There is nothing like a well-called baseball game. In this era, when so many announcers are former players brought in for chuckles and color commentary, there are fewer and fewer true “team voices.” Vin Scully has called his last Dodgers broadcast (we can hope he might come back for a World Series run, can’t we?), and there may never be another announcer like him in our or any other lifetime. Yet the idea of these old-school sportscasters, the Scullys, the Ernie Harwells, enchants us still. Their voices bring us back, as viewers, to a time when the magic of baseball was still new and fresh and reminds us of a bygone era we likely never saw for ourselves, when the voice on the radio was your only connection to the park.
Brockmire, the new IFC comedy series staring Hank Azaria and Amanda Peet (where the heck has she been hiding for so long?), tells the story of a shamed sportscaster whose on-air tirade brought him both infamy and ridicule. Now, ten years later the hard-drinking, smooth-talking title character is looking for a second chance.
Right from the opening voiceover you can tell Azaria missed his calling as a game announcer. His tone has the right old-timey charm, and his work as a voice actor really helps him nail the Brockmire “voice.” His blazer would make Don Cherry proud, and he calls games as smoothly as a pro. After announcing his wife’s infidelity in DEEPLY lurid detail on air, he left the country for ten years to announce things like cock-fighting in Manila.
Amanda Peet plays Jules, the owner of a small minor league team (and the local bar) in Morrisville, PA, where Brockmire goes to dip his toes back in American baseball.
Charles, Brockmire’s in-booth assistant, is absolutely delightful. Charles and Jules want to use Brockmire’s meme-worthy status on the internet to get more views and listeners to their local team. Charles is the team’s social media expert and has to explain to Brockmire that the internet delights in other people’s misery, including his very public meltdowns. Brockmire is so famous he’s a Drake lyric. His ex-wife Lucy becomes a verb for pegging.
“I’m high and very fragile right now.” – Charles
The bulk of the first episode is Brockmire accepting his new life in Morristown, and whatever this new version of normal. While the announcer initially hates the idea, he accepts the job offer and joins the Morristown Frackers (formerly the Savages… yes, they deal with this) for the season. Jules is the daughter of a former player, but rather than giving her big dreams it buried baseball in her DNA and leaves her no option but to live a baseball life. I found her immediately likable and her motivations are worn right on the surface.
“It just says fuck you.”
“She’ll know what it’s regarding.”
You don’t need to be a baseball fan to enjoy this dark comedy, that’s for sure. As a fan, you’ll notice little things like the team logos and names being just slightly off (obviously for licensing reasons, no surprise here as the tone of the show is a bit too over the top for the MLB to give the stamp of approval to). This isn’t so much a show about baseball as it is about a people whose life are intertwined with the game and who have no choice but to live with it however they can. Brockmire is damaged, but still someone you can root for, and it’s his love of baseball absurdity that keeps him with the Frackers when all common sense tells him to run screaming for the hills. The jokes are off color and often wildly inappropriate, but still hilarious. Azaria delivers quips quicker than a fastball the script is brimming with nuggets baseball fans will dig, while non-fans will just enjoy the trainwreck.
Give this one a shot.
Brockmire starts April 5 on the IFC channel, but you can watch the first episode online here until the end of March.