Eastbound & Down: Season 1 - Review
Review by Jack Foley
HBO scored another comedy hit with Eastbound & Down, a rude, downbeat comedy that featured a fine central performance from Danny McBride.
Admittedly, the show was an acquired taste and frequently made for uncomfortable viewing – taking the cringe-inducing comedy style of landmark shows such as The Office and taking it to the next level.
But there were moments of genuine heart, too, which enabled it to remain a consistently surprising show.
McBride (of Tropic Thunder/Pineapple Express movie fame) stars as Kenny Powers, a guy who had it all at just 19 – the best pitcher in Major League Baseball, fans screaming his name and sponsorship deals to make David Beckham turn green with envy.
But two things got in the way: his fading fastball and his insufferable personality. After a spectacular career flame-out, Kenny goes home to Shelby County, NC and lands a job as a substitute gym teacher, where his high school sweetheart April Buchanon (Katy Mixon), provides a welcome distraction to his eclipsed star status.
Whilst crashing at his brother’s place, Kenny spends every waking moment cashing in the last of his dying fame and plotting his inevitable comeback.
As central characters go, Powers was a train-wreck. Conceited, arrogant, selfish, rude, ignorant and self-obsessed, he nevertheless remained an endearing presence thanks to McBride’s ability to pull back the curtain ever so slightly to show a good soul battling to get through.
Goodness seldom prevailed, of course, but as each of the six episodes progressed, there was a sustained sense of hope that Powers would pull it together and learn from past mistakes – a story arc that made the bittersweet ending all the more poignant and lasting.
And Powers was by no means the biggest baffoon on the block. Will Ferrell’s outrageous car salesman was a schumck in need of a comedown, that Powers eventually managed to provide in one of the show’s undoubted highlights, while his high school principal was another fool awaiting a fall.
Eastbound & Down certainly won’t appeal to every taste as its capacity to offend is high, while the humour is hit-and-miss and quite often mean-spirited (you’ll hate yourself for laughing at times). But if you’re a fan of the Will Ferrell-Adam McKay (Anchorman/Step Brothers) brand of comedy, and like the risque humour of shows like The Office, then this has plenty to admire.
McBride, meanwhile, emerges as a real star in waiting and a fearlessly self-depracating comedy talent to rival the likes of Gervais, Stiller and Ferrell.
UK DVD Release: March 15, 2010