June 24, 2024

The Big Cigar Review 2024 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online

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The Big Cigar Review 2024 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online

While much attention is paid to the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Panther Party hasn’t been as closely examined in popular culture. Apple TV+‘s “The Big Cigar” is adapted from Joshuah Bearman’s 2012 article of the same name. (Bearman also penned the 2007 article that Ben Affleck’s 2012 film, “Argo” was based on.) The series revolves around Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton’s (a precisely calibrated André Holland) 1974 escape to Cuba. The miniseries highlights his political work within the organization and the systems and choices that led to him fleeing the country. Since the show focuses on Newton’s four-week-long departure from Los Angeles to Havana under the guise of a movie production, the truly fascinating aspects of his legacy are scarcely addressed. Despite the stellar acting, detailed set design and an electric musical score, “The Big Cigar” never finds solid ground because the center of Newton’s story isn’t placed in focus.

Directed by Don Cheadle, Episode 1, “Panther/Producer,” opens with a quick overview of the foundation of the Black Panther Party. Acting as narrator, Newton explains the varied contradictions of his life, why he and Bobby Seale founded the Panthers in 1966 and the manufactured murder charge that led to his decision to leave the United States just eight years later.

Following his release from prison in 1970, Newton is introduced to movie producer Bert Schneider (Alessandro Nivola) and his best friend and business partner, Steve Blauner (P. J. Byrne). Fascinated with the “Free Huey” campaign, which had only grown since Newton’s 1967 arrest for allegedly killing a police officer, Schneider decides a biopic of Newton starring comedian Richard Pryor (Inny Clemons) should be his next project. Though the revolutionary activist is initially apprehensive, he’s ultimately charmed by the producer’s tenacity and the thousands of donation dollars he puts towards the Panther’s survival programs. Though the movie is never made, the men eventually form a bond, which is how Newton and his girlfriend, Gwen Fontaine (Tiffany Boone), end up on Schneider’s doorstep four years later, evading the LAPD.

Throughout six episodes, the series details how Blauner and Schneider worked to create an escape plan for Newton under the guise of a faux film titled “The Big Cigar.” Unfortunately, this month-long mishap-riddled escapade is one of the least intriguing aspects of the activist’s life. Though the majority of the story showcases Newton fleeing by foot, plane, car and boat – flashbacks from his boyhood, the founding of the Black Panthers and his feuds with both Bobby Seale (Jordane Christie) and Eldridge Cleaver (Brenton Allen) are addressed only in short flashbacks.

Additionally, Newton’s drug use and paranoia are represented in some scenes throughout the show, but they are only fringe topics. Newton’s mounting mental health and addiction issues, exacerbated by his forced isolation in prison and being constantly surveilled by the FBI and Agent Sydney Clark (Marc Menchaca), could have been unpacked here. Also, it’s always lovely to see Boone — who was so good in Prime Video’s “Hunters”— in any role, but she’s hardly given anything to do. Throughout “The Big Cigar,” she is simply an emotional blanket for Holland’s Newton. Likewise, while female Black Panther leaders like Moses Ingram’s Teressa Dixon kept the group from falling apart when the men were either killed, imprisoned or forced into exile, their contributions are barely examined in this tale.

The series moves at a rapid-fire pace. Yet, Episode 5, “Lost Paradise,” is the strongest of “The Big Cigar” because it slows down a bit. Additional information about the incident and arrest that made it necessary for Newton to run come to light. Moreover, his relationship with his father, Walter (Glynn Turman), which was a catalyst for his desire to change the status quo for Black Americans, is also put front and center.

Though Newton’s absconding to Cuba was undoubtedly major news when it happened, “The Big Cigar” fails to capture the heightened stakes of the event. Furthermore, the show never clarifies the depth of Newton and Schneider’s friendship. Bored by his own circumstances as a wealthy Hollywood bigwig, Schneider’s decision to help Newton feels rather self-congratulatory, sliding into the realm of a Great White Savoir.

Huey P. Newton was a very complicated person. However, his contributions to the Black Panther Party, whose Free Breakfast for Children is still used in schools across America today, and the Black Power Movement cannot be overstated. Because “The Big Cigar” is so focused on a singular event (that happens to place Hollywood in a co-starring role), a great deal of Newton and the Panthers’ legacy is neglected, leaving the viewer to question who this series is for.

The Big Cigar Review 2024 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online