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Monday, February 16, 2009

"Eastbound and Down:" Rockin' the Mullet

Who said the Jheri curl was dead?

Sure wasn’t Kenny Powers. Kenny Powers, played by "Pineapple Express" funnyman Danny McBride, says the Jheri curl is, um, freaking IN. Current, updated looks? Freaking OUT.

And as viewers of the highly anticipated, new HBO series “Eastbound and Down” know, Kenny Powers don’t take no, er, crap from no one. Not about his Jheri curl, not about his excessive drinking habits, not about his lack of self-respect or even his inappropriate behavior in front of small children. (Sidenote: This post will be difficult to keep clean, while still attempting to bring out Kenny Powers-likeness.)

The life of Kenny Powers is pretty simple — even a bit clichéd. He’s your typical ego-charged, ‘roids fueled washed up athlete. About a decade ago, Kenny Powers was the man. Coming off a World Series win — thanks to some brilliant pitching — Powers and his F-bomb dropping catch phrase were on top of the sports world. With no public relations guru to help him sort what to say from what not to say and clearly, no self-censoring, it was only a matter of time that Kenny Powers was on the fast track to Loserville.

Now, several years later yet still Jheri-curling it up, Kenny Powers is back in his hometown living with his super-skinny brother and his brother’s family — a church, um, lady, two young boys and a little girl. To try to keep the feds away from his "goods," Kenny decides it’s about time he got a respectable job. Also known as substitute gym teacher.

It’s not known how he’s possibly qualified — he allegedly began pitching for the pros at 19 and never received any collegiate education. Nor how anyone would let him be around children with his foul mouth and efforts to lure kids to target one poor student as a victim of ridicule and teasing. Kenny somehow lands a spot as the newest member of the faculty at the local elementary school.

The show is funny, no doubt. But it’s also very typical Danny McBride. If you ever saw “Foot Fist Way,” it’s basically an exact clone of his character — swearing in front of children, chasing tail and not taking no crap from anybody. This time the children are his students, the tail is his former ex-girlfriend from high school and the no crap from anybody comes in the form of the elementary school principal, who idolizes the ground Mr. Powers dances upon in cowboy boots to bad ‘80s music.

The pilot has set up the plot to revolve around Kenny’s return to greatness, in the form of excessive binge drinking and money grabbing from just about any sell-out efforts that are left.

And what’s a series without a little love triangle? This time it involves Powers, the ex-girlfriend lovingly referred to as Miss Big Canons, aka: Miss Buchanan and the geeky principal, who’s oddly engaged to Miss Big Canons, I mean, Miss Buchanan.

Overall, I’d say the series has potential. So far, so good. But with the same jokes and the heavy emphasis and reliance on comedy based on swearing, drugs and HBO’s ability to show the fun bags, who knows if that comedy will last the test of time. I’ll admit, by the end of the episode, I still wanted more but if you’re talking an entire series of this, I can’t see it being funny for more than three episodes. The beauty of this comedy is the impact and the punch. After a while, it’ll become too commonplace and then you’ve killed all your funny.

Executive producer Will Ferrell has signed on to cameo in next week’s episode and with that bleach blonde hair, I’d say we’re in for at least one more episode of greatness. HBO giants have only ordered six episodes of “Eastbound and Down,” however, so maybe even they know once Ferrell is gone, so is the comedy.

Catch “Eastbound and Down” Sundays on HBO at 9:30 p.m. right after “Flight of the Conchords.”

Sara Boyd, sboyd2@greenbaypressgazette.com

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3 Comments:

Agree 100 percent. Pretty funny in spots, but for now, too much reliance on overt profanity and gutter comedy. I think that works over the course of a two-hour Will Ferrell movie, but not sure if it'll hold up as an entire series. That said, the scene where Kenny walks into the school and imagines all the kids fawning over him while he does crotch chops was pretty freakin' hilarious.

-- Tom

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At February 17, 2009 at 1:07 PM  

Which was all set to the Black Keys' "Your Touch" which made the scene that much better. But, here's the thing about this show. I watched it after FOC, and there was a parallel that I noticed between the episodes. They both had a herpes/std joke. The Conchords joke was at a clinic after Jemaine hooked up with Keitha, and Bret noticed a reddish mark on Jemaine's lip. They immediately think it's crabs as they awkwardly discuss this with an onlooker in the room. Turns out it's leftover lipstick from Jemaine's tryst. Now, EB&D had a herpes joke in the bar scene with the groupie chick. She has a sore on her lip and the bartender (Chuck the Truck) blurts out, "What you need is a *bleep*-load of Valtrex!" That's the difference between the shows. One relies on subtlety and wit, while the other is just in-your-face raunch. That said, I'll keep watching EB&D if only for the, "I'm a bullett-proof tiger!" line. There are only six episodes this season, so it isn't that much of a time investment.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At February 18, 2009 at 12:28 PM  

I was laughing too hard to notice that was Black Keys. Nice catch, anon. And nice STD joke breakdown. You should put those powers to positive use someday.

-- Tom

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At February 19, 2009 at 9:13 AM  

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