‘The Ranch’ shifts into soap-opera mode with the departure of Masterson (TV review)

“The Ranch” Part 6 (a.k.a. the second half of Season 3) has a big issue to address: the loss of Danny Masterson. Due to sexual harassment allegations, Masterson was fired from the Netflix comedy last year. This is the first portion of the series to not include his character, Rooster. That will be a hard sell to a lot of fans, being as he has been a big part of the series since its launch.

(Spoilers follow.)

At the end of Part 5, Rooster is threatened by Mary’s ex-boyfriend and told to leave town or his family will be harmed. Part 6 picks up the following day as Colt (Ashton Kutcher) deals with his brother not showing up for work and other engagements. There is a question of whether or not he has run off, or if something has happened to him. Police find his bike crashed by a cliff, but can’t find a body. The show leaves it pretty open as to whether he died or faked his death, but the family assumes the worst and holds a funeral.

For the next few episodes, “The Ranch” really struggles to find its footing while relying on its supporting characters. It is clearly missing the chemistry Masterson had with the rest of the cast, and I considered stopping watching it altogether. However, because they’re only half-hour episodes, I pressed on.

Enter Dax Shepard as Luke, the long-lost cousin. Luke is an Army vet with PTSD issues, but he has plenty of jokes as well. I appreciate that “The Ranch” didn’t replace Rooster with a similar character, but I really do miss him, as the show was built around the relationship between him and Colt. I can see how Luke could potentially take on the same role in future seasons, and I’ll hope for the best.

During all the events I’ve mentioned, we also have the birth of Colt’s and Abby’s (Elisha Cuthbert) baby, issues with Newman’s Hill, and Mary (Megyn Price) suffering from addiction. The show certainly plays into the drama of owning a ranch in today’s world.

(End of spoilers.)

“The Ranch” has evolved from a laugh-tracked R-rated comedy into a laugh-tracked R-rated soap opera. I’m not sure I like the new angle, but I’ll stick with it through at least Part 7. The quick run time and strong history of the series makes it worthwhile. Plus, it’s always funny to hear Sam Elliott say “F***.”

“The Ranch” Part 6:

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