Brockmire premieres April 5, 10pm on IFC.
Brockmire is a comedy series starring Hank Azaria as Jim Brockmire, a character that he actually created on a sketch he did for Funny or Die. The show also stars Amanda Peet (The Whole Nine Yards, Saving Silverman) and Tyrel Jackson Williams. Peet plays the owner of the minor league team that Jim is wanting to broadcast for, and Williams plays his “producer” who ironically knows nothing about Baseball, and doesn’t even like the sport. This review will be spoiler-free for the most part, other than a few things from the premiere episode, most of which you see in the trailer.
As the show begins, Jim is a radio broadcaster for the Kansas City Royals. He is a very popular personality in the business, known for his outlandish metaphors and frequent on the job drinking. He is in the middle of calling a game as the premiere opens, and we see Jim going at the bottle hard as he starts talking about his wife and how this was their 20th anniversary. He then goes on to describe how he went home earlier in the day to surprise his wife with flowers, only to find her in the middle of an orgy with several other people, including one of their neighbors. Jim proceeds to get into further detail as we see some hilarious shots of people around the ballpark and the rest of the city reacting to Jim’s tirade. After his freak out is over, we get the title screen, and the show cuts to ten years in the future, which is where the majority of the rest of the season takes place.
After ten years of traveling the world and indulging in all kinds of debauchery, Jim returns to America after receiving an offer to broadcast for a minor league team, the Morristown Frackers. The job doesn’t turn out to be quite what he expected, but he agrees to stay and do it anyways. We are quickly introduced to Julia and Charles, played by Peet and Williams, respectively. Julia grew up in Morristown and recently bought the team in an attempt to keep it from being dismantled. Charles is a teenage internet whiz kid who has no interest in Baseball, but is doing this job in order to save money and help get him out of Morristown. Jim soon learns that his legendary breakdown in the broadcaster’s booth and his subsequent breakdown in a post-game press conference were among the first viral videos on the internet. He doesn’t quite appreciate being famous for the worst moments of his life, but he comes to accept it.
Now, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this series, to be perfectly honest. Making a funny comedy sketch is a different animal than turning that sketch into an actual television series. I was curious to see if Azaria and company could turn that concept into an engaging and enjoyable 22 minute episodes. I am pleased to say that I very much enjoyed this inaugural season of Brockmire. Whether it gets a second season and beyond remains to be seen, but I personally would be all for another inning. There are a few things that make this show enjoyable, which we will get into a little later, but the heart and soul of this show is undeniably Hank Azaria.
Azaria is just so damn great as this character. Everything from his voice to his facial expressions is just spot on. Jim Brockmire isn’t really what you would call a great person per se, but he also isn’t a terrible guy either. Azaria does a great job of riding that line between likable and unlikable. There are definitely moments during the season where he is an outright asshole, but he always shows enough redeemable potential to where you never really hate him. I always found myself rooting for him to do well and to be better. To the credit of the writers and Azaria himself, you really do see quantifiable change in his character throughout the short eight episode season. He is not the same person in the premiere as he is in the finale, which is the mark of solid character building. Much of his motivations remain the same, but he does show growth as a character. There are multiple things he has to deal with during the season that help this growth really stand out, from helping the team through an internal dispute to dealing with the return of his ex-wife. His humor is one thing that never changes however, and I wouldn’t want it to. Azaria plays that self-deprecating and depressive character so well, and it never failed to elicit a good healthy laugh from me.
Amanda Peet and Tyrel Jackson Williams were the other standouts for me. Both actors played their character well, even if they didn’t really go through as much evolution through the episodes. Peet’s character, Julia, is a lifelong fan of this team that she has purchased. She states in the pilot that she sold her house and took a second mortgage out on the bar she owns in order to buy the team, so she has a lot riding on the success of this team. I always bought her character’s love for this team and her determination to make them successful. She also proves to be just as damaged as Jim in some ways, making her character more interesting. There are a couple plot lines throughout the season that really focus on her, and for the most part they paid off. I would have liked to have seen a little more evolution to her character, but she was still a solid side character.
Tyrel Jackson Williams, who plays Charles, honestly had some of the funnier moments
throughout the season. His astounding lack of baseball knowledge was a great source of
comedy in the scenes between him and Azaria’s character. The fact that they worked together in the broadcast booth provided ample opportunity for comedic moments. Pretty much everything about him made his character the perfect antithesis for Jim. Like Julia, Charles didn’t really evolve too much as a character throughout the season, but the couple moments he did have were enough. Hopefully this role will lead Williams to bigger things, because he has some true comedic talent that I believe could serve him well.
Another thing I really enjoyed about this show was its use of flashbacks. Usually at least once per episode, the show would flash back to a random time in Jim’s past, anywhere from three years ago to all the way back in his childhood. The flashbacks always tied directly into something that would happen in that episode, making the flashbacks themselves actually important, and not just a waste of time. They were never long or drawn out, most of the time only lasting a minute or two, but they gave enough information to be important to the plot.
If you are a sports fan you will recognize several guest-stars in this show, especially in one episode in particular. Joe Buck, Dan Patrick, Kenny Mayne, and Rich Eisen all have cameos at one point, and they are all names that most sports fans will recognize.
The season itself is rather short, consisting only of eight 22 minute episodes. I’m hoping if the show does well we might get a longer second season, because I would be all in for a longer second season of Brockmire. I love Hank Azaria as Jim Brockmire, the supporting cast does a good job at supporting him, and the dark humor is right up my alley. This was a highly entertaining initial season, combining laugh out loud moments with actual instances of self-reflection and character growth for Jim. I highly recommend this show to anyone who enjoyed the initial Funny or Die sketches where the character was born, or to people who enjoy somewhat darker humor.
I give Brockmire Season 1 a B+.