“The Ranch” marks a reunion for Ashton Kutcher with both his co-star from “The 70s Show” Danny Masterson and two of the writers from his time on “Two and a Half Men.” The Emmy nominated Don Reo and Jim Patterson created this heartfelt series that stars Kutcher as Colt Bennett, a semi-pro football player who returns to Colorado to help his brother Jimmy (Masterson) and father Beau (Sam Elliott) run the family ranch. Two-time Oscar nominee Debra Winger plays Maggie, the estranged wife of Beau who runs a local watering hole while “24” and “Happy Endings” alum Elisha Cuthbert is an ex looking to reconnect with Colt.
Reviews for the 10 episodes of this comedy that starts streaming on Netflix on Friday (April 1) have been especially strong for Elliott. This veteran actor is enjoying a career renaissance as of late. His arc on the final season of “Justified” netted him a Critics’ Choice award last year while his single scene in “Grandma” earned him a nomination from the Chicago film critics.
Among those critics singling him out for his work on “The Ranch” are Daniel Fienberg (The Hollwood Reporter) who observes, “Elliott digs deep enough to let us see how Beau’s stubbornness is both a way of life and a defense mechanism, and there are unfolding, joke-free scenes with Elliott and Winger that make this into one of the relatable spousal relationships you’ll see on TV.” And for Brian Lowry (Variety), “the primary draw here is Elliott, operating well within his wheelhouse as the irascible dad.”
While “The Ranch” is shot in the style of a traditional three-camera comedy, it benefits from a flexible running time for each episode as Netflix is not constrained by time slots. Likewise, there are no restrictions on the language and content, allowing for a refreshingly adult approach. Elliott delivers in both the serious scenes and the many laugh-out-loud moments.
He began his career with a small role in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and has carved out a niche as a cowboy/cowhand ever since. Indeed, Elliott reaped his only Emmy nomination to date for his portayal of gunslinger “Wild” Bill Hickok in the 1995 miniseries “Buffalo Girls”; he lost to Donald Sutherland (“Citizen X”).