If you haven’t heard of or seen Danny McBride by now, then you just haven’t turned on your TV lately. While he has littered himself in supporting roles throughout the years (most famously as the guy who blows everything up in Tropic Thunder), it’s only recently that he’s truly come into the spotlight. Pineapple Express billed him alongside Seth Rogen and James Franco and McBride had a fairly large role in Hot Rod. But once Adam McKay and Will Ferrell got together to make a new show for HBO, they looked at McBride and knew he was the perfect choice for Eastbound and Down. Foul mouthed, angry, and fitting the part like a glove, McBride made the reckless Kenny Powers into pure entertainment for six straight episodes of ridiculousness.
In this hilarious new HBO comedy series from Executive Producers including Will Ferrell, Kenny Powers, a washed-up former Major League Baseball star, is forced to return to his hometown to teach P.E. at his old middle school. While preparing for his triumphant return to the big leagues, Kenny moves in with his brother’s family and proves adept at burning every bridge he crosses.
The series was heavily advertised in magazines and basic cable when it first started to air, but once the series hit its third episode you didn’t hear much of it again unless you kept up with it as it aired on HBO. Thankfully I did, although to this day I don’t really know how to describe this series. It’s almost just too brutally offensive to lump into any one category, as there are so many “wow that’s so offensive, I don’t know if I can laugh at it” moments in the series that it’s hard to pigeonhole into any one corner. Dark comedy, maybe, but even then it’s not so much dark as…relentlessly and bitingly sarcastic.
McBride excels at this type of humor, however, as evidenced by his The Foot Fist Way film from years back. That film has a similar vibe as Eastbound and Down, although Eastbound has humor that’s a little less specialized…but it is nonetheless brutal in its execution. I was continually surprised by how ridiculous this show got each week, and while I was necessarily laughing my head off at every moment, I did still enjoy it enough to keep watching.
And that’s kind of the vibe the series gives throughout the entire season. It’s not slapstick funny and it’s often incredibly subtle in its humor, with its wicked and dark sense of sarcasm at times, making it just a much more understated comedy at times. It’s certainly unique, but one that is an acquired taste; even if you love previous McKay/Ferrel outings…this…well, it was made for HBO, I’ll say that much.
Between the six episodes of the season (yeah that’s all it consisted of) they packed in a lot of story and also made for a nice little send off possible series finale, with things looking up for Powers…before crashing down into oblivion. In this way the series was very poetic at times in that it wasn’t just about the raunchiest jokes or showing the most nudity (although both are copious throughout the series), but it also had a bit of heart to it at times as well. Powers wasn’t selfish all the time and in fact cared about those around him enough to leave them alone and let them live better lives.
There’s definitely a uniqueness to Eastbound and Down…enough of a uniqueness that it comes Recommended. It’s an acquired taste, but it’s still a solid series nonetheless. Sadly there’s not much to say about it as the entire season barely lasts three hours, but between the cameos by Will Ferrel and the ridiculous dialogue that is used throughout the series, it’s just a fun series to watch.
As popular as it was, it wasn’t popular enough to warrant a Blu-ray release obviously…but, really, that’s fine. This isn’t a series that needs to be seen or heard in high-definition and the DVD presentation we’re given is more than adequate. The set arrives in a standard two-disc Amaray case (which really feels quite cheap…not sure what it is about it, but it just feels like it’s made out of incredibly cheap material). Included is a cardboard o-ring that slips over the front, while underneath is different art with Kenny Powers in all black (the reverse of the jacket is just the backside of him).
Menus are simple and easy to navigate. Video is a solid anamorphic widescreen release with DD5.1 audio that does the job required of it; the video’s not brilliant or oozing with detail, but it also doesn’t detract from the viewing experience in the least. Compression does crop up in the opening titles a bit when the image freezes and the titles and music comes up, but other than that this is a solid looking and sounding release.
Extras start off with three audio commentaries on episodes 1, 4, and 6. The participants range from producers, writers, directors, and actors and, as expected from the people responsible for this series, the commentaries are as much fun to listen to as the episodes themselves. There’s plenty of humor to be found in the tracks as well as information, so be sure to give these a listen if you’re a fan of the series.
First up on the featurettes area we have a brief Making Eastbound and Down (12:13), followed by videos actually used in the series Kenny Powers: Greatest Hits (2:39), Schaeffer Motors Commercial (1:22), and Schaeffer Motors Commercial 2 (1:26). These videos weren’t seen in their entirety in the series so now’s your chance to view them in their full length versions. Deleted Scenes (“Sweet sh*t we didn’t use”) (9:12) and Outtakes (“All the times someone f***ed up on the show”) (13:01) are next, followed by Stevie’s Dark Secret (7:32). I, for one, am glad the outtake reel is so long as I knew this must’ve been a hard series to act in with a straight face, so it was nice to see plenty of crack ups.
Between the two discs and…really, the surprising amount of bonus material, this set comes Highly Recommended. It’s cheap, filled with enough extras to keep you busy for an hour or two and best of all the series is just something that’s both offensive and heartwarming.
Eastbound and Down: Season 1 arrives on DVD on June 30th.