New Pitch TV show is winning…But you may have to hustle to catch it!
It took the added promotional oomph of the World Series to get me to finally get around to binge watching Fox’s new baseball centric series, the Pitch TV show. Kylie Bunbury star’s as Ginny Baker, the first female to play in Major League Baseball. Specifically, the premise is that she’s called up after five years in the minors to be a starting pitcher for the San Diego Padres.
Based on my recent crash course viewing experience (Hey, I’m a sports uniform guy, not some knucklehead TV reviewer), I can honestly report that I enjoy the show. And that’s saying a lot. (I’m grumpy).
So I’m sorry to find out that the show, irrespective of FS1’s massive World Series cross promotions, ain’t exactly hitting it out of the ball park when it comes to ratings. In fact, by the time you read this, it may already be cancelled. And that would suck. (Feel free to blame the millennials, presidential debates, etc., etc.)
I’ll get into the sports uniform stuff –I couldn’t help myself—but what’s more important is that it’s a really high quality show. The writing is excellent. The cast, especially the aforementioned Ms. Bunbury, are fantastic. Dan Lauria as the crotchety manager is a classic. And the storylines are strong.
To be sure, scripted sports, in movies and TV, baseball in particular, have a pretty checkered track record. The high watermark of The Natural and over-the-top delirium of Major League are rarely challenged by the decidedly mediocre masses of films and series. “Pitch” doesn’t aspire to those heights (or hilarious depths), but it does succeed on its own terms. (The World Series not withstanding)
Grip the Pitch
It’s a compelling hour long drama, with comic touches and interesting characters who avoid the usual “athletes are morons” stereotype that Hollywood all-too-often resorts to as serio/comic shorthand. (Truth be told, when I sat down to watch the first episode – the pilot- I mistakenly thought it was going to be a ½ hour sitcom. Uhhh…it ain’t. Not at all.)
When Ginny is given player number 43 “one up from Jackie”(Robinson) I figured right quick that the producers weren’t warming up the laugh track, but rather, had deeper intentions in mind. And they play out for the better, with spot-on, nuanced performances and believable twists in the action.
For example, Ginny’s fastball is in the high 80’s, which is stated to be a little low, but her father (before his untimely death) taught her a killer screwball. A stretch? Maybe. But plausible. What happens to him next threw me for a big loop. But it was very organic.
Throw Your Hardest
As to the baseball playing --when shown-- it’s a pretty respectable offering. MLB has approved the show and that helps in a lot ways (i.e., real team names, logos, etc.) For fans of Petco Park, the show is like a French romantic film wherein the stadium is never shown in anything less than sumptuous lighting.
I was wondering how the series was gonna handle branded apparel & equipment. The good news is that it, like most everything else, reads true to form. The first brand I caught gave me a momentary panic: A NIKE glove prominently featured, while Ginny wears NIKE performance wear. Swoosh, Swoosh! So, I thought the “fix” was in; that the behemoth from Beaverton had swooped in and falsely mandated that all things be NIKE. But thankfully that is not the case on the Pitch TV show. All unis are Majestic-made, just like in MLB. And Under Armour, Wilson, et al are represented in a fashion that closely resembles any game I watch. Rawlings balls are used; in fact, they’re highlighted in a close-up (‘member Ginny’s killer screwball? Slow-Mo City!).
Quick Hop or Flop?
Point being, as the sports uniform guy, there’s nothing to complain about with “Pitch”. It plays out as true to life as you can possible do on network television. And, believe me, I tried to find fault. (Ok, the batting jackets used during the All-Star game episode were pretty putrid.)
Is “Pitch” amazing? No. Is it better than your average hour long dramedy? Yeah, I guess. And it’s got lotsa baseball stuff. That’s gotta make you give it the benefit of the doubt, right?
I hate to say it, but it seems that, just 5 episodes in, according to the showbiz trades, the folks at Fox may be getting ready to bow down to that master known as the ratings game. And, sadly, “Pitch” may strike out.