Apple TV+ review: ‘Greatness Code’ a uniquely presented sports documentary series

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Apple’s new steaming service has teamed up with Lebron James and Tom Brady to produce this surprisingly engaging TV series, which applies creative animation to stories of sports excellence.

Before team sports return from their long coronavirus hiatus in late July, Apple TV+ is serving up a new, short-form documentary series, featuring a group of athletic icons. Greatness Code is directed by Gotham Chopra, and comes from the production companies of Lebron James and Tom Brady, both of whom are featured in the series.

At first glance, Greatness Code looks a lot like some of the other documentary projects Apple TV+ has pursued, most recently Dear and Dads. Those shows entailed Apple getting into business with big-name talent, but not doing anything particularly interesting with that talent aside from extolling their all-around greatness.

Furthermore, it’s a short-form series, with the episodes lasting just five to eight minutes. As the disastrous recent launch of the streaming service Quibi has shown, the concept of “star-studded and short-form” has its limitations.

However, Greatness Code is a pleasant surprise, largely because it finds creative and clever ways to present a sports documentary, which include animation and special effects. And as opposed to Dear, which was built around the notion of people writing letters to the featured celebrities, Greatness Code actually includes surprising moments of self-doubt.

King James and Tom Terrific

Director Chopra, the son of Deepak Chopra, previously made the Showtime documentary Kobe Bryant’s Muse, about the since-deceased NBA legend, and Tom vs. Time, about Brady’s training regimen. He went on to found the “content platform” Religion of Sports, along with Brady and NFL star-turned-TV host Michael Strahan, and that company co-produced Greatness Code along with James’ “athlete empowerment brand,” Uninterrupted.

James, for his part, has actually pursued interesti