The premiere of FOX’s “Pitch” generally scored favorable marks from critics.
It also left many with a pressing question: what will this show entail moving forward?
The “Pitch” premiere introduced new Padres call-up Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury), the first female pitcher in Major League Baseball history. After utterly bombing in her first game, she looked within, rebounded, and scored a win in game two.
With a clear beginning, middle and end, the narrative could have easily served as the plot of an entertaining sports movie.
It was not, however, the plot of a sports movie. It was the first episode of a weekly television series.
How would the key storyline continue? What was next for Ginny?
One, obviously, could point out that Ginny won a single regular season baseball game: she still needed to prove the victory was not a fluke and, ultimately, lead her team to the World Series.
While true, it is doubtful such a perfectly linear approach would be compelling. We obviously care about how Ginny and the Padres progress, but it is unlikely we’ll care enough to watch fake baseball games on a week-to-week basis. To succeed, “Pitch” will need to engage viewers with more than what happens on the field.
So, again, what will this show entail moving forward?
We get our first taste Thursday night as FOX airs episode two.
Entitled “The Interim, the synopsis is as follows:
“Ginny attempts to fit in with the team, in spite of a sexist comment Al made about her years ago resurfacing. Meanwhile, Mike comes to terms with the mortality of his career and the end of his marriage, and Blip deals with fallout from Evelyn defending him to the media.”
Headline Planet screened the episode in advance of Thursday’s broadcast. Here are 7 things to expect:
Ginny may have led to the Padres to a win, but the tension associated with her arrival does not suddenly vanish.
Her position on the team continues to receive a mixed reception from players. Worse, the intense media focus is causing pressure to build and tension to boil. The players are not getting along, and the clubhouse is borderline toxic.
The team, moreover, is not playing particularly well.
Hot Seat Gets Hotter
Last week, we learned that Padres manager Al Luongo is very much on the hot seat.
His status comes under further fire this week. The media frenzy associated with Ginny’s debut continues to wreak havoc on the Padres locker room, and Al is doing little to establish order among his team.
As tension in the clubhouse grows, footage of a sexist comment Al once made about Ginny emerges. The situation gives owner Frank further reason to question Al’s fitness to lead this particular club.
Kylie Bunbury Continues To Shine
We do not know whether “Pitch” will be around for the long-term.
After two episodes, we have every reason to believe Kylie Bunbury is long for this game.
Bunbury is as effective as lead actors come in a role that is anything but easy to portray. There are no obvious quirks or shortcuts; the success of the character hinges entirely on Bunbury’s charisma and ability to convey sincere, relatable emotion.
She thrives in both regards. She comes across as an instant superstar yet has no trouble conveying the vulnerability and restraint that make “hero” characters “human” — and thus relatable to the audience.
Jimmy Kimmel Live
On the heels of her first Major League win, Ginny accepts an invitation to appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
The “Kimmel” booking calls for a light, comedic sketch in which she pokes fun at being a woman in a male-dominated clubhouse. Is that really the best use of her platform?
Ginny contemplates the question going into her appearance. Late in Thursday’s episode — when she indeed appears on “Kimmel” — we find out how she answers it.
Mike Lawson’s Challenges
Much like manager Al, team captain Mike Lawson is directly affected by the clubhouse tension. He is also responsible for uniting the team — and ideally securing victory.
And while his job may not be in jeopardy, the stakes are still significant. The catcher is entering the twilight of his career — confirmed by sore knees and a humbling workout with Ginny — and does not want to coast through his final seasons.
A mid-episode development heightens the importance of ending his career on a high note. It thus heightens Mike’s interest in making the new team dynamic work.
Ginny & Mike: A Tale Of Growing Respect
By the end of the premiere, we had reason to believe that Ginny and Mike would not have a contentious rivalry. There are some obvious sources of resentment and tension, but there is also a degree of mutual respect. Mike is definitely not Ginny’s biggest obstacle.
This week, their mutual respect continues to grow. Mike and Ginny enjoy a workout, have a frank conversation about baseball, and assert themselves in similar manners.
They are not yet best friends, but they are beginning to develop a meaningful rapport.
The premiere episode provided a window into Ginny’s relationship with her father (leading to the twist reveal that he died years ago and simply appears to her as a vision).
This week’s episode provides backstory for Ginny’s brother Will (BJ Britt) and agent Amelia.
Specifically, we see the role the characters play as Ginny’s transition from promising Minor League pitcher to Major League sensation.
“The Interim” airs at 9PM ET/PT on September 29.