Third-episode verdict: Ballers (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)

The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 4

In the US: Sundays, 10pm, HBO
In the UK: Acquired by Sky Atlantic. No air date set

Three strikes and you’re out. Wrong American game, I know, but that would generally be the rule at this point for a show that scored as poorly as Ballers on the Barrometer, the all-singing, all-dancing, all-smiling guide to quality television.

Yet for some reason I’m almost inclined to keep watching. The show is effectively Entourage, relocated to Miami and set in the world of sports and sports agencies, rather than acting. Okay, it’s got a heroic, good natured agent you want to root for (Dwayne Johnson), rather than a complete git (Jeremy Piven). And yes, the cast is almost entirely black, not the generally paler shades of Entourage.

But black, East Coast Entourage is what it is, right down to the epic misogyny, wanton excess, man-children behaving badly and cameos by famous players – none of whom, of course, I recognised.

Unfortunately, despite the presence of Rob Cordry (The Daily Show, Childrens Hospital), the big differences are:

  1. It’s about as funny as a routine echocardiogram picking up a suspicious murmur
  2. Other than Dwayne, there’s no one at all you can root for.

The first episode was just hideous in every way possible. As was the third episode. The second was marginally better, I grant you, with some moments where you could almost bring yourself to like some other characters and there were signs of jokes.

But overall? Hideous, reprehensible, nasty and almost certainly true to life, unfortunately.

And to some extent, perhaps that’s why there’s part of me that wants to keep watching. The Rock, of course, is great, which helps, too. But I think it’s the fact that it’s like having your worst nightmares confirmed, like on some depressing Channel 4 ‘documentary’ that invites you to judge its participants, that makes me want to keep watching.

So if you like sports and watching people with oodles of cash and car-crash lives, but can’t bear yourself to watch The Real Housewives of anywhere, maybe this is the show for you. If not, do avoid at all costs. It might just suck you in.

Barrometer rating: 4
TMINE prediction: Cancelled by the end of the season, but could last another if HBO thinks it can build an audience