The upcoming Danny McBride starrer "Eastbound and Down" should be an interesting addition to HBO's comedy pantheon.
Internally at HBO, the buzz on the show, from Gary Sanchez Prods., is mixed. Some roll their eyes, while others love it for its unabashed balls-out-ness. From the brief clips HBO screened at TCA on Friday, "Eastbound" looks like raunchy, Southern-fried fun, but whether it works as a series, of course, remains to be seen.
McBride, who co-starred in "Pineapple Express," plays a one-time star baseball pitcher who's drummed out of the game by a steroid scandal. A few years later, he's hit such a low point that he returns to his North Carolina home town to work as a P.E. teacher in his old middle school.
If nothing else, "Eastbound," set to bow Feb. 15, should have a ring of authenticity. McBride, who hails from small-town Virginia, co-created the series with two pals from film school in North Carolina: Jody Hill and Ben Best, who are both sons of small-town North Carolina (though Best bragged that his home town of High Point was "the furniture capital of the world" and hosted a mammoth trade show every year.) And "Eastbound" was shot in North Carolina using "real Southern kids" as extras, "not kids from Burbank," McBride noted. McBride, Hill and Powers said they aim to update urbanites' view of life in the South beyond the "Hee-Haw" stereotype.
(Pictured: Best, left, and McBride)
"A lot of it is the mundaneness of living in a small town. Instead of going out to a nightclub, you do out to a Chili's," McBride explained.
Asked by a reporter whether Kenny Powers was looking for redemption after his big fall, McBride hesitated a bit before answering: "It's definitely structured to be a story of redemption. He's give many avenues to redeem himself. He makes his own choices."
Best amplified: "He always chooses the path that leaves him further down. In each episode, you think 'This is the lowest the man can get,'" but then more things transpire and "you say, 'Oh wait, this is the lowest he can get.'"
Best plays Clegg, a high school party buddy of Powers' who is about the only person in town who will have anything to do with (and deal dope to) McBride's character. The screen chemistry between them should be strong, based on what McBride and Best displayed on the TCA panel.
Best: "(Clegg) supplies him with whatever he needs to feel better."
McBride: "Which isn't that different from our relationship in real life."
Best: "Write what you know, you know."