Eastbound & Down

April 7, 2009

eastbound_and_down_bbqAs Bill Shakespeare once said, “Heavy lies the head that wears the crown.” As recently as 2006, HBO was in the drivers seat: “The Sopranos” was still going strong, “The Wire” (aka G.S.O.A.T., the Greatest Show of All Time) was killing it and Vinny Chase was still relatively tolerable. Fast forward three years—Tony Soprano got wacked, “The Wire” is history, “Entourage” is only worth watching for the occasional boob and the potential savior, “Flight of the Concords” has taken a significant nose dive in its sophomore season. Furthermore, pitiful attempts at signature series like “John From Cincinnati” and “True Blood” were the equivalent of audio-visual vomit.

Kind of funny that it took a bigoted, vulgar, overweight redneck to make the channel interesting again. “Eastbound & Down” is/was one of the most original shows on television and represented a pretty big risk for HBO. There are no immediately bankable stars (Will Ferrell is an E.P. and makes a couple of cameos), the language is atrocious and the main character is utterly loathesome. Yet each episode of the 6-part miniseries has a dynamic story arch and is packed with instantly quotable dialogue. Kenny Powers is the epitome of an anti-hero, but as the season progresses, the viewer cannot help but feel sorry for the asshole and ultimately empathize and root for him. With his role as Powers, Danny McBride has proven himself a rising comedic talent and one to watch. I honestly hope that HBO doesn’t screw this one up by banking on the show’s increased popularity by dragging it on for a second season. It ended perfectly. But then again, I hope the network proves me wrong. Now that “Eastbound & Down” and NCAA basketball are over, what the hell am I to watch? Better warm up the Netflix…