Originally Published: August 13, 2018 6:33 p.m.
My wife said to me, “Chris — you need to come watch a little of this.” The “this” was a mini-TV series put out by Amazon Studios that plays on Amazon Prime called “Red Oaks.”
The setting was a country club in the New Jersey area during the mid-1980s. It centered on the head tennis pro, Nash Nasser, who hires a young assistant pro, David Myers, who needs a summer job between his early years in college.
The job fulfills the need he has to make some money with a setting he thinks he’ll enjoy and the inner turmoil of what he wants to make of his life.
Now, you sprinkle in a slew of characters who work and belong as members at “Red Oaks,” his parents who want to help create a direction that Myers has doubt about, the nostalgic 80s and most episodes capture a time and mood that anyone who lived it can reflect and enjoy.
Tennis, golf, the pool, aerobics and fitness center — the restaurant, bar, card playing, locker rooms, parties, worker and club member relationships — how it all jells together or doesn’t.
It’s “Dirty Dancing,” meets “Caddyshack” meets the “Breakfast Club.”
The directors for most all episodes were David Gordon Green, Steven Soderbergh, Joe Gangemi and Gregory Jacobs, all of whom have a wide array of film credit skills and have used them to get very good reviews.
Metacritic, the New York Times, Newsday and Entertainment Weekly all had a thumbs up for the three seasons and 26 episodes of Red Oaks.
Actor Craig Roberts plays the main character assistant pro David Myers, Jennifer Gray his mother Judy, Richard Kind his father Sam and 12 other main actors that have been in most of the series creating an engaging hit.
Former tennis professional Brad Gilbert is in a few episodes as the club champion for the past eight years or so, and he ends up running for president of the club — and he does a really good job of acting.
Having worked in the resort, country club and multi-purpose club atmosphere as a young assistant pro, front desk, stringer, head pro, tennis director, club owner and more from the age of 17 to date, I really felt the comedy and drama from each interaction and became immediately addicted, binge watching all three seasons.
You start in the spring with the excitement of the club opening, school getting out and a chain of special programs and events that everyone looks forward until Labor Day shuts things down again.
Friendships get started, romances bud, everyone is doing their best to get the extra tip, network with the shakers and movers, and then back to school trying to figure out what your hustle in life will become.
Myers is confused with where he will end up and how to get there, but is ready to seize the many different opportunities given him. His girlfriend relationships are enticing and interesting as well as his guy friends, Nash, Wheeler, Barry and club member Herb. Each role it seems is someone I used to know, or know of.
When summer comes to an end with a seasonal country club and the future starts another chapter the question is always: What will it be? What’s next?
Unfortunately Amazon canceled this trip down memory lane after season three, and they have been besieged with requests to bring it back.
I agree — sheesh, I want more!
Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or firstname.lastname@example.org.