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Eastbound & Down: The Complete Second Season(TV) (2010)
Kenny Powers, an arrogant, burned-out, former major-league pitcher takes up residence in a small Mexican town; there, joined by his lackey Stevie Janowski and a new love interest, Vida, he fashions a comeback scenario that involves a local baseball team, the Charros, and its filthy-rich owner, Sebastian Cisneros.
For more about Eastbound & Down: The Complete Second Season and the Eastbound & Down: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray release, see Eastbound & Down: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on August 9, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Danny McBride, Steve Little, Katy Mixon, John Hawkes, Will Ferrell, Craig Robinson
» See full cast & crew
Eastbound & Down: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review
"I kinda consider myself more like a retired gunfighter."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, August 9, 2011
If all else fails, mix it up. Or, as any savvy TV showrunner worth his broadcast salt will tell you: if all else succeeds, mix it up anyway. And that's precisely what Eastbound and Down's shrewd troublemakers did when it came time to shoot the series' second season. Instead of settling for more small town hilarity, or even giving Danny McBride's do-or-die schlub a second shot at Major League glory, McBride and co-creators Jody Hill and Ben Best threw caution to the wind, tossed their scorned baseballer south of the border, and hurled Eastbound and Down in an entirely different direction. Don't misunderstand: the series still isn't for everyone. It wasn't when its first season debuted on HBO in 2009, it wasn't when its second season aired in 2010, and it won't be whenever its third and final season arrives in the near future. Suffice it to say, if you couldn't stand Kenny Powers before, his move to Mexico isn't going to change anything; if you merely grinned and yawned through the series' initial six episodes, you'll spend the next seven doing much the same thing. But Season One fanatics -- the small but steadfast legion of Kenny Powers faithfuls who would follow McBride to Hell and back -- will eat up every spicy second and find the show's second season to be a slightly sharper, arguably funnier outing than its first.
After inching oh-so-close to Major League redemption at the end of the series' first season, former MLB pitcher Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) hops the border to Mexico, leaves his mangled reputation behind him, and tries his hand at -- what else? -- cockfighting. But destiny isn't interested in letting Powers slip through its fingers so easily. Kenny quickly catches the attention of two men: Roger Hernandez (Marco Rodríguez), the manager of a baseball team called the Charros, and Sebastian Cisneroes (Michael Peńa), the team's owner. Baseball isn't done with Powers, it seems, and Baseball always gets its way.
The Mexican populous, though, is as immune to Kenny's "charisma" as the American public, and he finds it difficult to generate much excitement. Cue a desperate campaign to win affection, an effort to track down his father (Don Johnson) and several attempts to woo a local named Vida (Ana de la Reguera). He even learns a little about himself with the help of his old friend Stevie Janowski (Steve Little) and a feisty new cockfighting frenemy-in-arms (Deep Roy). Will Kenny ever make a comeback? Will a stay in Mexico prove to be his saving grace? Can he forge a relationship with his dear ol' dad? Will his jaunt in Mexico bring him new love or somehow help him to win back his old flame, April (Katy Mixon)? Or will he drink, smoke and gamble his life away yet again?
Like Season One, Season Two is a bit too hit-or-miss for my tastes. I'd laugh like a madman one second and raise a skeptical eyebrow the next. Eastbound and Down isn't a fluid comedy by any means, and it telegraphs its punches as often as it fails to land its strongest blows. And the problem isn't just the writing, which tends to overreach and overplay its hands. Almost every scene feels acutely self-aware; as if each line, reaction and misadventure is conscious of its punchline points and laugh potential. Harsh as that may sound, Hill, Best and McBride's style isn't subtle at all. It's loud, crass and heavy-handed, and doesn't exhibit much in the way of finesse or intricacy. If a scrap of dialogue isn't funny, the trio toss in a few F-bombs, a cockfighting pun or some other random bit of R-rated hilarity and pray it does their job for them. And, to some degree, it pays off.
But there's only so many times a comedy team can shoot fire out of its sleeves before an audience begins to realize it's being subjected to the same cheap magic trick again and again and again. Johnson is underused but makes the most of his screentime, Rodriguez and Peńa play it (fairly) straight but set up some of McBride's best lines of the season, and Deep Roy is nothing short of hilarious. Reguera is wasted, as is Eddie Diaz (as Powers' dim-witted half-brother), but again, it gives McBride plenty to swing at and, as much as the supporting cast sizzles, it's still his show to win or lose. To be fair, I'm coming off a marathon -- two seasons and thirteen episodes in a row -- so I'm sure there's something to be said for the luxury of spacing things out over the course of several weeks. But repetition and redundancy exist whether a smitten viewer notices it or not, meaning your personal enjoyment of Eastbound and Down will come down to how smitten you are with the series' dime-bag of tricks. Still, Season Two is better than Season One, and fans of McBride's low-ball sliders won't be disappointed.
Eastbound & Down: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
HBO's 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer isn't very pretty, but neither is Eastbound and Down. Overcooked contrast, overheated skintones, overripe primaries and overwhelming black levels sometimes bring the presentation to a boil, and then some. Most scenes handle it all in stride, with vivid colors, rich shadows, excellent fine detail, crisp textures and the patented glow of a nicely saturated image. Other scenes, while in the minority, are benched by noticeable crush, moderate ringing, pudgy definition and floundering fine detail. Thankfully, the good outweighs the bad, most of the eyesores seem to stem from the series' source, and the whole of the transfer appears to be a fairly faithful one. Artifacting, banding, aberrant noise and other issues are kept to an absolute minimum, and the series' grit and grain have been perfectly preserved. No, Eastbound and Down isn't going to impress newcomers on its visuals alone, but its presentation will no doubt satisfy series regulars.
Eastbound & Down: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
HBO's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track offers a fuller, more rewarding experience than I anticipated. Rear speaker activity is quite aggressive, particularly in regards to environmental ambience, and the rowdy cockfight crowds, rushing rivers, chattering insects and busy city streets of Mexico make their presence known in the soundfield. (It comes on a bit too strong at times, but the immersion it provides is most welcome.) Dialogue is clean, clear and well-centered, effects are bright and engaging, and directionality is up to snuff. Low-end output is also remarkable, and there are plenty of haggard car engines, backfires, slamming prison doors and bass-pounding music to spice things up. (There's even an explosion or two for good measure, one to the dismay of a curse-spewing Deep Roy.) Granted, some interior scenes are notably front-heavy, a few pans limp past, and the LFE channel isn't always up to snuff, but such distractions are few and far between. All in all, The Complete Second Season sounds better than it looks, making its lossless track the most valuable player of the package.
Eastbound & Down: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Eastbound and Down: The Complete Second Season snags a 2-disc Blu-ray release complete with the same special features as the standard DVD: five audio commentaries, a pair of featurettes, deleted scenes and outtakes. To top it all off, the extras are presented in high definition.
Eastbound & Down: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Eastbound and Down's second season is a step up from its first, but it's comedy still has limited appeal. No matter, though. If you can't get enough McBride, love his turn as an MLB pariah and drank in every second of the series' first six episodes, The Complete Second Season is for you. Is its Blu-ray release a grand slam? (Puns!) Not quite, but it comes close. Its video transfer is flawed but fairly faithful, its DTS-HD Master Audio track is far more involving than I expected, and its supplemental package -- five commentaries strong -- adds just enough value to the mix to tip fence-sitters off their perch.
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