Eastbound and Down
The now annual Will Ferrell comedy where Ferrell is the greatest
McBride, again under the direction of Foot Fist’s Jody Hill, stars as former Baseball great Kenny Powers. Once the Major’s most promising pitcher Powers’ talent shrunk while his ego skyrocketed, and after one painful performance too many has been banished from the game. But this being Ferrell and the gang Powers is of course an insufferable dickhead; abrasive, petulant, egotistical, and prone to fits of belligerent rage. Having hit rock bottom Powers returns to his home town as a substitute gym teacher living on his brother’s sofa.
While the timing is no doubt pure coincidence the recent A-Rod debacle and America’s continued love/hate relationship with baseball and its stars provides some good context, and Eastbound and Down certainly illustrates a good question; why exactly do we make heroes out of greedy, dishonest scumbags based solely on their ability to throw a ball?
While it’s a set-up ripe for some well worked satire there is something sadly lacking about Eastbound and Down. Ferrell’s last big screen outing Semi-Pro did nothing if not highlight the point that making it up as you go will only get you so far. Simply put, McBride, while undoubtedly talented in a comedic sense, is just not the ad-liber Ferrell is, and he lacks the innate hapless charm of a john C. Reilly. Given the right lines it’s a home run; “we’re talking real love here, not just the make me cum kind,” but left to his own devices McBride all too often just scurries for cover under a barrage of F-bombs. It certainly suits the persona of a man who seems to exist in some state of near-permanent roid-rage, but it begins to grate after a while.
Comedy like this works not because of the character but because of the skewed nature of the world they inhabit. The likes of Ron Burgendy and Ricky Bobby sit as the painfully unaware fairy on a Christmas tree of eccentricity that extends on down from them through the rest of the cast. Powers has no-one to riff off, and having him as the heaving lunatic in a room full of straight men does nothing to accentuate his antics and only succeeds in making him seem a little off.
Saying that, this sort of shtick is certainly well suited to the half hour format, and the lean eight-episode order means it’s unlikely to outstay its welcome. But unless Ferrell plans to cameo every week like he did in episode two as a greasy used car mogul, or they plan on writing some actual jokes into the show, Eastbound and Down could potentially go the way of its erstwhile hero. After all, it’s a quarter of the season gone and we’re not really anywhere with it so far.
Starring: Danny McBride, Katy Mixon, John Hawkes, Andrew Daly, Ben Best
Created By: Danny McBride, Ben Best, Jody Hill