HBO // 2012 // 240 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // December 10th, 2012
I'm back. You're welcome.
Kenny Powers is not a role model. He's not even a good bad example, because he's actually capable, however rarely, of saying or doing the right thing, meaning we can't write him off entirely. Eastbound & Down has provided plenty of opportunities for Kenny to screw up during its first two seasons. It was time to switch things up and give Kenny a chance to succeed, and in that Eastbound & Down: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray) delivers. Kenny has a new team, new responsibilities, and a lot of old friends showing up in these eight episodes. Fans of the two previous seasons will enjoy the direction the show has taken, and even new fans can jump in with the first episode of this set.
The second season of Eastbound & Down ended with Kenny learning he was to be a father while he was playing ball for a Mexican team. Now it's over a year later, and Kenny is back in the United States, playing in South Carolina for the Myrtle Beach Mermen. When April comes to Myrtle Beach in the season's first episode, she disappears, leaving Kenny with his one-year-old son to raise. In addition to his new fatherly duties, Kenny has to mentor an up-and-coming Russian pitcher and sort out his family life.
When we first met Kenny Powers, he was so boneheaded and arrogant, we wanted to see him fail. He lived his life like it was a movie and he was the star. Most of the show's humor came out of showing us both sides of that tension. One second, we were watching Kenny curse to a rock 'n' roll soundtrack, and the next we'd pull back to see he was doing it in front of a kindergarten class. The first two seasons had pretty low stakes, ultimately. Yes, Kenny blazed a path through friends and family, burning relationships along the way. However, being a poor gym teacher or washed-up Mexican baseball player isn't going to change anyone's life.
Wisely, the team behind Eastbound & Down realized they needed to up the ante on Kenny Powers, and the only way to make his character better (or funnier) was to put him in a position where he couldn't fail, where his only option is to rise to the occasion. Giving him the responsibilities of fatherhood is the perfect decision. It means we get to see him screw it up, at least initially, but slowly figure out what he's doing. Based on the first few episodes, I never would have thought there'd be any pleasure in seeing Kenny Powers do something right, but this season changed my mind.
The show also builds on its strengths by having a number of characters return. Don Johnson appears again as Kenny's father (and his mother is played by Lily Tomlin), and Will Ferrell fans will be happy to see he's back as car salesman Ashley Schaeffer. Of course, Craig Robinson continues to bring his brand of magic to the show, and Steve Little as Stevie Janowski is featured extensively in this season.
This Blu-ray set also continues the show's commitment to solid home video releases. The set's 1.78:1/1080p AVC-encoded transfers are generally solid. This is a generally bright show (despite its dark subject matter), and detail and color saturation are spot on. Black levels are consistent, and no serious digital artefacts crop up. The DTS-HD 5.1 surround track is on par with previous seasons as well. The balance between dialogue and soundtrack is perfect, directionality is used sparingly but well (as befits a comedy) and dialogue is always clean and clear.
Extras kick off with an "exclusive" deleted scene, along with a host of outtakes and nonexclusive deleted scenes for various episodes. Perhaps most significantly, all eight episodes get audio commentaries. The main team is McBride and Hill, and they're joined by a rotating cast of guests. It's like watching the show with a rowdy group as they crack jokes, laugh at their own writing, and tell stories about making this season.
Eastbound & Down is still not a show for the faint of heart. Kenny Powers is still mostly a jerk, and he certainly still curses up a storm. Those who were turned off by his antics in previous seasons will find little to enjoy, even if this season is slightly more redemptive for the colossal screw-up.
Eastbound & Down still has legs, and this third season of the show finds the creators will to change things up a little bit, giving us a Kenny Powers who can learn, however little, from his mistakes. This season also continues the show's run of excellent Blu-ray releases, showcasing excellent audiovisual presentation and some fun extras.
Luckily, Kenny Powers is back, and we are welcome. This set is not guilty.
Review content copyright © 2012 Gordon Sullivan; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (French)
* DTS 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 240 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes