Posted Friday, April 20, 2018 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Anyone who watched the first season of Hank Azaria's hilariously boozed-up, washed-up baseball broadcaster Jim Brockmire on IFC's "Brockmire" won't find him cleaning up his act season two as he gets closer to returning to the majors. Nope. He's arguably in even worse shape.
The show - shot largely in metro Atlanta - returns on IFC April 25 at 10 p.m. but the network released the first episode early online if you want to sample it now.
Transplanted from Morristown, Pa. to New Orleans to cover the Braves' fictional Triple A team there, Brockmire no longer has the love of his life Jules James (Amanda Peet) around, just Charles (Tyrel Jackson Williams), who is basically his babysitter. But Charles isn't even 21. He can only watch over Brockmire so much.
In the first episode of season two alone, Brockmire is unapologetically happy to indulge in Bourbon, mushrooms and cocaine, as well as a prostitute or two (who get Brockmire gift baskets as bonuses.)
"Sometimes, you just have to cut out those annoying middleman like fun and conversation and get straight to the booze," Brockmire told Charles before entering his favorite speakeasy.
On the bright side, Brockmire's podcast is doing gangbusters. And he has a shot at going to the Show again with the Atlanta Braves when a job opening comes up.
But Brockmire refuses to do road games and the announcer who covers for him named Raj is also in the running.
And Raj is more popular than Brockmire, much to Brockmire's consternation. "Raj is the kind of guy people want a beer with," said the marketing director during a scene from episode three, which IFC allowed several press members to watch earlier this year. "You? You're a loaded gun that could go off at any time."
'America loves loaded guns - especially the kids!" Brockmire protests.
But when she suggests he be more likable, more like Jimmy Fallon, Brockmire says he refuses to be a "shuck it and jive it" character like Stepin Fetchit," a reference to a black stereotype of yore willing to do what it takes to entertain the white masses. Charles, who is black, asks him to stop comparing his life to that of the black experience. "There are a lot of parallels," Brockmire opines.
During a press conference at Coolray Stadium in Lawrenceville, creator Joel Church Cooper describes how he tries to balance the darkness in Brockmire's life with the humor and do so in a distinct way. "We put the dark in the dark comedy," he said.
Over eight episodes shot over 24 days, Atlanta was able to double as New Orleans for most of the show. The Cabbagetown neighborhood, he noted, has a definite charminglysagging, decayed Orleans feel. But they had to shoot a few scenes in the French Quarter in New Orleans itself because that is difficult to replicate.
"We wanted it to feel lived in and old," Cooper said, a metaphor for Brockmire himself, who tries to stay hip and new by doing the podcast but is essentially a dinosaur in 2018.
Azaria, who created the Brockmire character years ago, said he loved the idea of bringing the man to the Big Easy because "New Orleans is conducive to his bad behavior. His career is going up. His psyche is going way down."
"It's very dark," Azaria added. "It makes last season seem like a Disney show in some ways."
Given the short amount of time in production and the verbosity of his character, Azaria memorizes all his lines ahead of time. To him, it's like prepping for a play. "We have such a tight schedule, we don't have time to rehearse in front of the camera," he said.