Preview: Eastbound & Down 1×1

The Frat Pack meets a jock

Eastbound and Down

In the US: Sundays, 10.30pm, HBO. Starts February 15th

Forgive me if this review is a bit hazy, since I actually saw this last July and haven’t watched it since. Anyway, there’s this guy… erm.

Okay, start again.

If you caught Tropic Thunder in cinemas last year, you’ll have noticed two good things: Tom Cruise and Danny McBride. McBride played the explosives expert on the film, and now, since the Frat Pack does like to stick together, here he is starring in his own TV show produced by Will Ferrell.

Here he plays Kenny Powers, a former big league baseball pitcher who has returned to his home town to teach at High School after his career collapsed – mainly because he’s the most obnoxious, racist, sexist, homophobic, anything-phobic jock imaginable and got thrown out of every team he joined.

Whether you’ll enjoy Eastbound & Down is really down to whether you like two things: cringe comedy and abuse – albeit clever, well-observed abuse.

Plot
Relief Pitcher Kenny Powers was poised to rule the Big Leagues, but two things got in the way: his fading fastball and his insufferable personality. After a spectacular career flame-out, Kenny came home to Shelby County, NC and picked up a job as a substitute gym teacher (mostly so his brother Dustin would stop threatening to kick him out). He’s spent every moment since then cashing in the last of his dying fame while plotting his inevitable comeback… one beer at a time.

Eastbound & Down‘ is the latest project to come out of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s comedic goldmine Gary Sanchez Productions, which also launched FunnyOrDie.com. Starring Danny McBride (‘Pineapple Express’), Katy Mixon (‘Four Christmases’), John Hawkes (‘Deadwood’) and a host of other talented comedians, ‘Eastbound & Down’ was created by McBride along with two friends from film school: Jody Hill and Ben Best. The hilarious new series was shot on location in North Carolina and also includes a few guest appearances by Ferrell as a local car dealer with marvelous hair.

Is it any good?
Well, I’m not going to say I loved it, but it wasn’t half bad. If you’ve seen Dodgeball, just imagine an 18/R certificate version and you’ve got Eastbound & Down.

The humour really lies in the central character and his delusion that as a professional sports player, he’s as close to God as it’s possible to get, even though he’s a stupid, obnoxious bore (Sample joke: “I’m an athlete like you. I’m training for a triathlon.” “No, I play real sports. Who wants to train to be the best at exercising?”).

He spends most of this first episode going around town, meeting people he used to go to high school with, and insulting them, all while believing they all really adore him and that he has an entitlement to be rich and famous again.

While that’s entertaining enough at first, it’s a stretch to make it work for the entire first episode, so how it’ll pan out without some greater degree of depth for the rest of the season.

Whether Powers will ‘learn a valuable lesson’ or whether he’ll simply be shot, I don’t know, but I’m unconvinced that this will entertain for more than a few episodes at most. But it’s maybe worth a try, since clearly Ferrell knows what he’s doing and McBride is quite brilliant as Powers.

You can watch some videos here to find out more if you’re interested.