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TV Review: 'Brockmire' is a diamond in the rough

April 4, 2017 Updated: April 4, 2017 at 10:34 am
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Hank Azaria and Amanda Peet

"Brockmire"

Cast: Hank Azaria ("The Simpsons," "Ray Donovan"), Amanda Peet ("Togetherness," "2012"), Tyrel Jackson Williams ("Lab Rats," "Failure to Launch"), Hemky Madera ("Queen of the South," "Weeds") Katie Finneran ("Bloodline," "The Michael J. Fox Show")

Airs: The season premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. on IFC

The premise: Jim Brockmire (Hank Azaria) is one of the most beloved sports announcers on TV. The voice of a major league baseball team for more than 20 years, he's an icon in his sport until he self-destructs with an embarrassing on-air meltdown. Forced from the job he loves, Brockmire leaves the country but returns 10 years later when the owner of a floundering minor league team, the Morristown Frackers, coaxes him back to the United States.

"Brockmire" originally appeared as a video short on the website Funny Or Die. The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper ("Undateable") and directed by Tim Kirby ("Veep").

Highs: Jim Brockmire is a wild and interesting character. He's charismatic, a great storyteller and full of one- liners. Brockmire can tell a homespun yarn like famous Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Caray and sounds a lot like Dodgers legend Vin Scully. With quips such as, "Like a newly divorced dad's dinner, Clark is frozen. Strike three looking," Brockmire has the cadence, style and voice of an old school announcer. Unfortunately for him, he lets his demons get the best of him.

An inability to get over his ex-wife's adultery, his dependence on alcohol and a penchant for public self- destruction force Brockmire into exile. What he doesn't realize is that the internet age has made him a viral celebrity while he was away. Jules (Amanda Peet), the team owner who wants to revitalize her struggling town, sees Brockmire's return to baseball as a win for them both. Peet is enjoyable as the determined, wine-chugging owner who inspires her new PA announcer/internet sensation. It's one of her strongest roles to date. There are a few other notable side characters, but Brockmire is always the star of the show.

Azaria dives into his role with relish. A complex figure, Brockmire is funny, dark, pathetic and endearing, with these characteristics often within moments of each other. This is a man whose greatest fear is that he'll only be remembered for the worst moments of his life. Yet he keeps on putting one foot in front of the other, usually while saying something ridiculous during a third-person introspective monologue or off-handedly calling hipsters "bespectacled and ironically dressed people." Brockmire is a lovable loser, but one with a lot of depth.

Lows: Plenty of cursing, drug use, alcohol abuse and sexual situations make this a show for adults only. For the most part I didn't have any issues with the content in "Brockmire," but there were a couple of instances where even I thought the show pushed boundaries a bit too far. If you're easily offended, this series isn't for you.

Aside from Peet and Azaria, there really aren't many other interesting characters. A teenage intern named Charles (Tyrel Jackson Williams) feels out of place with all the adult content, and a secondary storyline with an evil oil company doesn't pay off. Even more disappointing is that interactions with the players for the Morristown Frackers falls flat. It's a missed opportunity.

Grade: B-. "Knowledge and assumptions are like Loggins and Messina. They seem similar, but time proves one of them to be completely worthless," is my favorite Brockmire retort. Random lines like this are what make him so entertaining. This series has issues, but much like its titular character, if you can look past them you'll find "Brockmire" a true diamond in the rough.

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Gazette media columnist Terry Terrones is a member of the Television Critics Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @terryterrones.

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