A review of tonight’s Brockmire just as soon as I cry at Joe Buck’s rendition of “Papa Can You Hear Me?”…
There are a couple of potential dangers to Brockmire doing an episode where Jim pals around with real-life sportscasters and baseball analysts. The first is the risk that Brockmire comes across as fake and insubstantial next to the genuine article. The second is that the TV personalities are out of their depth doing comedy alongside Hank Azaria and Amanda Peet.
Fortunately, “Old-Timer’s Day” avoided both landmines. Azaria is so authentic that I bet he could probably call actual ballgames in character at this point. (Even if he kept the sex talk out of it, it’d still be a livelier broadcast than a lot involving the TV faces of MLB.) And the script in turn didn’t ask too much of any of the guests other than Joe Buck, who always seems happier and more relaxed when he’s playing a fictionalized version himself than when he’s doing play-by-play. Jonah Keri, Brian Kenny, and the others got to provide some authenticity to the Mack and McGraw festivities, but they were never asked to go joke-to-joke with the professionals.
The story also provided another spin on Brockmire’s return to fame. Once, he was the equal of these men (other than Keri, who was writing about the stock market and doing some freelancing for ESPN 10 years ago, around the time Brockmire had his breakdown), if not held in higher professional esteem. Now, he’s a cautionary tale and a sideshow: Everybody’s happy to hear him tell stories about the good old days, but what they really want is for him to lose it and do something like… well, like what he does to Brent Musberger in the episode’s closing moments. The script and Azaria are very keenly aware of how Jim feels to be in this new position with his old colleagues, and how badly he wants to disappoint those particular expectations — the story reminds me, in a way, of The Sopranos episode where Tony golfs with Dr. Cusamano’s buddies, and they all just want him to perform for them as their own pet Mafia expert — but knowing what he now knows about the role Musberger played in torpedoing his shot at a national TV job, can you blame the guy for wanting to give him a mustache?
Lots of fun there, and when you add in the mixture of dismay and pleasure that Tyrel Jackson Williams plays as Charles realizes what’s happening on the field while he’s otherwise occupied in the broadcast booth? Well, you’ve got one humdinger of a penultimate episode. Can’t wait to talk about the finale with y’all.
What did everybody else think?