Eastbound and Down - Variety

As HBO scans the horizon for distinctive new programming, along comes Eastbound & Down, a comedy whose most salient characteristic is its production auspices. Will Ferrell and his posse produce this show about a former Major League pitcher whose bad behavior lands him back at the middle school he once attended, teaching phys ed and pining for his former girlfriend. Perhaps sports fans are similarly pining for something to fill the emotional void left by "Arliss," but anyone holding HBO to a higher standard will signal for a reliever long before "Eastbound" reaches the bottom of the ninth.

Even with the promise of a Ferrell cameo in future episodes, it's a tired premise - a more profane version of the kind of low-swinging sitcom that could easily have wound up on TBS. Danny McBride (Tropic Thunder) plays Kenny Powers, whose rise and fall as a flame-throwing pitching ace is rapidly documented in the first few minutes of the premiere. He's an amalgam of sports excesses, a mix between Charles Barkley and John Rocker, leaving a trail of empty beer cans as he insults everyone around him.

Less convincing are the circumstances that bring Kenny back to North Carolina, sponging off his tolerant brother (Deadwood's John Hawkes) before taking the teaching gig, mostly to gain proximity to old flame April (Katy Mixon). Sure, she's engaged already to the foppish principal (Andrew Daly), but he's a big fan of Kenny's and thus seemingly oblivious to his scheming to woo her back.

Read the full review: Variety


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