Sunday, October 2, 2016

Pitch 1x02 Review: "The Interim" (#Ginnsanity is Growing) [Guest Poster: Jennifer Iacopelli]

"The Interim"
Original Airdate: September 29, 2016

Crisis averted. Bullet dodged. Fears assuaged. Nothing to see here. I was so worried, everyone. I’m not sure how to express the the gnawing terror in my stomach at the idea that Pitch, the best pilot I’ve seen in over a decade, wouldn’t be able to live up to the standard it set in its first episode. I knew going into this show that it would be everything I’ve ever wanted on my TV screen. It’s equal parts A League of Their Own (the movie that inspired a generation of women and told them that it was okay to love sports) and The West Wing (the TV show that told the whole world that understanding the world was also okay). So when the second episode of Pitch started up, to the notes of Black Violin’s "A-Flat," which has so far provided a stellar soundtrack, I was beyond nervous.

Clearly, I had nothing to worry about. Pitch picks up where we left off — or close to it — with the Padres headed north to Los Angeles to face off against the Dodgers with reports swirling of dissension in the clubhouse and rumors that their manager is about to be fired for losing control of his team. The media attention hasn’t lessened, in fact after notching her first win; #Ginnsanity has only grown in intensity with no signs of slowing down.

But that’s periphery. Pitch’s true strength is in its characters and once again Kylie Bunbury delivers in making Ginny Baker unabashedly real. She’s a young woman in an impossible situation whose grit and determination makes it possible. After a slew of flashbacks in the pilot episode that took us through Ginny’s life from an actual toddler to the day she was recruited by the San Diego Padres (which was also the day her father died), in this episode we travel to 2014 and we’re introduced to Ginny as a minor league ballplayer. Her brother, Will — the same poor kid who took a slap in the face from their dad in the last episode to prove to Ginny she could throw a strike — is now her agent and looking after her best interests while she rises in the ranks towards the majors. We’re immediately won over by Will when Ginny’s present-day agent makes her first appearance in their lives as he introduces himself as, “Will Baker and I’m with ‘Stay the Hell Away from My Little Sister’.” Of course we know immediately that Amelia Slater wins over Ginny and her brother, but despite knowing how the story ends, the flashbacks continue to be enlightening for the viewer.

After spending the first episode trying his hardest to make us all hate him right up until the very end, we also start to learn a ton about Mike Lawson, Ginny’s All-Star catcher. I’ll give him this: he’s trying. If you know anything about baseball — and I know a lot — 36 is pretty old to be catching, even if you are an All-Star. Most guys move out from behind the plate — usually to first base or designated hitter — in their early 30s to save their knees and keep their still-productive bats in the line-up for as long as they can. Mike Lawson, however, is still fighting the good fight, crouching in a squat for a few hours every day and then sitting in ice-baths to relieve his aching joints post-game. It’s apparently one of his major character traits.

Lawson doesn’t give up on people. Not on Ginny, not on his teammates, and not even on his ex-wife/sports reporter, played by Joanna Garcia Swisher (who we want to love immediately because she’s Joanna Garcia Swisher, but the jury’s still out since it seems she’s stomped all over his heart over the last few years). She’s also the catalyst that pushes Ginny into realizing despite the #Ginnsanity and all the pressure, that she’s the one in charge of herself and can take control if she wants to. And by the end of the episode, sitting on a chair opposite Jimmy Kimmel — a chair she only occupies because she’s a woman — Ginny lets the world know who she is and it’s brilliant.

All that being said, Pitch knows its weaknesses and one of those weaknesses is its premise. The show knows and understands that there is a population of people, potential viewers, baseball fans, the vast majority of them men, who will not watch the show because it’s about a woman making it into the major leagues. To the show’s credit, it pulls no punches when dealing with them behind the fourth wall. It even comes close to crossing that sacred line a couple of times. One of her teammates, while they’re out for a celebratory beer asks, tipsily, “Ginny, what’s your deal with men?” What he means of course is, “Is there any chance at all for us to hook up?” but what the audience hears is quite different. Everything in Ginny’s life is about men — how men react to her on the field, how men react to her off the field; if she loses, she should lose because she’s competing against men, if she wins men got beaten by a girl.

And judging by the show’s ratings so far (though arguably because it’s up against Thursday Night Football with a terrible lead-in), men are not watching Pitch. So ladies, gentlemen, if you’re watching — if you love what you’re seeing — GET THEE TO A TV ON THURSDAY NIGHTS AND TUNE IN. Because Ginny Baker is here and she’s everything we’ve ever wanted, but let’s make sure she’s here to stay!

  • I cannot get over how adorable the relationship is between Blip Sanders and his wife Evelyn. They are smart, sexy and real. And while I really enjoyed their subplot of “find Blip’s horrible old lucky T-shirt” this episode, I’m going to need the show to dig down deep into these two and their dynamic. It’s fantastic. Line of the episode goes to Evelyn with, “What? Your Grand Master Flash t-shirt will lose its magic powers and you won’t make the All-Star team? Say it out loud. Go on.” 
  • Dan Lauria as team manager Al Luongo continues to be perfectly cast. His scene in the locker room with Ginny where he apologizes for a bonehead comment of his actually brought me to tears, despite me being angry at him for the aforementioned bonehead comment.
  • I ship Mike and Ginny. I don’t think the show is going there — in fact I have a ton of evidence that the show is NOT going to go there, at least not yet — but if you flash to Ginny when Mike’s kissing a Random Super Model and then you flash to him when she’s talking about how she doesn’t date ball players and then you give me a scene where they’re working out together and breathing heavily and sweating I’M GOING TO GET SHIPPY FEELS SHOW, SO DEAL WITH IT.
Sound off in the comments below with your thoughts on Pitch's second episode!


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