Eastbound & Down: The Complete First Season

Eastbound & Down: The Complete First Season
Kenny Powers is such a dick, it's almost enough to make you not want to watch HBO comedy series Eastbound & Down. Boorish, sexist, self-absorbed, drunk, stupid and vain, he tears through his small hometown like he's renting it for a lost weekend. But inside of Danny McBride's portrayal of Powers - another in a long line of arrogant, stupid bastards he's played recently, from The Foot Fist Way to Tropic Thunder - there's a hint of humanity, a sadness, a desperation to be liked and to succeed. Powers had a taste of the good life during his brief flash of fame as a hot-headed relief pitcher; he's reduced to moving in with his brother's family and teaching gym at his former high school while plotting a comeback that will never happen and basking in the adulation of the small-town folks for whom he's a glimpse of greatness. Even though it's a glimpse you can't un-see. The combination of desperation and pigheadedness is, in McBride's hands, comic genius, and the lead actor deserves much of the credit as co-creator and co-writer of most of the episodes. Fearless in his obnoxiousness, he's matched a few times - in the just half-dozen episodes that make up this first season - by real-life mentor Will Ferrell (a producer on the show), who plays the obnoxious "player" in town, in the form of a successful car salesman. If Powers were just a deluded asshole, or if his redemption didn't seem at least somewhat deserved, Eastbound & Down would border on unwatchable but in the hilarious deconstruction of fame and its after-effects, as well as the compelling performances of the star-struck small-towners, it manages to be more than its parts. The DVD is largely a celebration of people's attempts to keep a straight face during absurdly over-the-top insult fests and the high-speed riffage of McBride on commentaries. It's a great start to what could be one of HBO's signature franchises, a Larry David for the sporty set. Plus: Schaffer Motors commercials, deleted scenes, more. (Warner)