I came into Season 3 of the hit HBO comedy Eastbound & Down as a novice viewer, not knowing exactly what I expected from the series. That’s not exactly true; any collaboration between Danny R. McBride and Observe and Report writer and director Jody Hill was bound to be raunchy and push the boundaries of ‘acceptable’ humor. We get babies stuffed into backpacks and trucks stolen from dead men, but the trajectory of Eastbound & Down: The Complete Third Season takes a far more emotional spiral than expected.
Season 3 picks up with the strange relationship between Kenny Powers (McBride) and April (Katy Mixon), who now have a one-year-old son named Toby. Kenny is adjusting to fatherhood about as well as he is adjusting to the return to life as a baseball player—this time in the minor leagues. He says he has a “big comeback planned,” but he’s too busy fucking idiot college chicks and doing blow to move very far along. When life throws him a 20 lb. lemon that wets itself, Powers has to figure a lot of crap out.
The first half of Season 3 is devoted to gleeful excess and montages of drinking and drug use. When Kenny is on this emotional ‘high’ as it were, when he lives in the moment and doesn’t think even a step into the future, there’s nothing to stop him from saying whatever pops into his head in any given moment. When Season 3 is utilizing this version of Kenny Powers, Eastbound & Down is unstoppable. The comedy may not be—more like is not—within everyone’s wheelhouse, but even when Powers is cringeworthy, it’s good to know comedy that goes to these extremes exists.
If Eastbound & Down had sailed through with this successful formula, Season 3 would be one of the wildest rides I’ve ever been on. The downward spiral of Kenny Powers is far less fun to behold, however. To see a character as bold and unconstrained as Kenny at a loss in his daily endeavors is a tough sell, and it doesn’t always make the best of its funny moments. Still, I have trouble believing viewers would be able to tear their eyes away from the screen while Season 3 unfolds its hardest scenes—by the time life gets a little crazy, audiences should theoretically already be invested or have bailed on the series.
The most recent cycle of HBO’s series boasts a slew of celebrity guest stars. Will Ferrell returns as the wigged out car dealer Ashley Schaeffer, and in one episode hires a motorcycle gang led by Craig Robinson’s Reg Mackworthy to do some dirty work. SNL and Horrible Bosses actor Jason Sudeikis signs on as Kenny Powers’ best friend and the Myrtle Beach Merman’s catcher. Even Don Johnson pops back into the plotline in Season 3 and seems to be up to his usual hijinks, by the way Kenny responds to the character.
I watched Eastbound & Down in a standard DVD format, which, according to Kenny, is a luxury. Everyone’s skin tone has a tanning bed orange tinge to it that can only be found in shows filmed in Florida. Otherwise, the picture is fine and you probably won’t even really be paying attention to the coloring (Blu-ray copies of the season are also available). Besides the picture deficiencies, the set has a ton of bonus features.
There are audio commentaries for every episode, most often with McBride and Hill and whoever else was around to chat during the episode. The guys are often unabashedly laughing at stuff they had written, but a few good stories do come up, including P.Diddy coming in to confirm the crew had chosen the right rap song for an early scene in “Chapter 20.”
“Dinner with the Schaeffers” is an extension of a scene which features Schaeffer and his crew telling crude stories. Following that are a set of deleted scenes and a slew of outtakes that are alternatively titled, “Every time someone fucked up our show.” There’s a multitude of extra scenes and funny moments, but since pretty much every scene not used is available, the quality of some of these are better than others, and they take a while to slog through.
All in all, it’s a decent set for a decent price. Right now, if you get it through Amazon, you can even get the season for a discount. Although free would be the Kenny Powers way, dirt cheap is close.
Length: 311 minutes
Distributor: HBO Studios
Release Date: 12/04/2012
Starring: Danny R. McBride, Steve Little, Katy Mixon
Directed by: Jody Hill, David Gordon Green
Created by: Ben T. Best, Jody Hill, Danny R. McBride