If you believe the reviews, The Offer (Paramount+) is a TV show you really can, and should, refuse. But if you believe the punters – who’ve given it an 8.7 out of 10 on IMDB and 97 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes – you’d be mad not to take it up.
Ordinarily I’m happy to fly in the face of popular opinion – hello, Top Gun: Maverick; thank you very much, Elvis – but in this instance I’m with the mob. The Offer may be corny and hackneyed, and leading man Miles Teller may have all the screen presence of a plank of wood, but this 10-part drama about the making of The Godfather is an absolutely rollicking ride.
You’ve got Frank Sinatra (Frank John Hughes) trying to shut the movie down because he thinks the Mob-connected singer in Mario Puzo’s book is modelled on him. You’ve got the Mafia trying to shut it down because they insist there’s no such thing as the Mafia. You’ve got the studio trying to shut it down because it’s running over budget, over time, and nobody wants to see a gangster movie in 1972 anyway. You’ve got rampant egos, real-world violence mirroring the fictional bloodshed, beautiful people behaving appallingly, and appalling people very occasionally doing decent things.
The naysayers seem to think we know all this already. It’s a “Wikipedia article come to life”, claimed The Guardian; a “dramatisation of a Wikipedia page” that should end with “references and external links”, opined Empire; “an illustrated Wikipedia entry”, according to The Hollywood Reporter (anyone spot a theme here?).
The thing is, while the cine-nerds may have spent their every waking moment poring over Godfather lore, and maybe even posting snarky edits on those Wikipedia pages, regular folk might be encountering these stories and these characters for the first time, or at least the first time in a long while.
The show has been criticised for its parade of impressions, but I’m not too proud to say I really enjoyed Dan Fogler’s take on Coppola (smart, selfish, stubborn, demanding), Patrick Gallo’s easily distracted Puzo, Anthony Ippolito’s Al Pacino (needy, insecure) and Justin Chambers’ mercurial Marlon Brando.
Above all, I loved Matthew Goode as Bob Evans, the Paramount Studios boss who swans around in impeccably cut three-piece suits, ruling the roost at his favourite restaurant, calling everyone “Bubbi” and elevating schmooze to the finest of arts. He runs hot and cold, laying on both the charm and the bullying with a trowel, but when he collapses in a heap of self-loathing after his wife Ali McGraw (Meredith Garretson) dumps him you can’t help but will him back to his supremely cocky best.