Truth be told, a lot of people were skeptical when HBO announced a second season of Eastbound & Down. The first season was almost perfect and it wrapped up very well. Many wondered where they would take the loveable Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) and how his story would continue. Well, as it turns out, everyone’s favorite washed up baseball star headed in an entirely new direction for his second outing.
When we open up on Mr. Powers, he’s in Mexico where he has seemingly thrown away his old life. He’s using an alias and engaging in cockfights. Stevie (Steve Little) is still around and Kenny is secretly planning a comeback. He joins a Mexican baseball team but he continues to battle his inner demons and bad attitude, which may be the one thing standing between him and a shot at redemption.
The crude, politically incorrect and offensive comedy returns and McBride once again is at the top of his game in the lead role of Kenny Powers. This is a vulgar and often obscene show but those two elements also make it down right hilarious.
McBride’s Kenny Powers is one of the funniest TV characters in years and despite his exterior, he does have a heart and soul that makes you sympathize for his situation. It’s the perfect role for the up and coming actor and in season two he once again nails the part. His brilliant one liners are delivered perfectly and he is able to bring a sense of pathos to the character.
Mexico is full of stereotypes, both offensive and funny. It’s an interesting setting and is a vast change from we saw in season one. It’s darker and far more dangerous than Kenny’s previous hometown, Shelby, North Carolina. In some ways, it actually feels like the perfect setting for the show. Some of the situations Kenny finds himself in are very well staged. Mexico has given the writers more to explore and more to experiment with and it really does make for some absolutely side splitting moments.
Despite the sharp turn that we take in season two, Eastbound & Down is just as funny and entertaining as it was in the first season. There’s a new love interest Vida (Ana de la Reguera), a meeting with Kenny’s estranged father (Don Johnson) and some nice guest spots from actors like Michael Pena, Matthew McConaughey, Adam Scott etc.
Is it as good as season one? Probably. The second season definitely sets a different tone and it was certainly a gamble. You have to respect them for making bold moves, like changing the setting and most of the characters. It’s something that not many shows can do. Most shows resent change and even if they attempt it, it’s not long before they run back to the confines of familiarity
Eastbound & Down takes its changes and runs a mile with it. It pushes the boundaries even further and the result is one of television’s best comedy series.
HBO brings the show to Blu-Ray with a decent, but not great transfer. A vivid color palette and solid blacks looks quite good, as do skintones. Grain gets a bit heavy at times and detail isn’t the best. The picture never seems to be as sharp as it should be and although this is a step up from how it looked on television, it’s nothing more than mediocre.
The dialogue heavy track sounds good enough and is always clean and audible. Soundtrack choices are excellent and when surrounds do perk up, they feel appropriate. Directional effects are present and effective and overall, like the video, it gets the job done but it won’t blow you away
Special features include:
- Audio Commentary on Chapter 7 with writer Danny R. McBride and writer/director Jody Hill.
- Audio Commentary on Chapter 10 with writer Danny R. McBride and writer/director Jody Hill, and Steve Little.
- Invitation to the Set
- Big Red Cockfighting
- Deleted Scenes
- Audio Commentary on Chapter 11 with director David Gordon Green and Chris Gebert
- Audio Commentary on Chapter 12 with director with writer Danny R. McBride, writer/director Jody Hill, and Steve Little.
- Audio Commentary on Chapter 13 with writer Danny R. McBride, writer/director Jody Hill, and Steve Little.
Frankly, the features aren’t really worth your time. That being said, the commentaries themselves aren’t bad and are actually quite entertaining. McBride and Hill gel well together and when Little joins, he fits right in. We hear about how they crafted the story for season two and about some of the filmmaking techniques used. It’s nothing groundbreaking but it’s enjoyable enough to make it worth listening to. Everything else though is filler and I wouldn’t waste my time with it if I were you.
Eastbound & Down will be entering its third season and final season later this year. It’s unfortunate because it really is one of television’s best comedy series. Danny McBride has proved that he can be more than just a supporting character and his character of Kenny Powers will surely live on once the show is gone. Despite the mediocre transfer and not so great features, I’d still recommend this one. The show is great and the seven episodes alone make this one worth adding to your Blu-Ray collection.
Eastbound & Down takes its changes and runs a mile with it. It pushes the boundaries even further and the result is one of television's best comedy series.