Big Shot is a brand-new series that follows a tough college basketball coach as he gets demoted, forced to accept a job at an all-girls high school. Created by David E. Kelley, Dean Lorey and Brad Garrett, the new series premiered today on Disney+, giving subscribers a taste of what’s to come in this 10-episode season. Here is a detailed recap of the pilot episode.
The series starts with Marvyn Korn (John Stamos) driving his Tesla from Chicago to San Diego, cutting to flashbacks of his time coaching the University of Wisconsin’s men’s basketball team, part of the NCAA. We see that he’s led them to victory and that he can also be tough. We then get a flashback that lets us know why he’s making this long drive to the west coast.
In the flashback, we meet Marvyn’s agent, Sam, who tells him he’s found him a job, which could provide a way back into the NCAA. Marvyn is frustrated, asking if it’s division 2 and then 1 before finding out it’s high school. As a final blow to his ego, it’s a private all-girl’s school. Sam promises him that if he does a good job, he can get him back into the NCAA.
Walking into Westbrook High, Marvyn finds himself surrounded by teenage girls, all of whom look at him weirdly in their blue/white/maroon uniforms. Inside Principal Sherilyn Thomas’s office (Yvette Nicole Brown), Marvyn finds out that hiring him was not her idea, but came at the insistence of the school’s largest donor, Larry Gruzinsky. His daughter is on the basketball team and he hopes Marvyn can make the Westbrook Sirens a division 1 school. He asks why the previous coach was fired and all Sherilyn will say is that it was due to a code of conduct violation. “Do not screw this up,” she warns him.
Entering the gym, Coach Korn sees his new team playing on the court. He enters his new office and pulls out his phone, calling Sam and telling him the school doesn’t want him. Sam tells him nobody wants him and reminds him he needs to make this work. As he ends the call, Holly Barrett (Jessalyn Gilsig) enters his office and introduces herself as his Assistant Coach. She admits to being a fan of his NCAA coaching work and he asks her for advice coaching girls. It’s then that we learn that he was fired for losing control of his temper and throwing a chair during a game. Holly’s first response is that she wants to say treat the girls like you would boys, but she adds that the girls he’ll be coaching are future leaders who can be overly anxious and a bit much. Her last bit of advice: “Don’t pretend, they’ll see right through it.”
Out on the court, Marvyn blows his whistle to get their attention. A girl named Olive (Monique Green) dribbles past him, telling him whistles are “Triggering.” While introducing himself, Coach Korn promises he will be direct, adding that if he calls them stupid, they should ignore it, but if he says why they’re stupid, they should pay attention. He reveals that the Sirens are 1 in 3 for the season and that their next game is Friday, playing against Laguna Niguel, adding that he intends to beat them. He instantly gives the girls advice to lose a pound, pointing to Destiny (Tiana Le) and telling her she needs to lose 5 pounds. This prompts Samantha (Cricket Wampler) to make a squeaky noise that sounds almost like a laugh, who defends herself against the tough coach, telling him she can’t help it, it’s related to a brain injury when she was a child.
At the end of the line of girls is player #24 chewing gum, who Marvyn finds out is Louise Gruzinsky (Nell Verlaque), the daughter of the school’s wealthy donor whose last name is also above the scoreboard in the gym. When he asks if she’s chewing gum and she says yes, he says “I’m sorry,” to which she responds “Don’t be sorry, it’s not your fault.” He pulls her aside, giving the girls a balance exercise while he asks Louise if they’re going to have a problem. While telling him no, Louise goes on to compliment his looks, which makes Marvyn mad. He turns to the team, asks them to raise their right hand and wave goodbye to Louise, suspending her from the team.
Cut to Marvyn back in Principal Sherilyn Thomas’s office, who tells him “You screwed this up,” the very thing she told him not to do. He holds his ground, defending his decision to suspend the team’s start player and daughter of the man responsible for bringing him to Westbrook in the first place. “Look at me Korn,” Sherilyn commands. “This is not a good start.” Meanwhile, the girls are in their locker room making jokes about their new coach, still stunned that he suspended Louise.
In his new office, Marvyn uses his big TV to watch Pardon the Interruption on ESPN where hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon are still talking about how Coach Korn got fired from the NCAA. Destiny comes in with tears in her eyes, having changed already, telling him he embarrassed her. “You fat shamed me in front of everyone,” she tells Marvyn as he looks stunned, asking her to sit down and apologizing. He tells her he doesn’t see people in terms of thin or fat, but rather in terms of what they need to do to become better athletes. He compliments her as a talented power forward who gets tired in the middle of the game, to which she says she’s only playing because it looks good on a college application. She tells him that if he wants her to be engaged, he needs to inspire her, calling him a bully as she storms out. Holly emerges from her office asking what just happened and Marvyn tells her it was between him and Destiny. She asks him to join her for a beer.
At a sports bar, Holly learns that Marvyn doesn’t have any friends, spending all of his time thinking about basketball and how to make his team better. We learn that both he and Holly are divorced, Marvyn having been such a workaholic that his wife left him and Holly having had an affair behind her neglectful ex-husband’s back. Back to the topic of the team they both coach, she tells Marvyn that some of the girls are smarter than him and more powerful, given the massive fortunes they have access to. She encourages him to change his decision about Louise, adding that she’s very good at getting the upper hand.
That night inside his oceanfront hotel, Marvyn gets a call from his teenage daughter Emma (Sophia Mitri Schloss) who is back in Chicago with her mom. Prompted with questions, he tells her La Jolla is beautiful and when she asks if she’s being himself, he tells her he’s trying. She makes a joke about robbing a convenience store before going to bed and says “I love you.” The phone hangs up and into the silence of his room, Marvyn says “I love you, too.” Cut to all of the Sirens getting a text from Coach Korn that they are going to have a 6:00 am practice tomorrow and that if they’re not there by 5:50 am, he considers them “Lat” (misspelling “Late”).
With all the girls sleepily bouncing basketballs on the court, Coach Korn enters after Holly and says “Welcome to 2-a-days,” telling them they will practice before and after school until their match with Laguna. While having them do a karaoke step, he calls out Carolyn (Tisha Custodio), who goes by the nickname “Mouse,” who he says does it perfectly, asking the rest of the team to copy her. Larry Gruzinski (Michael Trucco) enters, introducing himself to Coach Korn and thanking him for suspending his daughter, thereby teaching her a lesson, while also asking for him to let her play in the Laguna Niguel game. He says that team has a player who’s always watched by college scouts and if they see Louise do well in the game, she would get on their radar. Coach Korn holds his ground, refusing to budge on his decision. Larry tells him that throwing chairs isn’t really about reversing a referee's call because they rarely do that, it’s about influencing the next one. “If you fail here, then what?,” Larry asks as he takes his leave.
At lunch, the Sirens sit together and complain about Coach Korn. Olive suggests that they all quit, which would force the school to fire him. Mouse is the only one who defects, saying she actually likes him. Olive says she heard that at UW, he would put tampons in the player’s lockers if they played “Girly.” Admittedly, the girls agree that they don’t thing they can beat Laguna Niguel without Louise in the game.
Marvyn is walking out of the school when a car almost hits him, driven by Louise. When he gets mad and tells her she almost hit him, she is on the verge of tears and says “Woulda, shoulda, coulda.” He asks her to pull over and turn the car off, getting into the passenger seat and asking why she’s crying. She tells him she needs to play in the game and that basketball is all she cares about. “I’m not better than you that way,” she says before apologizing. She tells him her dad expects her to get recruited by a college for basketball and her chances will be over if the scout hears that she was suspended for her attitude. “It’s about making my father proud,” she says. Coach Korn softens a little bit, telling her she can dress and sit on the bench at the game, but not play. “Scouts will think you had a pulled hamstring or something,” he tells her. Getting out of the car, Sherilyn stands on the curb watching and asks what he was doing in a student’s car. He asks if there’s a policy against it. “There’s such a thing as optics,” she cautions.
At that evening’s practice, Holly tells him he’s softening already over the way he bent his rule for Louise. He laughs, telling her he’s only been there two days and he’s already made two players cry, asking if he’s made her cry, too. While the girls run drills, Marvyn and Holly go over plays on a markerboard inside his office where she confesses that they really need Louise to play in order to win. He calls Mouse and Samantha in, who are taking charge in Louise’s absence, asking them to spend time together outside of practice to get inside each other’s heads. Both girls look a little uncomfortable with the idea and he asks if they don’t like each other. Mouse thinks Samantha has a crush on her and Samantha denies it. Holly tells them they don’t have to do it and they leave. “What just happened,” Coach Korn asks Holly, looking stunned. She tells him it’s just the usual confusion girls have at this age.
Back at the sports bar, Marvyn and Holly drink beer and he tells her he doesn’t think he can do this. He brings up everything that’s happened with the girls in just his two first days and asks what else he needs to know about girls, making Holly laugh. “I had no idea what I was in for,” he says, as Holly reminds him that he knows basketball better than anyone.
The Laguna Niguel game has arrived and Coach Korn preps his team in the locker room, sharing a John Wooden quote that inspired him before every game. “Success is a peace of mind, knowing that you made the effort to be your best,” he says before the game starts. Even though the Sirens are playing on their home court, they’re getting clobbered with a score of 16 to 38. During a break, Coach Korn gets frustrated with the girls for all of the mental mistakes they’re making. Looking at Holly and realizing he’s being too tough, he asks for their eyes to be on him and he reveals that he wasn’t actually a good basketball player himself, his father calling him an embarrassment. Those harsh words drove him more than the John Wooden quote. “But the irony of those words is that they made me lose myself,” he adds. “I throw tantrums, I throw chairs.” He tells them to just go back out there and try their best. “Life is bigger than basketball.” He says “Do your best” may sound lame, but it’s been his secret to success all his life. “That’s all I got. That’s all I’ve ever had. What do you got?”
Back out on the court, the Sirens drastically improve their game, bringing the score up 50 to 56. Coach Korn calls his last time out, bringing the girls together and asking if anyone can hit a 3. The girls all agree that Louise is the only one who can. Holly pulls Marvyn aside and tells him to set an example and let her play. He turns around and calls Louise in, telling her there’s no timeouts left. In the crowd, we see Larry Gruzinski sitting with Sherilyn, both of them looking excited. Louise quickly makes a shot, adding 3 points to the score. After the other team takes the ball down the court, Louise gets it back and throws it just as the time runs out. It hits the backboard, touches the rim, and rolls over the side, not going in. The final score is 53 to 56, the Sirens lost. Louise is crushed as she looks into the stands and sees her dad looking mad.
The girls are in the locker room when Coach Korn walks in and tells them the next time they play Laguna Niguel, he expects to beat them. “This outcome was unacceptable,” he sternly says, before smirking and adding “But we’re just getting started.” Back out in the gym, Sherilyn approaches him and says “That loss was better than any win we’ve ever had.” He asks her to tell the girls, but she says “I told the coach” and leaves.
Back in his hotel, Marvyn has ESPN on when he gets another call from his daughter Emma. He asks why she’s up, saying it’s 1:00 am in Chicago. Asking questions about his day, he tells her they didn’t win the game and when she asks, he says he didn’t throw any chairs. Asking if he was him, he says “Most of the time I was.” Emma tells him she thinks this job will be good for him. “Me too,” he agrees.
Next week’s episode is called "The Marvyn Korn Eﬀect." Here’s a brief description from Disney+:
Marvyn’s attempt to amp up the girls’ practice regimen put him at odds with Westbrook’s faculty.
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).