Hit or Sh**: FOX’s PITCH
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
PITCH is trying to be feminist porn. Ginny Baker, portrayed evenly by Kylie Bunbury, is the first woman to play for a major league baseball team, The San Diego Padres. It’s an inspiring story that deserves to be told, yet PITCH is too caught up with its groundbreaking premise to build a fully realized world of complex characters. Instead, it’s an escape into a reality with pristine baseball diamonds and aspirational Nike gear, where the women say exactly what’s on their mind, and it goes really well. It’s all a magnificent spectacle, and it’s pretty entertaining.
Ginny is a huge deal, and PITCH makes a point of making sure we know, again and again. Crowds wait for her wherever she goes, little girls cheer her name, and every television she passes by is somehow turned on and talking about her debut game. There is even a collection of fruit and a signed card from Hillary Clinton in her hotel room.
I’m with her.
Through all of this commotion Ginny remains silently in the zone with her headphones. She only re-emerges after her competency is questioned, to deadpan to the camera “I’ve been ready my whole life,” and with lines like these, who can resist?
The dialogue isn’t very good, but it’s mostly forgivable. So what if Ginny is constantly telling us how tough she is nearly every time she speaks, repeatedly driving home a point the audience has already been slammed in the nose with? She’s had to fight her way to the top in a male dominated world. And the blame is shared equally; Ginny’s agent, Amelia (Ali Larter) is something of a power hungry archetype, albeit a delightful one. Meanwhile, Ginny’s new teammate and team captain, Mike (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) takes the cake for the most inspiringly cheesy speech of the night.
“You can’t aim your pitches if you’re aiming to please everyone” – An actual line spoken on television.
However, the premise is compelling enough to sustain an entertaining hour of television. The production value is high, and it’s shot to believably mimic (the exciting parts) of a real major league baseball game. The flashbacks, intercut throughout the episode, are predictable but well utilized, as they show Ginny’s close bond with her relentlessly tough father, who groomed her to be a champion. This only makes the final twist all the more excruciating.
But, most importantly, when she steps onto that field for the first time, I’m with her. I hold my breath when she’s at her lowest, and cheer for her to get back up (cue determined face and late night pitching session). And when she is inevitably victorious, I understand the magnitude of what this show is trying to accomplish. Ginny must pitch under the insurmountable pressure of being the first woman in major league baseball, paving the way for all the young women who will come after. She embodies a wish fulfillment for many young female athletes still struggling to achieve the same success as their male counterparts. And while It may not be the most realistic depiction of success, it’s almost impossible not to root for her.
OK, yes, you’re pretty cool.
It’s a story with an epic premise it fights to fulfill. The dialogue needs a lot of work and the pilot feels largely expositional. However, Ginny has the potential to become a compelling character, if her life is thoughtfully explored beyond baseball in the upcoming episodes, and her budding mentor-mentee partnership with Mike shows promise. It also, predictably, tugs at the heartstrings when it’s supposed to. Overall, the pilot to PITCH is a fairly entertaining hour of television, not anything more and not anything less.
Verdict: Sh** Probation
PITCH airs on FOX on Tuesdays