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Josh Reviews the Fourth and Final Season of Brockmire

Hank Azaria’s series Brockmire has consistently been one of my very favorite shows these past few years.  (Season three was one of my favorite TV shows of 2019.)  Each eight-episode season has been a small slice of pure pleasure.  The series is fiercely hilarious while also telling emotional stories about the broken characters featured on the show.  This fourth and final season was absolute perfection.  The series’ love of baseball, and its commentary on today’s world mixed beautifully with the way they wrapped up all of the main characters’ storylines… without ever being afraid to pause to allow Hank Azaria’s Brockmire to deliver a scorchingly profane punchline.  I miss this show already!

As I have written before, Jim Brockmire is the role that Hank Azaria was born to play.  Mr. Azaria is screamingly funny, while also able to skillfully bring a lot of pathos and emotion to his depiction of the character. I love how the series has chronicled Brockmire’s slow, painful journey back from being disgraced and in the gutter.  It’s an insane idea that, here in this fourth and final season, Brockmire has somehow managed to become the Commissioner of baseball, but it’s absolutely perfect.  The series mines a lot of comedy from the profane, rough-and-tumble Brockmire’s new role as an administrator, and it’s fun to see the show explore a new side of the world of baseball.  (Also: I’m glad we got one final very funny Joe Buck appearance!!)

A key element in the first season of Brockmire was Amanda Peet as Jules, the woman with whom Bockmire falls in love while working as a play-by-play announcer in Morristown, a small Pennsylvania coal town.  I missed Jules’ regular presence in seasons two and three, and so I was delighted that she was back as a full-time player here in the final season.  Ms. Peet and Mr. Azaria’s comic energy remains spectacular, and I was very pleased to see that Brockmire and Jules’ on-again off-again relationship was given a satisfying resolution.

This final season of Brockmire is, for the most part, set in the future: specifically, the year 2033.  It’s a bold choice, but one that turns out to be beautifully serendipitous.  The show was completed long before the start of this pandemic, but began airing right as COVID-19 was spreading.  This makes the show’s social commentary far more biting than might have been expected.  Brockmire’s depiction of the United States of America is a scary (but horrifyingly possible) future, in which the country has continued to slide into a chasm of haves versus have-nots; many Southern states are now lawless “Disputed Lands”; and climate change has wreaked havoc, not the least of which appears to be the prevalence of “supercancers”, ineffective aids for which are advertised on TV.  The arrival of an American apocalypse is all played for laughs, but, wow, some of those laughs are painful ones!!

I also loved the show’s depiction of something called “Limon,” a ubiquitous tiny lemon-shaped device which is like an iPhone crossed with a personal assistant.  It’s not a shock when the end of the season reveals that the A.I. powering Limon has achieved consciousness.  What is a shock is that it might be up to recovering alcoholic Brockmire, the very-much still drunk Jules, and their old intern Charlie (Tyrel Jackson Williams), now a super-rich mogul, to save the world.  That might sound like this little show about baseball might have gotten too broad, but it all works.

Speaking of Charlie, who was a major player in seasons one and two but who had a much smaller role in season three, it’s great to see him back in this final season.  He isn’t a main character like he used to be, but we see enough of him that I was satisfied.

This final season reveals that, during Brockmire’s debauched dark days (following the profane on-air meltdown that got him exiled from baseball originally), he fathered a child in the Philippines.  This daughter, Beth, is a main character here in season four and, played by Reina Hardesty, she’s a wonderful addition to the show, sweet and very funny.  It’s fun to see that Brockmire has actually been a pretty terrific father, though as Beth graduates high school and leaves the nest, we see Brockmire struggling with his alcoholic’s tendency to fear the loss of control this means for him.

With the U.S. going down the tubes, the former national pastime is suffering as well. I have always enjoyed how central a love of baseball was to the DNA of this show, and it’s interesting to see the show wrestle with the direction in which baseball might be heading.  (Jokes about the exponentially-increasing length of baseball games might be easy pickings, but they still land!)  I love that, in the end, it’s up to our hero Brockmire to try to find a way to save the game he loves.

The finale wraps everything together beautifully.  There are some dark moments in this final season, but I was pleased that, in the end, things concluded with a suggestion of hope.  When Jim gets some concerning news about his health, I was worried about where the show was going to wind up; but creator/showrunner Joel Church-Cooper brought all of the story-threads and character-arcs together wonderfully.  And, wow, Hank Aazria does some of the best acting of his career in that lengthy, almost dialogue-free moment right (a rarity for Jim Brockmire!) at the end.  (I won’t spoil the context.)  Very impressive.

(For a fantastic post-finale interview with Mr. Church-Cooper, conducted by TV critic Alan Sepinwall, click here.)

At only eight episodes (the same length as each of the previous three seasons), it all went by far too quickly!!!  I desperately miss this show already.

Photo Credit: Jace Downs/IFC

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