Pitch (FOX) pilot preview: Empire, sports edition

KULIE

Created by Dan Fogelman (GalavantThe Neighbors, Crazy Stupid Love, Tangled) & Rick Singer (Younger, American Dad!, Suddenly Susan).Directed by Paris Barclay (Sons of Anarchy, In Treatment, Cold Case, NYPD Blue). Executive produced by Dan Fogelman, Paris Barclay, Tony Bill (Flyboys), Helen Bartlett & Rick Singer. For FOX, 20th Century FOX Television & Rhode Island Ave. Productions. 60 pages.

Description: The incredible story of Ginny Bakera young female pitcher who defies the odds when she becomes the first woman to play in the major baseball leagues. She now has to deal with celebrity-every little girl in America want to be her growing up- and her teammates, who are not happy having a woman on the field…

With Kylie Bunbury (Twisted, Under The Dome), Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Franklin & Bash, NYPD Blue, Saved by the Bell), Ali Larter (Heroes), Mark Consuelos (Kingdom, All My ChildrenMo McRae (Wild, The Butler, Sons of Anarchy), Meagan Holder, Tim Jo (The Neighbors)…

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Here’s a tip for aspiring writers out there: read at least once a script written by Dan Fogelman, whether it’s for his movies or series. You’ll learn a lot. This man has something special that’s always great on the page. And most of the time, it turns into something great on the screen too. Funny, emotional, offbeat: those are the three words that describe his work best. This pilot season, he got two orders: one for dramedy Thirty-Six at NBC (Read the preview) and one for baseball drama Pitch at FOX, he co-wrote with Rick Singer. Don’t know what’s gonna happen if both are picked-up to series, but it would be great news for us, viewers. For the networks, it’s another story.

So far, his series were critically acclaimed (not instantly for The Neighbors, quickly for Galavant) but didn’t become hits. And that’s because he’s hugely talented that he’s still there. Clearly. You don’t get that many chances when you’re not. With Pitch he is onto something. FOX surely hopes it could become a big hit like Empire. Like an “Empire: Sports Edition”. It seems like it was conceived as such. They definitely share something. Did they ask him to create a show around baseball when he signed an exclusive deal with 20th Century FOX Television? Wouldn’t be far-fetched actually. If Pitch and Empire are paired on the schedule, then magic could happen! And if FOX uses the Baseball World Series to launch it, chances are getting bigger and bigger for it to become huge. It all makes sense in a purely strategic perspective. But if the show’s not good, then nothing’s gonna happen.

I’m not a sports person and certainly not a baseball person. However, I found this pilot about a female pitcher really interesting. Probably because it’s written by him. Somebody else would probably treat the same subject with way too much seriousness. It’s not what he did. He’s funny, so the script is funny. He’s sensitive, so the script is sensitive. And well, maybe it’s not as offbeat as his previous comedies but a few characters are a bit weird though. So if you like what he did before, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy Pitch. And honestly, it’s hard not to fall in love with our heroin, Ginny Baker, like America did in the story. She has a life story that will make you whimper a little. And she’s admirable for who she is and what she represents: a woman breaking the glass ceiling in the male dominated world of baseball. Will male viewers accept her best than her teammates? That’s the only real question. Sexism is a powerful force…

Fogelman describes her as “Hillary Clinton with sex appeal”, “a Kardashian with a skill set”. I thought you should know. And she’s black. I have to point it because of my Empire comparison. The cast is meant to be diverse with a focus on afro-americans, which is logical because of the context of the show. That’s one common point. The other one being the treatment of the subject of fame. She’s not a celebrity, she’s a star, whether she likes it or not, and she has now a whole team around her, following her every step, to make sure she doesn’t make any mistakes publicly. Amelia Slater (Ali Larter) is her PR guru/protector and she’s funny as hell; Eliot Berger works with her and helps to manage Ginny’s social media accounts, and he’s cool. Then you have her brother, her mother, and her teammates/haters, one of whom being a player she admired a lot…before she met him. They all form an interesting group of characters we don’t get to see much on scripted television since series about sports are rare.

Network executives tend to think TV series about sports are too “niche” to please a huge crowd (Friday Night Lights was, it’s true). Which doesn’t really make sense since live sports get the biggest ratings on television! Pitch is here to prove the genre is not doomed. With the right angle and the right writers, everything is possible!  Baseball fans AND non-baseball fans could enjoy the show so much… FOX’s better bet on it and defy the odds!

One comment

  1. Liz says:

    Dan Fogelman is awesome, sounds like the female l read is a bit of a controversy magnet from the kardassian/clinton description you mention. Should make for entertaining tv.

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