With Further Ado #231: Don’t Refuse This Offer

I didn’t realize that Hogan’s Heroes, The Longest Yard (with Burt Reynolds) and The Godfather were all connected, but The Offer, a fantastic series on Paramount+, helped me understand the big picture behind it all.

I still like the original Star Trek series (TOS) quite a bit. So, when Paramount+ announced they were producing a series about the crew of the Enterprise before Kirk, Spock and the old gang, I was all in. I initially thought that’s the only show I’d use my Paramount+ subscription for.

Now, one of the podcasts I listen to is The Inglorious Treksperts. It’s a celebration of classic Star Trek, hosted by industry professionals who grew up loving Star Trek. These professionals talked about how much they enjoy this series, The Offer, but made point to say that many of the facts got stretched in the making of this show. That’s ok by me, and good to keep in mind. (And after watching Babylon on the big screen last month, this seems like a tame documentary!).

Glenn Whipp of the LA Times described the series like this:

And now here to feed that hunger is “The Offer,” a 10-part limited series premiering Thursday on (where else?) Paramount+ that leans into the movie’s mythology in ways that are sometimes entertaining, too often ridiculous and, on occasion, quite possibly libelous, though I’d have to consult the family consigliere on that count because it’s outside my area of expertise.

The series is based on producer Albert S. Ruddy’s experience of making “The Godfather,” a point worth mentioning as, from the start, there have been wildly conflicting accounts about who deserves the credit for the film’s phenomenal success. “The Offer” makes a case for a combination of Ruddy (Miles Teller), Coppola (Dan Fogler) and Paramount’s head of production Robert Evans (Matthew Goode), with a strong assist from Ruddy’s secretary Bettye McCartt (Juno Temple) and, with a tiny mention in the finale, Paramount executive Peter Bart (Josh Zuckerman), who did, after all, option Mario Puzo’s unfinished novel and suggested Coppola direct.

I can’t believe I didn’t know who Albert Ruddy was, given that I’ve watched and enjoyed so much of his stuff over the years. He was a computer programmer who made the jump into TV, and enjoyed phenomenal success with Hogan’s Heroes. And then, incredibly, he made a pivot into movies. This series is essentially his early career at Paramount, and all the creative and unconventional efforts he undertook to bring The Godfather to the screen.

Matthew Goode steals the show as Paramount’s Bob Evans. Evans was a larger-than-life Hollywood character who may be best known for his work on big movies like Love Story, Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Godfather. He was a charismatic guy whose life had so many high highs and low lows. Goode plays it big here, and it’s impossible to keep your eyes off his interpretation of Evans. If I was the King of World, I would immediately mandate that Paramount produce at least three seasons of a spin-off called The Bob Evans Show. He’s that good.

Likewise. Juno Temple, who plays Bettye McCartt is fantastic. This British Actress, who you would never guess is British because she nails the accent so well, plays the woman who was Ruddy’s right-hand “man”. She’s competent, and savvy and you can’t help but root for her.

There’s a whole lineage of interconnected movies that spin out of the lives of the folks depicted in the movie. Beyond Hogan’s Heroes and The Godfather, there’s movies like Love Story, The Getaway, starring Bob Evan’s wife, Ali McGraw, and Chinatown, which was Evans’ next big hit.

I’d love to teach a film class and use this series as a springboard, from which we’d view all those wonderful 70s movies.

If you’re into Hollywood history (but comfortable with a little truth stretching), if you’re into the mafia movies, or if you’re someone who roots for the underdog, this series is for you. I can’t recommend it enough. In fact, I think I like this series better than The Godfather, as paradoxical as that sounds.