Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Bronx is Burning My Eyes and Ears

I have seen the first three episodes "The Bronx is Burning" miniseries and it is a folly on every level. Of course, I will be watching the remaining 5 episodes

Reasons I Hate "The Bronx is Burning"

1) I'm sure that I am in the minority among sports fans, but sports movies rarely work for me. Besides boxing films, which work because they frequently double as character studies of compelling individuals, I can only think of a handful of rewatchable sports movies. In baseball, you have a 25 man roster, a manager, several coaches, a GM, and an owner. It's a bit too much ground to cover (even for what amounts to a 6 hour miniseries). So you end up with very little Ron Guidry (ace of the staff), Graig Nettles, and no Sparky Lyle (a total character and 1977 Cy Young Award winner!). You can't very well tell the story of that season without those guys.

2) The team is portrayed as a bunch of complete shitheads. Fran Healy is the only person, who comes off looking good in this series. Others are portrayed as follows...
- Reggie Jackson - A completely self-absorbed asshole
- Billy Martin - An insecure drunk with Elijah Dukes's temper
- George Steinbrenner - A pompous ass
- Thurman Munson - A curmudgeonly prick, who jealously guarded his leadership role from newcomers
- Mickey Rivers - A dim-witted, jive-talkin deadbeat gambler
- Yogi Berra - A mongoloid (especially irritating, because his "stupidity" was a carefully crafted bit)

I am not saying that these characterizations are entirely untrue. However, the show is so heavy-handed in its caricaturization that it is impossible to sympathize with any of these men. I'm giving you 8 hours of my time; a little nuance is all I ask.
3) The show's attempt to tie the 1977 Yankees into the larger social context of New York City is specious at best. The Son of Sam, the blackout, and the mayoral race were coincidental with the season, not interconnected. Aware of the flimsy connections, the writers cut to shots of Steinbrenner, Martin, or Jackson reading the newspaper or watching television as these issues are being discussed. Very weak.
4) Most importantly, I hate the performances. John Turturro falls into, and out of, a Southern accent throughout the series. Billy Martin was born and raised in Northern California, but apparently that accent is not in John Turturro repertoire. It's as if Turturro knows he has to neutralize his Brooklyn accent, so he just runs with the first non-New York voice he can come up with. Next week, he might sound like a pirate, or a Pakistani, or perhaps Johnny Carson.
Somehow, the dude that plays Reggie, manages to make Jackson boring. He displays little of the cocksure swagger that made Reggie such a fun and controversial figure. I never for a second feel like I'm watching Reggie Jackson.
The guy that plays Thurman Munson has yet to change the expression on his face or the tone of his voice in the first three episodes. Unfortunately this is only a miniseries, so he can't make a run at Benjamin McKenzie's record of holding the same note for three consecutive seasons on "The O.C.". Worse still, is that the actor lacks the mass of chest hair, billowing out of the top of his jersey. That should have been a prerequisite, when casting Munson.
The show sucks and is destined to continue to suck. However I am still going to watch it, if only so I can complain about it. This can not be healthy.


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truthspeaker said...

Its the Yankees we're talking about. Who said there's been anything likeable about them whatsoever in the past 40 years.

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