‘Brockmire’ is a hidden character-driven gem

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It’s hard to make television and perhaps even harder to find a good show when it someone does make it. There are seemingly endless streaming services along with the hundreds of channels through the more traditional medium of cable or satellite. With all of those options, it is inevitable that some quality content will go overlooked and that is exactly the case with IFC’s “Brockmire.”

The series will see season two come to an end later this month but with IFC recently announcing it was scheduled for a third and fourth season, it is far from over. The series centers around Jim Brockmire, played by Hank Azaria, an alcoholic and sleazy baseball broadcaster trying to make his way back to the MLB. Brockmire’s career took a dive after he goes on a profanity-laced tirade on the air when he found his wife cheating on him.

Cue to a decade after that tirade and he finds himself in Morristown, a small town in the Rust Belt, to broadcast for their minor league team. He befriends team owner Jules James, played by Amanda Peet, who pairs him with Charles, the teenager in charge of their digital media. Charles is a teenager who, like Brockmire almost as soon as he arrives, is desperate to get out of Morristown but still doesn’t care much for baseball.

The team is filled with unique characters including former major leaguers, a washed-up Japanese pitcher and just general miscreants. Normally, a brash, alcoholic main character isn’t a good recipe for success but the writers create something different with Brockmire. His character isn’t so much meant to be taken as a real-life baseball announcer but rather an over-the-top caricature of one with a lot of alcohol thrown into the mix.

As season one progresses, Brockmire’s past is more fleshed out and as a result, he becomes more sympathetic to the audience despite his antics. It’s the difficult balance of humanizing someone that many would find unlikeable but because the viewer is able to understand him, it becomes almost charming. Brockmire’s drinking leads to him being in charge of a ballpark drinking game with him and the fans in the middle of a game, antagonizing the Morristown Frackers into a brawl with their rivals and other ridiculous situations.

The key piece that makes “Brockmire” work is Hank Azaria. Without his performance, the series would fall flat. Azaria came up with the character almost a decade ago and it was so successful, the show was born and traditionally, that is a gutsy choice. He pays it off though because he portrays a character who is fun and most of the time the smartest man in the room but carries it all with the pain of losing his wife to sexual deviancy among a host of other personal problems.

Azaria’s ability to portray that pain to the audience but do so in a manner that doesn’t make it sad but rather funny is nothing short of amazing. The story is over the top and at times ridiculous but that just lends to the show’s comedic purposes. Brockmire is a character who lives the life of a degenerate in a functional world and it is comedy gold.

It’s difficult to review their second season without spoiling much of the first one but needless to say “Brockmire” still succeeds in a different environment. It’s proof that the show is carried by Brockmire, Charles and Jules more than the situation around them and when a comedy achieves that, its likelihood for long-term success is high.

“Brockmire” has largely gone unnoticed or not talked about for multiple reasons but it’s a gem that is worth discovering. Season one can be found on Hulu with the second one expected there after its finale as well and every episode is a memorable half hour spent with ridiculously fun characters and even some cameos from legends like Joe Buck and Tim Kurkjian to legitimize it even more.

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