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MCN Review: 'Brockmire' Takes a Swing for the Fences

IFC’s new baseball-themed series Brockmire takes a big swing for the comedy fences.

The series stars Hank Azaria as Jim Brockmire, a throwback play-by-play baseball broadcaster calling balls and strikes while providing whimsical and history- laden baseball stories to listeners. But after coming home early one day and witnessing his wife Lucy (Katie Finneran) cheating on him, Brockmire suffers a drink-infused, profanity-laced meltdown on air during a live telecast, costing him his job and career.

Related: IFC's 'Brockmire' Trailer

After traveling the world for a decade providing commentary on virtually every sporting event imaginable, Brockmire is lured back to the states to call baseball games by Jules (Amanda Peet), owner of the Frackers, a fictional minor-league baseball team located in a small Rust Belt town. Brockmire is led to believe he will announce Frackers games for a local radio station, but nearly walks away from the gig after Jules reveals that his commentary would only be heard by two dozen or so in the decrepit ballpark.

Despite the setback, Brockmire — drawn by his love of the game and smitten by Jules — decides to try to recapture his life, reputation and legacy as a big-time sports announcer, in the uncomfortable but surprisingly charming confines of the minor leagues.

Related > Q&A With Hank Azaria: Turning a Sports Comedy Dream Into Reality [subscription required]

Azaria, who first debuted the Jim Brockmire character in a Funny or Die short Web series, is terrific as the unconventional, rough-around-the-edges announcer who is trying to adapt his nostalgic, 20th-century view of baseball and the world to today’s hipper, more fast-paced environment. Indeed, Brockmire — who doesn’t own a computer and doesn’t surf the Web — is unaware that his on-air breakdown and subsequent embarrassing post game press conference a decade ago has gone viral, and that his wife’s name has become synonymous with a nefarious sexual act.

It’s hard not to like Brockmire, and viewers will find themselves rooting for him to succeed. The dialogue is sharp and funny, although parents may want to keep their children away from the show’s heavy R-rated language and situations. Overall, Brockmire should be a major-league hit for IFC.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.