Eastbound & Down, another innovatively funny series from the HBO Network, chronicles the life of a professional baseball player who was forced into early retirement and subsequently became a high school gym teacher. His rude antics and public displays of disaffection which landed him in poor standing within society, coupled with the fact that he was addicted to cocaine and accused of using steroids, eventually caused him to leave Major League Baseball and move in with his brother’s family in a lower middle-class home, while still maintaining the delusion that he may soon be able to re-enter the arena of professional baseball. Despite the fact that this story line is vaguely reminiscent of movie plots past, the series is produced by the minds behind Anchorman, Talladega Nights and Step Brothers which will hopefully put a new spin on the old idea.
The casting of one of the series’ writers, Danny McBride of Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express fame, in the lead role bodes to be a promising start to the comedic actor’s burgeoning career. A virtually unknown ensemble cast shows the possibility of greatness due to their spot-on comedic timing and ability to react to the outrageous antics of Danny McBride’s character, Kenny Powers. The well known producers and writers of the series give a sort of validity to the staying power of the hilarious new show. The overtly crude humor coupled with delightfully awkward moments and the emergence of sporadic nervous double-talking by McBride let the audience laugh out loud at the amusing situations.
One of the main problems with Eastbound & Down, however, is that it lacks character development; the show briefly grazes over Powers’ past as a professional athlete and the aspects of that occupation that led him into his current, more dire, situation, confusing several of the characters’ motivations because of this. Although it also lacks relatable characters, the audience’s ability to keep the outrageous personalities of the characters at a distance allows for their caricature-like qualities to be amplified and made even more hilarious.
Eastbound & Down definitely has its issues but the fact that it is only allotted half an hour in which to tell an entire story each week creates a problem for the writers and the director that cannot easily be fixed within the first episode, entitled Chapter 1. My advice would be to keep watching the genuinely funny show because these problems are indeed fixable over time.
Famous comedic guest stars such as Will Ferrell are promised to appear within the upcoming season which should increase the ratings and fan base, allowing the show to stay afloat.