tulsa, Oklahoma of all places and lay some roots in that territory for the organization as it’s a territory they hadn’t yet tapped.
Manfredi sees this as a horrible piece of news and even a demotion. A fight breaks out right there is the boardroom of the Invernizzi family home where Manfredi strikes Vince Antonacci, another made man and gets admonished for it big time.
Not a good start for Manfredi. There’s nothing to be done though, as Manfredi has nothing but to go to Tulsa.
He must find a way to not only set roots but later find out that for striking the aforementioned capo, needs to pay an additional amount of money by the week. Just how he’s to do it in Tulsa is what makes the next few episodes that much more intriguing to watch.
So, Manfredi gets to Tulsa and quickly starts to set up establishing his name in the city. But he’s finding it hard to not only acclimate himself to the new town, but to life on the outside after 25 years away.
Cell phones and other societal changes are a lot for him to take and Stallone is quite comical in that delivery. Once in Tulsa he befriends a cabbie, whom he hires to be his personal driver—Tyson Mitchell, played by Jay Will.
Manfredi seeks out a local smoke shop—a legal smoke shop—and decides to make it his hub of operation, comically taking it by will. This leads to exceptionally comedic scenes between he and shop owner, Lawrence “Bodhi” Geigerman, played expertly by Martin Starr.
After quite the awkward introduction, a bond is formed between Manfredi, Bohdi and those centered around that smoke shop. This leads to Manfredi also befriending an ex-rodeo star and bar owner, Mitch, played by the incomparable Garrett Hedlund.
But no matter how all of these men came together, a new crew for Manfredi is established. Despite being exiled and despite growing frustrations from his old crew in New York—especially with Chickie suddenly breathing down his neck, Manfredi establishes for himself quite the empire in Tulsa.
But is it big enough even to take on his old crew? There’s just one problem, though: Despite the simplicity at which Manfredi was able to set up shop, a biker gang that goes by the name of The Black Macadams, already owned the territory…
So, battling them for supremacy kind of becomes an issue. Added to the mix is a long-lost daughter that Manfredi is trying to convince to let him get back into her life.
What’s more is he just so happens to fall for a local federal officer played by Andrea Savage, and he runs into an old acquaintance from New York who just so happens to be hiding out right there in Tulsa! A small world after all, as they say; Manfredi learns this the hard way.
Complicated? You bet, but Dwight “The General” Manfredi is up to the challenge.
Review of Season 1
Stallone doesn’t at all disappoint in this role. Truthfully, he rarely does.
He’s all in for this one and the character seeps through him easily…no awkwardness. You even forget he has a 190-pound frame of tight muscle at the age of 76.
He’s vulnerable and hits his mark to a T. The show is well written, and if you couldn’t get into The Sopranos because of a cast of characters you just couldn’t support, here you’ll find a motley crew of intriguing characters that despite their profession, you can’t help but latch onto.
You want to willingly go for the ride with them, while not at all worried about where they’re taking you. Good, clean fun.
A must see. So go ahead and binge watch it now on Paramount Plus.
Join us next time as we take a specific look at some of the best moments from the show.