Every once in a while a show comes along that is unlike anything else on television. In a land full of cop shows, sitcoms and film adaptations, it can be easy to assume that network television isn't doing anything unique or interesting. Fox's new sports-drama Pitch, focusing on the first woman in Major League Baseball, is a definite exception to that. Even if you're not a sports fan, Pitch has something for everyone.
The Baseball Scenes Are Great, But They Aren't Everything
If you are a huge baseball fan and you are looking for a ton of sports action, Pitch certainly delivers that in spades. In fact, the series is working closely with the MLB to bring audiences an authentic and stimulating look at the world of baseball. As someone who isn't generally into sports, I can tell you that these scenes are absolutely riveting.
However, at its core this is a story about an underdog breaking through societal barriers. Our protagonist, Ginny Baker, is the first woman in the Major League, and that is something that nobody is going to let her forget; not the men on her team, the sportscasters, the adoring fans in the stands — everywhere she turns is another reminder. Ginny isn't that interested in making a political statement or being a role model — she just wants a chance to play the game she loves and be taken seriously.
The show also expertly balances the present storyline with flashbacks to Ginny's past. These flashbacks are sprinkled throughout the show sparingly, each one revealing something about the character we didn't know before. These often include her gripping and complicated relationship with her father and her struggles to be given the opportunities that she deserves. Many shows become bogged down by balancing different timelines, but Pitch handles it all like a real pro.
A Wide Range Of Complex Characters
Ginny Baker is undoubtedly our main character, but she is surrounded by a cast of characters who are as interesting as she is. We're only a few episodes in, so naturally some characters have had more time to shine than others, but they all appear to have a lot of potential to be explored.
Most interesting in my opinion is actor Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who has come a long way since his Saved By The Bell days. He plays Mike Lawson, the team's captain and one of the few people to give Ginny a fair shot right from the start. He isn't polished and he doesn't always say the right thing, but his heart is in the right place. The friendship between Mike and Ginny is one of the most engaging aspects of the series and provides a lot of the show's comedic elements. Whether or not their bond turns into something more remains to be seen, but as it stands now it is one of the most refreshing and unique friendships on television.
The other standout is Ali Larter of Heroes fame, excellent here as Ginny's no-nonsense manager. She may appear at first to be the one-dimensional strong female in charge, but Larter's performance hints at a lot more below the surface and leaves you intrigued to see what that could be.
Kylie Bunbury's Performance Is Incredible
Kylie Bunbury is the fall season's breakout star. She gives the kind of performance that makes you wonder how you've never heard her name before. It's hard to think of another actress who has made such an incredible impression after only three episodes of a television series. In fact, from the opening moment's of the show's pilot it is clear the Bunbury is a star. She has a fierceness in her eyes and a glow that radiates outward, but she can flip on a dime and become vulnerable and insecure.
Since Pitch spends a lot of its time in the past via flashbacks, Bunbury gets to show a multitude of Ginny's different sides at once. In the past she is unsure of herself and slowly coming into her own, while in the present she is confident and much more headstrong. The character has so many layers, and Bunbury excels at portraying each and every one.
You'd be hard pressed to find a single critic who doesn't love Bunbury's performance (it's boasting a 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and isn't shouting her name from the rooftops. The field can be pretty crowded, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if Kylie Bunbury's name sneaks into awards consideration this winter. She is simply that good.
Have you seen Pitch? Did you enjoy it? Check out the trailer and leave your thoughts below, and make sure to tune in when on Thursday at 9/8c on Fox!
The last time we saw women holding their own in baseball, Mr. Tom Hanks treated us to this classic line: