Netflix has released its trailer for Ashton Kutcher’s upcoming show “The Ranch,” giving us our best look yet at the star’s rootin’-tootin’, gun shootin’, punchline-dropping sitcom. Co-starring Sam Elliott, Debra Winger and Kutcher’s “That ’70s Show” co-star Danny Masterson, the series is set on a Colorado ranch.
Following Colt (Kutcher) as he returns home with head hung down following a failed attempt as a pro football player, the multi-camera sitcom tells the story of him trying to join the family ranching business. Winger plays the mother of Colt and Rooster (Masterson) who runs the local watering hole, and Elliot is their father Beau — who hasn’t seen Colt in 15 years.
Looking at the trailer, one thing is apparent: This could either be the best or worst original program Netflix has ever produced. With that in mind, let’s dissect the clues.
Good: Sam Elliott talking like a cowboy
If you’ve been longing for a “Big Lebowski” reunion, or even if you just miss those drool-worthy voiceovers he used to do for beef commercials, listening to Elliott’s drawl is like scratching an itch. It’s comfort-food, Hollywood style. Re-read that last sentence in Elliott’s voice, and you’ll see what we mean.
Bad: Quinoa jokes
Want to get yourself a job as a lazy joke writer in Hollywood? Take a manly character (cowboy, construction worker, generic Al Bundy-like dad) and make a joke about hipster food (quinoa, kale, acai, goji berries). Punctuate it with canned laughter, and you’ve got a scary first impression of the type of humor to be expected from “The Ranch.”
Good: A sitcom with a gun-rack
No matter how you feel about fly-over states, the 2nd Amendment and other such issues, we can all agree that there is a huge segment of the American population largely under-represented in pop culture. “The Ranch” looks like an interesting experiment: A sitcom set in a world where shotguns, cowboy hats and Friday night lights are a way of life. Look at that trailer: In one minute and 56 seconds, there are at least three gun references!
Bad: Tom Petty music
Not that Tom Petty is bad in general, mind you. But out of all the music to select that would set a mood, why go with 1989’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream?” Maybe it’s because Kutcher’s Colt is a failed semi-pro football player? And his dream is slipping away or something? Still, a nearly thirty-year-old song isn’t the best way to make people think this is a buzz-worthy, must-watch experience.
Good: The return of Danny Masterson
For eight beloved seasons, “That ’70s Show” hit a sitcom sweet-spot while launching the careers of Mila Kunis, Laura Prepon, Topher Grace … and of course, Kutcher and Masterson, the latter of whom has been mostly absent from the pop culture landscape since the show’s 2006 send-off. As this trailer reminds you, the dude can deliver a punch line with the best of them. Seeing him reunited with Kutcher again makes you wonder: Could this be the beginning of another successful 8-season partnership?
Good: Ashton is dumb again
Much like Keanu Reeves before him, every time Kutcher plays a clueless character (“Dude, Where’s My Car?” “That ’70s Show”) it is so much better than when he tries to play a smart character (“Jobs,” “The Guardian”). Look, it isn’t type-casting if you figure out what you’re good at and stick with it.
While “The Ranch” trailer doesn’t show Kutcher being “Where’s My Car?”-level dumb, it certainly gives the impression that his Colt isn’t the sharpest tool in the barn.
So, will “The Ranch” be the best thing Netflix has ever made, the worst, or somewhere in between? We’ll all find out on Friday, April 1.