A Film and TV Review by Tim Riley

In case you are not aware, IFC is part of the AMC cable network empire, where the currently best known series is likely the quirky “Portlandia.”  The talented Hank Azaria hopes to change that in his role of outlandish plaid-blazer wearing major league baseball announcer fired years ago during an epic on-air meltdown play-by-play of his then-wife’s adultery.

As the titular character in the sports comedy “Brockmire,” Azaria’s Jim Brockmire is either seeking redemption for his career or looking to hide out in a rust-belt Pennsylvania small town on the verge of financial collapse. After a decade-long interregnum spent wandering foreign lands, Brockmire is hired by minor league team owner Jules (Amanda Peet) to rescue the fictional Morristown Frackers from the doldrums of apathy and despair.

Jules could be the perfect match for a broadcaster on the rebound.  She’s strong-willed and hard-drinking, and Brockmire relates to that as his affinity for top-shelf booze has no bounds.The borderline suicidal and self-destructive alcoholic Brockmire soon has a sexual relationship with Jules that is invigorated mostly by an apparent connection to the Frackers having a winning streak that fills the stadium with fans eager to have something to cheer.

In the broadcast booth, Brockmire is constantly letting loose with verbal zingers that would probably get him suspended if the Frackers fan base was not equally loopy and unhinged. There are great scenes between Brockmire and his reluctant whiz kid broadcast partner Charles (Tyrel Jackson Williams), whose limited knowledge of America’s favorite pastime is a source of frustration to the veteran announcer.

Speaking to the nation’s TV critics during the recent winter press tour, Hank Azaria summed up the essence of “Brockmire” by noting that “in its own weird, alcoholic-soaked, soporific, dark, gritty, say way, this is a love letter to baseball.” Indeed, a fondness for America’s game and the willingness to enjoy the raucous humor, often profane and unsuitable for family viewing, makes the enjoyable sports comedy of “Brockmire” a rare treat for hardcore fans.