Originally posted Thursday, March 19, 2020 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Since this coronavirus pandemic has broken out big time and my schedule has been rewritten by kids being out of school, my ability to keep track of non-virus related stories has seriously degraded.
I honestly meant to write a preview about the final season of the hilariously overlooked IFC series “Brockmire,” shot the past four years in Georgia. In fact, I had a bit of it written before what I call Coronavirus Inflection Day of March 11, when the NBA shut down. Then I forgot about it.
The show returned last night and I only now realized I never finished it. (My colleague Melissa Ruggieri reminded me.)
So here it is, modified to reflect the current state of the world:
Joel Church-Cooper, creator of IFC’s “Brockmire,” decided for to move the final fourth season (which debuted March 18 at 10 p.m.) 10 years ahead into a dystopian future where food shortages, climate change and pandemics are the norm.
It’s still a comedy, just a more prescient one courtesy of the coronavirus.
The show, which is also available on Hulu, focuses on Hank Azaria’s Jim Brockmire, a gabby plaid-wearing sportscaster who went kablooey on a live broadcast and became an instant pariah, moved to the Philippines, then reappeared in the United States attempting to get back into baseball, his one true love.
Over the seasons, the show jumped all over the place, from small-town Pennsylvania, New Orleans, Kansas City and Florida, all largely replicated around the state of Georgia. It has taken Brockmire from a crap minor-league broadcasting gig to the depths of a drunken/drugged out gutter to genuine sobriety and a real earned comeback.
Season four takes place at a point where baseball is dying and desperate owners name Brockmire the commissioner as a last-ditch effort to save the sport. He has become an unlikely multi-generational icon.
Brockmire also learns he has a daughter (Reina Hardesty) from a Filipino woman and he raises her in a way that is endearing and almost suffocatingly fatherly.
Things only get weirder with each episode but it’s fair to say Cooper brings back two key figures from season one in a passably organic way: Brockmire’s former baseball-hating assistant Charles (Tyrel Jackson Williams) and his former love Jules (Amanda Peet).
Charles is now a tech tycoon who still hates baseball but helps out Brockmire because he can’t help himself.
Brockmire also convinces Jules to come back to baseball to help him revive the sport because, come on, they’re made for each other!
Before season four, I talked to executive producer and series director Mo Marable and Williams. Here are a few nuggets from those interviews in preview mode. I also garnered some comments that I will post after the series finale in seven weeks.
Williams: “I was was more involved than season three and I was excited to play someone 10 years older. The progression for me makes sense. I was a podcast leader season two, a tech millionaire by season three and now a billionaire.”
He also enjoyed how his initial relationship with Brockmire also evolved. Charles first took the job with the minor league baseball team merely as an escape from home. Then he became Brockmire’s caretaker of sorts season two.
“These are two people who genuinely care about each other,” he said. “They have a strong mutual respect even though they don’t understand what the other one does.”
Williams is also flabbergasted by Azaria, who memorizes his entire season of dialogue before stepping on the set, a way to save time for a low-budget operation.
“He is one of the greatest actors I’ve ever worked with,” Williams said. “He’s incredible. Brockmire tells long-winded overly complicated stories that ultimately mean nothing. The fact Hank can tell them so well is inspiring and a little bit terrifying.”
Azaria, he added, also “manages to be grounded and subtle and emotionally powerful and genuinely lovable through everything.”
Marable said Azaria took “Brockmire” on as a pure passion project.
“Hank brings honesty and a passion and obviously comedy,” she said. “He’s such a lover of baseball. This is a trifecta for him. He’s sober in real life. This character touches upon a certain journey for himself. He shows up 100 percent in. We all follow his lead. He brings out the satire, makes us all realize how dumb we’re being at times. He represents some of the dumb stuff we do while pointing out the things we should be doing right. He’s masterful at that.”
She loves the evolution of Brockmire, who clearly didn’t care about much of anybody season one. By season two, “we realize he cares about Charles. In season 3, he becomes a father figure for real.”
She said children do change people and Brockmire takes that step season four. “With his daughter, Brockmire goes from one addiction to another. His daughter becomes his addiction. It’s a much healthier addiction than drugs or alcohol. But he is now this doting father. He’s 100 percent in.”
“Brockmire,” 10 p.m. Wednesdays, IFC and on Hulu
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