One episode provided prior to broadcast.
There’s a powerful show in Pitch, but it’s not fully realized within its pilot. The bases are loaded. The eye is firmly on the ball. But it’s not hitting home — at least, not yet. It’s in a bit of a slump. The new Fox drama from creators Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love.) and Rick Singer (TV Land’s Younger) is eager to knock it out of the park, but it doesn’t quite have the muscle power to pull it off. The confident-but-heavily-cliched first episode isn’t necessarily a foul ball, but it’s not a grand slam like it should be. It’s a middle-of-the-road introduction for a rookie series with serious potential for greatness, though it’ll need a few more practice runs before it’s ready to make it into the big leagues.
Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury) is proclaimed the most important woman in the world. The first female pitcher to join the majors, recently signed onto the San Diego Padres, everyone is watching her first performance on the field. “She’s the biggest sports story since OJ, and hopefully it has a happier ending,” one sportscaster states in passing. “She’s Hillary Clinton with sex appeal” and “a Kardashian with a skill set,” according to Amelia Slater (Ali Larter), her ball-busting assistant. She’s potentially the next Jackie Robinson and she’s become a hero even before her first game.
Needless to say, greatness is expected from Ginny — if she can work past media outcries, disgruntled male teammates, pessimistic fans (to say the least) and strict expectations from her former ballplayer father (Michael Beach). Ginny is a strong, self-dependent woman with clear goals, but the road ahead is a rocky one. Success won’t be won easily.
The same can be said for Pitch. Never less than earnest and sentimental, Fogelman and Singer (who also wrote the pilot) are ironically too stringently reliant on past tropes and tired cliches to properly tell a story of unprecedented achievements. The dialogue often comes across Aaron Sorkin-lite and the plot mechanics are too familiar to anyone with a decent familiarity to these kind of sports stories.
Much like Ginny Baker, however, Pitch is determined, strong-willed and committed to success, if not quite ready for excellence. The longer the pilot goes on, the stronger it becomes — at least, until its eye-rolling last minute twist — and that’s usually thanks to its outstanding performances, particularly two great turns from Bunbury and Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Mike Lawson, the Padres’ tough-but-ultimately-supportive captain.
Their dedication and persistence to the material — no matter how cheesy it might be at times — is what might very well save Pitch from meddling mediocrity. Much like baseball itself, it’s a team effort, and they’re all giving it their best. And they should, too, because in a time where Donald Trump could potentially take the presidency from Hillary Rodham Clinton, such female empowerment is worth recognizing, celebrating and hopefully achieving. Like a downtrodden rookie with burning passion in its eyes, I desperately want Pitch to become a power hitter. It could be, and it damn well should be. But for now, it’s currently walking towards first base, hoping to score that powerhouse play in the next inning.
There's a powerful show in Pitch, but it's not fully realized within its pilot.