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HBO

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Various
Cast:
Danny McBride, Steve Little, Ike Barinholtz, Elizabeth De Razzo, Don Johnson, Lily Tomlin, John Cothran Jr.
Writing Credits:
Various

Synopsis:
HBO® premieres eight new episodes of the half-hour comedy series about a deluded, burned-out, former major-league pitcher named Kenny powers, who after fleeing his hometown in North Carolina spent a soul-searching season in Mexico as “La Flama Blanca” - and ended up returning to the States as a changed man. Or is he? Picking up a year after Season 2 ends, the still-audacious Kenny brings his “f*#ked up behavior” to Myrtle Beach, SC - a tourist destination filled with firework stores, mini-golf and underage boozing - and somehow resurrects his baseball career as the closer for the minor-league Myrtle Beach Mermen.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Norwegian
Swedish
Danish
Finnish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 240 min.
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 12/4/12

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary for All Eight Episodes
• Seasons One and Two Recaps
• “Dinner with the Schaeffers” Deleted Scene
• Deleted Scenes
• Outtakes


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Eastbound & Down: The Complete Third Season [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 14, 2012)

As I mentioned when I reviewed Season One of Eastbound and Down, I didn’t expect much from it but I ended up enjoying it. However, Season Two was less focused and thus less satisfying.

Still, I liked the series enough to give Season Three a shot. I’ll look at the eight episodes of Season Three in broadcast order. The plot synopses come straight disc’s menus.

Chapter 14: “Enjoying a new lease on his baseball career as the closer for the minor-league Myrtle Beach Mermen, Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) settles into a life of bodyboarding, jet-skiing and hard-partying with his catcher, Shane (Jason Sudeikis). A detour to Shelby to attend the one-year birthday of his child reunites Kenny with April (Katy Mixon).”

C14 offers a very good start to Season Three. It gives us the crazy/stupid crudeness that highlighted Season One but also manages to move along the series’ narrative/characters in a meaningful way. It allows Kenny to show humanity but still give us his trademark crass egotist. It’s a wild, fun ride to launch the year.

Chapter 15: “With the baby in tow, a seething Kenny heads north in search of April. Getting no assistance from Dustin (John Hawkes), Maria (Elizabeth De Razzo) or Jamie (Jerry Minor), Kenny tracks down his erstwhile lackey Stevie (Steve Little), currently employed at Ashley Schaeffer's (Will Ferrell) car dealership. Kenny crashes a perverse plantation fete the dealer is throwing in an effort to liberate Stevie.”

While it reinvents no white trash wheels, the sight of Kenny’s pathetic attempts to care for baby Toby definitely entertain – how can one resist the notion of an infant in a backpack or allusions to The Ten Commandments? C15 allows us to re-encounter some old characters and push things along well. Add to that a genuinely surreal finale and C15 keeps the season moving nicely.

Chapter 16: “Pro scout Roy McDaniel arrives in Myrtle Beach to ask Kenny to mentor Ivan Dochenko (Ike Barinholtz), a promising young Russian pitching prospect. Stevie lays down the ground rules for his return to Kenny's team, while grappling with Shane and Kenny's relationship.”

“Jealousy” becomes the primary topic of C16, as that affects the relationships between Kenny/Ivan and Stevie/Shane. One appears to be rectified at the end of the episode – we may lose a character – but the other intensifies. All of these elements combine for another solid episode.

Chapter 17: “Convinced his son is cursed, Kenny blames Toby for his recent travails. Later, he tries to connect with Shane's straight-laced family during a difficult time. Stevie is overcome by guilt.”

When I said I thought we might lose a character in C16, C17 shows I was right. C17 focuses mostly on subjects related to that death, and does so via Kenny’s typically egotistical/self-centered ways. The subject matter makes C17 a bit more subdued than usual, but it’s still got the requisite crassness and exhibition of Kenny’s personality flaws. Its more low-key tone makes it a nice change of pace while it still fits with the rest of the season.

Chapter 18: “Kenny is surprised by unannounced visitors. Desperate to win back control of his team, Kenny decides to stage the 4th of July party to end all 4th of July parties. Meanwhile, a guilt-ridden Stevie struggles with confessing to Maria.”

As I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t wild about Season 2, so the return of some S2 characters here causes me some concern – apparently justified, as C18 is the least interesting S3 episode to date. Not that it’s a bad show, and it does advance the series’ character/narrative choices, but it’s just not especially funny or interesting. It’s got enough to it to keep my attention – and it introduces a potentially major new character - but it’s a bit of a disappointment compared to its predecessors.

Chapter 19: “Kenny and Eduardo (Don Johnson) reach into their shared past in an effort to find permanent child care for baby Toby. Stevie continues to lament his loss; Kenny embraces a new pitch while facing up to his responsibilities as a man and a father.”

C19 continues the series’ fairly serious run, and the presence of Lily Tomlin as Kenny’s mom doesn’t work as well as I expected. While it’s great to see her, she doesn’t get a ton of room to fly here; Tammy Powers is simply a flat character. Like C18, this is a decent episode but it’s not as fun as the better shows.

Chapter 20: “Kenny tries to win over Coach Banks (John Cothran, Jr.) and get back in the rotation but many obstacles threaten to detour Kenny in his pursuit of redemption. Stevie attempts to win back Maria.”

C20 restores some of the series’ insanity that’d essentially gone by the wayside in the last few shows – and that’s a good thing. Actually, it still includes some of the more serious overtones, but it throws in more of the expected craziness. Will Ferrell and Craig Robinson help turn this into a solid episode.

Chapter 21: “As Kenny adjusts to the new realities of his life, a twist of fate alters his future with the Mermen.”

Season Three finishes in a provocative way here. I don’t want to say much because my comments would inevitably fall into “spoiler” territory, but let’s just say that Kenny’s path takes unexpected turns. It’s a good conclusion to a strong year, a season that allows Eastbound to thoroughly rebound from its spotty second term.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Eastbound & Down appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on these Blu-ray Discs. Season Two improved on the visuals of Season One, and Season Three topped them all.

Sharpness was consistently satisfying. Only a sliver of softness ever occurred, as a few wide shots could be a smidgen tentative. Nonetheless, definition was usually tight and accurate. No issues of jaggies or shimmering appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. The shows came with light grain but lacked any specks, marks or print flaws.

With a generally natural palette, the series’ colors seemed strong. The hues appeared vivid and full throughout the shows. Blacks were deep and dense, while shadows appeared smooth and distinctive. Overall, the programs looked quite good and definitely surpassed the spottier visuals from earlier years.

As for the series’ DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio, the tracks were fine but could be too active. During some scenes – like those at ballparks or clubs and one in Chapter 15 with cannon blasts – the soundscape made sense and delivered a vivid, involving setting. However, the mix tended to use the surrounds too prominently even in quieter scenes, so they became a bit of a distraction. This wasn’t a fatal flaw, but I’d prefer that the speakers offer better balance.

Audio quality was fine. Speech sounded distinctive and concise, without notable edginess, and music appeared dynamic and full. Effects showed good accuracy and added nice heft when appropriate, such as during the scenes with those cannons. The overactive surrounds created a minor nuisance, but the shows still had “B”-worthy sound.

When we head to the extras, we start with audio commentaries for all eight episodes:

Chapter 14: writer/actor Danny McBride, writer/director Jody Hill and actor Katy Mixon.

Chapter 15: McBride, Hill, writer Harris Wittels, director David Gordon Green, and actors Steve Little and Elizabeth De Razzo.

Chapter 16: McBride, Hill, Little, editors Jeff Seibenick and Travis Sittard, and actor Ike Barinholtz.

Chapter 17: McBride, Hill, Green, Little, De Razzo and writer Josh Parkinson.

Chapter 18: McBride, Hill, Little, De Razzo and actor Erick Chavarria.

Chapter 19: McBride, Hill, Green, Seibenick, Sittard and Little.

Chapter 20: McBride, Hill, Seibenick, Sittard, writer John Carcieri and actor Craig Robinson.

Chapter 21: McBride, Hill, Mixon and Little.

Across these tracks, we hear about story/character subjects, cast and performances, deleted scenes, music, sets and locations, and a few other areas. The commentaries start pretty well, as the first couple of them offer a nice mix of details and flow in a positive way.

After that, though, the tracks become spottier. While they still include some good information, they tend to become more focused on praise and laughing and less on concrete notes. They remain worth a listen, but they lose steam as the season progresses.

On Disc One, we find recaps for the series’ first two years. The Season One overview goes for three minutes, 32 seconds, while the Season Two synopsis lasts one minute, 32 seconds. Both consist of show clips without any additional narration/explanation. They probably won’t help explain the show to uninitiated fans, but they can help remind viewers of what they might’ve forgotten.

Disc Two launched with Dinner with the Schaeffers. It goes for five minutes, 49 seconds as it shows a long deleted scene from Chapter 15 in which a tertiary character tells an odd story. I’m not sure why it gets its own section and doesn’t show up in “Deleted Scenes”, but it’s amusing.

26 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 48 minutes, 10 seconds. We find a mix of short tidbits and fairly major excisions, such as the first, which gives us a long chat between Kenny and Shane. This area restores a lost thread with Kenny at a local seafood place, and the final clip offers a cameo from Val Kilmer as the Texas team owner.

I’m surprised that one got the boot, as it totally eliminates Kilmer’s presence in S3 – and it’s pretty good, too. Some of the others are also quite entertaining; I assume they were cut solely due to time considerations. On the other hand, two long, pointless Stevie sequences were appropriate omissions. One lets us see him hit on a woman on the beach, and the other allows us to view his head/eyebrow shaving. Both go on forever and seem self-indulgent. They’re the only real drags in an otherwise entertaining collection of scenes.

Next comes a collection of Outtakes. This reel goes for eight minutes, 57 seconds as it shows goofs and giggles. I hoped for more alternate takes, but this is mostly a standard blooper reel.

After a somewhat disappointing second year, Eastbound & Down bounces back with a largely satisfying Season Three. Though we still get some lulls, more than enough of the year succeeds to make this a good batch of shows. The Blu-ray delivers very good picture with generally solid audio and a few interesting supplements. Fans will enjoy the ride that Season Three provides.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main