With a strong plot and great characters, Pitch gets off to a good start in its pilot episode. Read more after the jump!
Pitch tells the story of Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury), the first female pitcher to ever pitch in the majors, and follows her first two games with the San Diego Padres as she tries to live up to the daunting expectations set upon her by her hordes of fans and her demanding father.
These expectations are quickly evident when she first arrives at the stadium and sees a little girl holding an “I’m Next!” sign – alluding to the resounding influence she’s having on a generation of young female baseball players. It’s especially poignant for a real-life country on the verge of possibly having their first woman president – and makes this story all the more relevant.
Through flashbacks we realize that her father – after realizing his son has no interest in baseball – has groomed her since childhood to get her to this moment. He relents that she’ll never pitch with the velocity of a man, but teaches her to throw a screwball – a pitch that if mastered, can make her just as effective. His insatiable and sometimes abusive teaching style pushes her to limits she never thought possible – though the emotional toll on her isn’t completely clear in the pilot. After every success she claims “Look what we’ve done!” to which her dad purposefully replies, “We haven’t done nothin’ yet.”
Aside from the relentless badgering from her father, Ginny is also faced with the inherent chauvinism of a professional sports locker room. It’s clear as soon as she gets there that the majority of her teammates think she’s simply a marketing move, brought in to fill seats and sell merchandise. She’s taking the place of an injured pitcher as well, and he’s none too happy about it. The clashes that take place further amplify the fact that no matter how good she is, she’s still going to have to fight for every inch.
A great supporting cast of characters including Mark-Paul Gosselaar as the grizzled MVP Mike Lawson accent Bunbury’s stellar performance. The clear chemistry between the pair should make for some interesting encounters as the season progresses. An early encounter between the two involving an butt slap sets up their relationship nicely.
The cast is rounded out with Ali Larter as Ginny’s ruthless agent. Almost too ruthless… the scene in the cab at the beginning where she mention’s “Princess Diana-ing” them is a little much, her character could be established less… forcefully. Thankfully she levels out a bit near the end of the pilot – and her will they/won’t they relationship with Mark Consuelos’ character adds a bit of fun to an otherwise serious pilot.
Bunbury’s Ginny is a great character who has clearly worked hard to get where she is. She’s a woman trying to establish herself in a man’s world with the expectations of the world on her shoulders and she plays it beautifully.
Overall, it’s a solid start to a series that could be Fox’s next big hit and Bunbury and Gosselaar shine. It will be interesting to see these relationships develop over time.
Hopefully we haven’t seen nothin’ yet.
PITCH airs tonight and then Thursdays at 9:00 PM EST on FOX.