Take Me to the Pilots '16: Fox's 'Pitch'

Pitch S01E01 Still - Publicity - H 2016
Ray Mickshaw/FOX

Pitch S01E01 Still - Publicity - H 2016

[I'll remind you at the top of every single one of these: These entries are not reviews. They're gut reactions to not-for-air pilots that could change in big and small ways between now and September or October or midseason. Full reviews will come then. They'll be longer. And more carefully considered. The opinions may even change. Who knows?]

Show: Pitch (Fox)
The Pitch: Ha. The "Pitch." See ... the main character is a pitcher.
Quick Response: Perhaps not a home run, but surely a solid double, Fox's new "first female major leaguer" drama Pitch is sure to spawn an endless string of evaluative baseball analogies, so I'll stop here. If you want to quibble or find nits to pick with the treatment of baseball in Pitch, you'll be able to, although MLB is an eager collaborator. But even if you're capable of distinguishing a screwball from a circle change and the difference between the two pitches bugs you, Pitch still has a reasonable amount of authenticity and will likely be the only pilot in our lifetime that aims to suggest John Smoltz can act. Creator Dan Fogelman and pilot director Paris Barclay want the baseball stuff to play with minimal distraction and, relatively speaking, I think it does, but their interest is much more in earned sentimentality and I definitely cried at least twice in the first 43 minutes. I am, of course, an utter sap when it comes to sports movies, but I'm hardly the only sap out there. It helps that relative unknown Kylie Bunbury is the real deal, shining throughout a pilot that asks a lot of her, both physically and emotionally. If Bunbury's Ginny had looked ridiculous on the mound, the show falls apart and any credulity I lost came more from Barclay's framing and aesthetic choices in the baseball action, rather than the performance. Occasionally verging on unrecognizable, Mark-Paul Gosselaar is a real asset, effectively playing the Crash Davis — if Crash were an all-star — to Ginny's Nuke LaLoosh and making his character cocky, but also interestingly pragmatic and giving a couple well-delivered speeches. I also liked supporting work from Ali Larter, Meagan Holder, Dan Lauria and Bob Balaban, plus a couple others. My fear: After watching the pilot, I don't know where else the story needs to go, much less how it structures on a weekly basis, much less how the pilot-ending twist does or doesn't matter and if the treatment of said twist is likely to bug me.
Desire to Watch Again: High. This was a pilot I had hopes for and I was mostly satisfied, but it sure might have helped to give a bit more indication of what comes next, so I'll hope that comes soon.

Take Me to the Pilots '16: CBS' 'Kevin Can Wait'
Take Me to the Pilots '16: NBC's 'The Good Place'
Take Me to the Pilots '16: ABC's 'Designated Survivor'
All of My 2015 Take Me to the Pilots Entries