Poker series causes ungratified 'Tilt' - Justin Boron

I had been anticipating the day for months. Reading and watching anything I could about ESPN's new drama "Tilt," my eagerness for its premiere was on par with the excitement I had when I learned a Chipolte would be opening near my neighborhood. Chipolte is the best chain taqueria around and I won't hear any argument otherwise.

So once one came close to home, I was all over it. I actually pounded on the door a month before it opened to find the exact date it would start serving.

Those were the kind of zealous emotions that spilled from my mouth every time "Tilt" was mentioned on television or at a poker game.

But sadly, it turned out to be a huge disappointment.

Expecting a realistic poker drama, the soap opera garbage that writers had passed off as a plot turned my stomach.

All of the main characters aren't really poker players. They are just grifters who know how to play poker.

Each one is a cheat. I guess that's what the game was in its infancy though. The Old West has resurfaced in the form of a cheesy melodrama at ESPN.

The acting doesn't do anything to save the bad writing either.

I'm not sure. But I think Michael Madsen still thinks he is playing a Quentin Tarantino character. He must've not been invited to the wrap party of "Reservoir Dogs" or something because he has never strayed from the stoic delivery of Mr. Blond. His character in "Tilt," The Matador, is just a fatter version of Vic Vega. I can see him in front of the mirror in his set trailer, saying okay, "Be Mr. Blonde."

Rumor has it Madsen is working on a new character for himself though. From eavesdropped reports, it sounds to be on the level that "Blue Steel" was for Derek Zoolander.

David Duchovny, another actor with brutal range, has given it the thumbs up.

Everyone else in the show has a similarly over-dramatic, "Mr. Cool" attitude.

Despite my criticism, I still am infatuated with show.

Just like "Playmakers," it sucked me right in. The cutaways from scene to scene share the same kind of enthralling quality that tells the audience the show is shifting from one meandering subplot to another - like in "Playmakers" when they would switch from Omar Gooding smoking crack to Russell Hornsby whining to the owner about his salary.

My only hope is that the World Series of Poker doesn't lean on ESPN like the NFL did when the network made football players look like a bunch of wanton drug users.

But I have a feeling the WSOP won't need to. Ratings will take care of that.

Justin Boron is the government reporter for the News-Daily. His column appears Monday. He can be reached at 770-478-5753 or jboron@news-daily.com .