Shine On, You Crazy Diamond: Showtime's "The Franchise" Gets Solid Reviews
The premiere episode of Showtime’s "The Franchise: A Season with the San Francisco Giants" aired last night, and for a series “promising viewers unprecedented access to a baseball team, the first installment came off a little puffy,” according to Scott Ostler of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The episode “wasn't deep, there were no shocks or surprises, but maybe that's going to be part of the charm of the series.” For Giants fans, it had to be "excellent watching, glimpses of the team you won't get anywhere else.” However, for the “rest of the baseball world, it will be interesting to see if the series reinforces the image of the Giants as zany, offbeat guys having fun playing a game, or causes folks in New York and Philadelphia to roll their eyes and switch the channel.” The “guy who jumps out” is P Brian Wilson, “because everyone else seems kind of normal and real.” The show made it “hard for a Giants fan not to hang on every Wilson scene.” Ostler writes one of the highlights of the show was the scene where Giants manager Bruce Bochy "tells Brandon Belt he has made the big-league team." Ostler: "Belt gets emotional and Bochy, not wanting to send the kid back to the clubhouse in tears, says, ‘You can hang with me for a while. Need a beer?’" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/14). In S.F., Eric Freeman writes the episode "sticks to baseball," and the results "are mixed, especially for Giants fans, with forward momentum occasionally being impeded by the need to explain events and developments for more casual viewers." However, there is a "lot to recommend about 'The Franchise' and plenty of reasons to hope for the future." The behind-the-scenes footage "is likely fascinating to anyone," and viewers "get a sense of the access Showtime has early in the hour, when Andres Torres has conversations about going on the DL ... in the second week of the season." Freeman: "While the episode may not have been fantastic, Showtime gets enough small moments right that I'm hopeful future episodes will focus less on the broad strokes and more on the details" (SFWEEKLY.com, 7/14).
INSIDE THE EPISODE: Last night's show depicted the early part of the Giants' season, including the aftermath of the near-death beating Giants fan Bryan Stow suffered following the season opener at Dodger Stadium. Days after the attack, the teams played at AT&T Park. Giants P Jeremy Affeldt said, “The team came up to me and asked if I would address the crowd on fan violence. So I said, ‘I appreciate the opportunity to do it,’ I just wanted to do it in a positive way.” During every homestand, the "key members of the Giants brain trust,” including Managing Partner & CEO Bill Neukom, President & COO Larry Baer and Senior VP & GM Brian Sabean, “gather to assess the franchise’s direction.” Sabean said, “We’re winning at home, we’re .500 at on the road and we’re doing damage in the division. And as undermanned as we are, we’re doing the things you have to check off to have a winning season and get to the playoffs" (“The Franchise,” Showtime, 7/13).
LOOKING THROUGH ORANGE-COLORED GLASSES: HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Tim Goodman, an admitted Giants fan, reviewed the show and wrote, "I certainly liked all of what I've seen so far." He admits if the show was focusing on the Dodgers he would not watch and writes, "I hope for Showtime's sake that other people are less rigid in their loyalty. That other potential viewers don't have my closed mind." Goodman: "If the rest of the country wants to follow the team via this Showtime series, please do. I see the early kinks in the structure of the show but I'm otherwise blinded by bias here" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 7/13).