Eastbound and Down (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus feels like a bullet proof tiger while watching Kenny Powers on DVD
Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) had it all. He was a baseball legend with an arm like a fucking cannon, he had the money coming in, and he was adored. Then came the drink, the drugs, the women and the racist comments on national TV, and Kenny Powers' bubble burst.
Returning to his hometown the Kenny Powers big time attitude is met mostly with indifference, but he retains his belief that he will return to the major leagues. However after taking a job at the local school teaching gym and re-discovering the love of his life, April (Katy Mixon), Kenny Powers may very well have a reason to stick around, even if he doesn't want to admit it.
It seems like an age ago when I first watched
Eastbound & Down(I guess six episodes comes and goes in a snap) but after waiting for a Blu-ray release in the US (which didn’t come) I’ve bitten the bullet and picked up the DVD set to re-experience the Kenny Powers charm (or lack thereof) all over again.
After seeing Danny McBride as the reliable third wheel in
Pineapple Express(a movie I couldn’t get enough of at the time) he steps up to the plate in his own show, playing the sort of role he’s becoming more known for, that of a brash, ignorant, over confident, rude, inconsiderate, arrogant bastard (I'd like to say with a heart at the end of that, but it's not really the case). Now that doesn’t sound like comedy gold to many I’m sure, but somehow McBride makes what should be the most unlikable character on TV a blast to be around.
Kenny Powers is the worst kind of person. His self importance immediately making him see the rest of his small hometown as below him even though it’s plain to see any currency he may have had thinking that has long gone but herein lies the genius of the show. His arrogance get him in every kind of hilarious/awkward situation, from attempting to do a personal appearance for Will Ferrell’s silver haired car salesman, Ashley Schaeffer, through to trying to impress the love of his life at her new fiancés (and Kenny’s boss) barbeque (amongst over venues) and not forgetting the show of love through dance at a school disco with Kenny loaded on ecstasy. Powers is never going to get it right but episode upon episode these situations are just a joy to watch unravel.
McBride's co-stars all bring their own elements to the show as well, Katy Mixon’s April for example is a fine counter to Powers and there’s a genuine chemistry there. Also Kenny’s brother, Dustin (played by the always great John Hawkes) has a few great scenes with the lead and Kenny’s new best friend/assistant Stevie (Steve Little) is a friendship that blossoms in all the wrong ways but still features high on the list of things this show does well.
With all the elements in place, from great comedy writing, a solid supporting cast of characters, great directors (Jody Hill, David Gordon Green and Adam McKay) and some fine cameos from Will Ferrell and Craig Robinson, the shows biggest asset is still its lead. Danny Mcbride is slowly becoming a legend in my household and his appearance in anything becomes must see pretty bloody quickly (hell, this is coming from a guy who thinks
Land of the Lostis brilliant despite its many flaws!) His dialogue delivery is top notch and his general manner in this show puts a smile on my face without much effort. In fact, from the moment I realised the voice over in the first episode wasn’t Kenny Powers’ narration but actually Kenny listening to his own motivational tapes for inspiration, I knew I was in for the whole run.
Kenny Powers is a newcomer but he’s already become a classic sit-com character for me and one I just want more episodes from (even though the sixth episode has a pretty solid wrapping up of events).
TV shows from HBO consistently look good and there’s no deviation here. Yes, you know immediately it’d look better in HD, due to the natural lighting and bright colours but the DVD does a pretty good job.
Skin tones range from natural to a tad pink in exterior scenes but colours here pop the transfer to life and with a fine mix of well dressed interior sets and plenty of outdoor adventures, the styles are all presented pretty well.
Eastbound and Down doesn’t really push the envelope when it comes to TV on DVD but I’d put it in the upper half of good transfers, with some good detail levels, great lighting and other than the odd touch of softness to the image, there’s nothing really to complain about.
As with most TV comedies, most of the track sits in the front speakers, presenting dialogue clearly (other than in episode three where I detected a slight crackle to a couple of the scenes). Where Eastbound and Down steps it up a notch though is the use of background noise in and around the school. Kids laughing, shouting and just running around fills the track out and adds a bit of depth making for a slightly above average mix for a comedy.
The other layer added to this is the use of classic rock tracks. They compliment the show perfectly and fill the audio track out, using a nice level of bass and taking a little more advantage of the rears speakers.
The only extra on disc one offers up a commentary on the first episode by David Gordon Green, writer Ben T Best, Jody Hill and Danny Mcbride. The track is quite technical in what is being discussed but with each member of the group popping comedy digs in at any given opportunity, all in all making for a fun short commentary adding a little extra background to the show.
‘Making Eastbound and Down’ (12:14) provides a fine overview to the show and the players involved and as far as I recall is much the same as the EPK on the official website when the show originally aired.
‘Kenny Powers Greatest Hits’ (02:40) is the cut of the video featured in the show and is brilliant as are the two Schaeffer Motors Commercials (both 01:25 or so) with Will Ferrell making car ads even funnier than they are already.
‘Deleted Scenes (Sweet Shit We Didn’t Use)’ (09:14) serves up some extended moments and the pretty damn funny ‘Outtakes (All the Times Someone Fucked Up)’ (13:05) is well worth the time, just for the Will Ferrell stuff about “feeling it in his plums”.
‘Stevie’s Dark Secret’ (07:38) is a standalone deleted scene that provides a super messed up revelation from Kenny’s assistant about the oldest women he’s slept with.
Lastly there are commentaries from the same participants on episodes four and six, both equally as fun as the first.
Eastbound and Down is a show I looked forward to watching every week during its TV run and being able to watch it all here again was a riot. It's one of the best comedies out there with a cast of characters that I just love being around and seemingly holds up even better on repeat viewings, with plenty of lines I can see myself repeating in years to come.
The disc itself has a solid audio and video presentation with a good set of extras offering up even more Kenny Powers goodness. Roll on a second season.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 15th March 2010
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Norwegian, Serbian, Swedish
Easter Egg: No
Director: Jody Hill, David Gordon Green, Adam McKay
Cast: Danny McBride, John Hawkes, Jennifer Irwinm Will Ferrell
Length: 168 minutes
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