DVD Review: HBO’s Hilarious ‘Eastbound and Down’ Gets Great Release

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CHICAGO – Danny McBride (“Pineapple Express,” “Land of the Lost”) gave one of the best TV performances of the last several years as the over-the-top anti-hero of HBO’s hysterical “Eastbound & Down,” a sitcom about a raging a-hole sports star brought back to Earth and forced to work as a gym teacher in the small town he grew up in, now available on DVD.

HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 4.0/5.0
DVD Rating: 4.0/5.0

Kenny Powers is a giant, raging, alcoholic catfish in a small pond. He used to have it all - endorsements, trophies, a million-dollar contract. As his steroid-enhanced skills declined, the fact that Kenny Powers was also a total a-hole came to the surface and he was run out of professional sports (MLB fans familiar with the true story of John Rocker will see some of that in this fictional take).

Eastbound and Down: The Complete First Season was released on DVD on June 30th, 2009.
Eastbound and Down: The Complete First Season was released on DVD on June 30th, 2009.
Photo credit: HBO Home Video

After leaving baseball, Kenny returns home to live with his brother (John Hawkes) and sister-in-law (Jennifer Irwin) and teach at the North Carolina middle school that he once attended. He tries to work his way back into the life of his teen-years girlfriend (the underrated Katy Mixon), who also teaches at the school and happens to be engaged to the dorky principal (Andrew Daly).

Eastbound and Down: The Complete First Season was released on DVD on June 30th, 2009.
Eastbound and Down: The Complete First Season was released on DVD on June 30th, 2009.
Photo credit: HBO Home Video

Powers also operates under the delusion that not only is he still famous but that he will one day pitch in the majors again. So, he tries to use his fame at events like one at a local car dealer (a fantastic Will Ferrell, appearing in two episodes) and takes steroids again in his pursuit to re-find his fastball. Drugs, cheap sex, unbelievable profanity, and general obnoxiousness are a way of life for a man who listens to his own audio book (“You’re F**kin’ Out, I’m F**kin’ In”) for inspiration.

Over six hysterical episodes, “Eastbound & Down” feels like nothing else on television. It’s more like a six-part, three-hour comedy feature film, a feeling enhanced by the superstar cast and great team behind the camera, including producers Ferrell and Adam McKay and directors Jody Hill (“Observe and Report”) and the great David Gordon Green (“Pineapple Express,” “Snow Angels”). One of the best American filmmakers of his generation directed a half-hour comedy earlier this year. Even if you’re not a TV fan, you should see it.

The DVD from HBO treats Kenny Powers like the star he is in his own mind. The episodes look better-than-average for standard DVD in 16x9 widescreen and the sound is more than adequate in English 5.1 Dolby Surround. HBO has long led the way in TV and produced some amazing DVD season sets, but they really should be offering every show, especially one as acclaimed as “Eastbound & Down,” on Blu-Ray. It’s disappointing that this is only available on standard, even if it’s a great standard release.

The special features are extensive and interesting, including several audio commentaries, some very funny outtakes and deleted scenes, “Making Eastbound & Down,” “Kenny Powers: Greatest Hits,” “Schaeffer Motors Commercials,” and “Steve’s Dark Secret”.

It’s unlikely, but if there’s any Emmy justice, “Eastbound & Down” will get a couple of nominations later this month (check out our feature about that) and season two has already been announced. Check out the great first season DVD and jump on the bandwagon before Kenny Powers really becomes a household name again.

‘Eastbound & Down: The Complete First Season’ was released by HBO Home Video and stars Danny McBride, Katy Mixon, John Hawkes, Andrew Daly, Ben Best, Jennifer Irwin, and Steve Little. It was created by Ben T. Best & Jody L. Hill & Danny R. McBride. The show was released on June 30th, 2009. It is rated TV-MA.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

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