Judge Gordon Sullivan ripped his pants during the 7th inning stretch.
Our reviews of Eastbound And Down: The Complete First Season (published June 30th, 2009), Eastbound and Down: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray) (published August 10th, 2011), Eastbound And Down: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray) (published August 2nd, 2011), and Eastbound and Down: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray) (published December 10th, 2012) are also available.
You don't retire from being awesome.
One of the great joys of Eastbound & Down has been watching where it's going. For example, when the Season Two found anti-hero Kenny Powers in Mexico, it seemed both surprising and inevitable. The other joy has been seeing how far Kenny Powers is willing to go. Much of the series has put Kenny in ridiculous situations so he can act even more ridiculously. But that's now come to an end. With Eastbound & Down: The Complete Fourth Season, Kenny goes out with a bang by being given everything he thought he wanted. It's a recipe for one last hurrah from everyone's famous fastballer. The results will please long time fans, even if it won't win any new ones.
Facts of the Case
When last we left Kenny Powers (Danny McBride, This is The End), he was taking on the responsibilities of fatherhood, making a minor-league comeback, and faking his own death. Now it's a few years later, and he's the father of two children living with the love of his life, April (Katy Mixon, Take Shelter). Everything seems to be going smoothly for him in the suburbs, but when an old friend comes to visit Kenny once again feels the need to get back in the game as a celebrity sports commentator.
It's hard to believe we've only spent 29 episodes with Kenny Powers, and at 30 minutes an episode, that's less than 15 hours. Into that time, Jody Hill, Ben Best, and Danny McBride have stuffed us full of triumphs, tragedies, and more outrageous behavior than a Jackass marathon. Along the way, they gave us one of television's most fascinating characters. Somehow, between the writing and McBride's fearless performance, Kenny is one of the most offensive and sympathetic characters in recent memory. If he's not sympathetic, he's at least fascinating, always worth watching. The show has been like a magic trick, but instead of sawing someone in half or making something disappear, the folks behind Eastbound & Down have somehow convinced audiences to go along with this unrepentant jerk for four seasons. I for one can't figure out how they did it, though I have my suspicions.
Part of the show's success comes down to its integrity. This is not a premise that could go on indefinitely without compromising Kenny's character and the world around him. We don't need to see Kenny run for office, try to become a cop, or some other ridiculous nonsense. The show is about Kenny, his love for April and baseball, and how those two create tension in his life. That's especially true of Season Four, which doubles-down on Kenny's commitment to baseball, at the expense of his life with April. There's also a certain symmetry to ending the show with Kenny's aspirations to wealth, since this is where the show started.
The other reason Eastbound & Down works is everyone's commitment to it, especially the actors. Danny McBride is not afraid to take Kenny as dark and terrible as he needs to, while still being quick to crack a joke. Katy Mixon does an amazing job of making us like, Kenny because she finds something in him. Steve Little (Adventure Time) may be the sycophantic sidekick, but he brings a humanity to Stevie that lets us see why he worships Kenny. The show also commits to its premise, asking what would happen to Kenny and company in various situations, while not being afraid to find some difficult answers. This season, that means giving Kenny one thing he says he wants (April), and then dangling the other thing he thinks he wants (wealth/celebrity/excitement) right in front of him to see what happens.
HBO continues its commitment to solid Blu-ray releases. This time out, the eight episodes are spread across two discs. The 1.78:1/1080p AVC-encoded transfers offer strong detail throughout, with lots of depth and dimensionality. Colors are well-saturated, and black levels stay consistent and deep. The visuals are matched with a great DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track that really showcases the use of music while keeping dialogue clean and clear.
Once again we get some great extras. Each of the season's eight episodes feature a commentary by the cast and crew which are both funny and informative. We also get a recap of Season Three, to remind viewers of Kenny's brand of crazy. There are also 23 minutes of deleted scenes and 11 minutes of bloopers, both of which feature a lot of laughs. Finally, fans also get UltraViolet and iTunes digital copies. It's a strong package that combines humor and information for fans of the show.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Of course Eastbound & Down is still about a jerk making many peoples' lives difficult, and if you didn't enjoy the first three seasons there's nothing here to persuade you otherwise. Longtime fans might detect a loss of luster, but things are kept fresh by giving Kenny aspirations to sports commentary. Though I'm sure some fans may disagree, I can't help but believe ending the show here was a smart move.
Though not the best of the series, Eastbound & Down makes the respectable decision of leaving viewers wanting more, closing out with a story that's true to the character.
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