There’s a semi-regular feature on NPR’s Sound Check that examines songs and asks the question, “That was a hit?”
That came to my mind when was asked to like the Facebook page for Back in the Game, a new series coming to ABC. Here’s the premise, from the show’s web page:
Terry Gannon Jr. (Maggie Lawson) was an All Star softball player until life threw her a couple curve balls: a baby, a lost college scholarship and a loser for a husband. After striking out on her own, Terry and her son Danny (Griffin Gluck) move in with her estranged father, Terry Sr. aka “The Cannon” (James Caan). The Cannon is an opinionated, beer-guzzling, ex-athlete who never quite made the cut as a single father or professional baseball player. As hard as Terry tries to keep Danny away from the sports-driven lifestyle of her youth, Danny wants to play Little League. His stunning lack of baseball skills (he doesn’t even know which hand the mitt goes on) makes him the laughing stock of the baseball field and his grandfather’s living room. When Danny and a group of other athletically-challenged hopefuls fail to make the team, Danny’s disappointment forces Terry to face her past. So when a wealthy neighbor volunteers to finance a team for the rejected kids, Terry reluctantly offers to coach the team of misfits.
Where to begin?
Just from the above description, how about the fact that the female character is named Terry Gannon Jr.? Think there are some father-child issues there? (And how much time was spent picking the name “Gannon?” I’m betting the writers were sitting around looking for an adequate nickname more than a surname, so Gannon/Cannon.)
“Life throws her a couple of curveballs…”? “Striking out on her own?” Were the writers given a baseball cliche thesaurus? Even the trailer seems more appropriate for a feature-length film than a TV show:
I watched the first episode on Hulu. I know that some programs need time to develop and you can’t always judge a series based on the pilot, but I wouldn’t watch another episode of this drek if ABC gave me a 64-inch smart TV and free cable for life. This makes HBO’s Eastbound and Down look like Emmy material.
Unless she sustained an injury somewhere after her playing career, Terry (as played by Maggie Lawson) is wholly unbelievable as someone who was once a star athlete (baseball through high school then softball in college). Her skills on the mound (how many pitchers of either sex do you know who would wear rings on their throwing hand during a game?) and at bat (at least hitting fungoes) are woefully inadequate, even when the viewer totally suspends disbelief. It’s an insult to female athletes.
And women can’t coach a boys team, according to the boys’ club that runs the league? Please. The misogyny is almost palpable, as when the commissioner (and since when do commissioners act as the sole decider for who plays?) calling a the rich woman, whose openly gay son was also cut, “Crazy Spice?” Somebody hit that guy in the face with a shovel.
This cliche-driven ripoff of The Bad News Bears is full of exaggerated cast-offs and losers, including a Spanish-speaking kid, a black kid, and a fat kid who will probably be the catcher, except those kids in the film had some degree of talent once in awhile (although the gay kid would never have been even considered for the original BNB).
Terry’s son, Danny — or is it Donny? Her dad, a former pro ballplayer (played by James Caan) and no father-of-the-year candidate, can never get it right and I don’t care — reminds one of this car commercial, except that kid has some talent, too.
But I suppose the premise is that although they might not be athletically gifted, they will learn acceptance and life lessons. Spare me.