The first episode of The Franchise: Miami Marlins featured a shitload of F-bombs and was narrated by Don Draper, officially making The Franchise the greatest thing on TV ever.
The first episode covered Ozzie Guillen's Fidel Castro comments, the team's blowing shit up in May, their shit-the-bed June, Giancarlo Stanton's epic awesomeness, and way the fuck too much David Sampson. All in all, though, it was a pretty good first episode, if a little rushed. Here's your recap:
Miami Marlins Fuckfest 2012!: If Showtime was made for anything, it's godawful movies about call-girl confessions featuring gratuitous sex scenes and TV shows about professional baseball players who say "fuck" by the assload.
"Will you shut the fuck up so we can start?" These are the very first words uttered in the opening scene as Larry Beinfest introduces new manager Ozzie Guillen to the ballclub ("A man who can say 'fuck' in several different languages!").
Guillen starts his first meeting with the team by saying, "Half you guyz tink I'm focked up. I'm crazy. Let's get some weens for thees focking guy who pay a lot o' money for dis focking team!" In another meeting, Guillen says, "We wan people to hate this focking ballclub."
The closing credits featured Logan Morrison saying "fuck" a lot too. It was fucking great.
Ozziepalooza: One of the main reasons The Franchise: Miami Marlins had so much promise coming into this season was because this is a team filled with batshit characters -- none more so than Ozzie Guillen. The episode featured a lot of team president David Sampson, but Ozzie is without a doubt the star of the show. He's a crazy, unintelligible Batman to Samson's smarmy asshole Robin. And it works.
Ozzie has a cool mansion, a hot wife, and gives zero fucks around his bosses. When Sampson asks Ozzie if he's sticking with the struggling Heath Bell solely because they're paying him $90 million, Ozzie replies, "I ain't playing him for how much we focking pay him. Thass your focking fault."
The Unbearable Lightness of Being Heath Bell: By far the most existential moment of this opening episode was Heath Bell's battle with being a complete and utter dipshit on and off the field. The episode covered his giant contract and how he has failed to earn the big paycheck by being refried ass on the mound. And this is what reality shows like this are made for! An up-close and personal look at another human being's epic failure!
The scene where Bell goes home to his family and plays with his kids almost makes you feel like an asshole for calling him a fat fucking loser. But in another scene, he's a defensive shithead to the media, and you're like, Oh yeah, fuck that guy.
The scene where he has a heart-to-heart with Ozzie in the manager's office, after being so shitty during a game from which he was yanked before he could make things worse, was the episode's best moment. The kind of shit you see in baseball movies but never in real life.
Heath: I feel like no one has my back on this team.
Ozzie: You're focking wrong! Everyfockingbody who is Marlins fan, dey don wan you on deh mound tonight. Deh general manager, deh focking supervisors, my wife, my keeds, deh all over my ass! But I say no, he is my closer. Thass it. We not gonna win without you!
Heath: I'm not gonna let you down. [Ozzie still babbling incoherent shit] I'm not gonna let you down. [Heath leaves the room and keeps repeating himself] I'm not gonna let you down.
That's compelling television! Like The Wire, only for real!
I, for one, hope they keep the focus on Bell's plight in this series. By season's end, he'll either be a feel-good story or a Shakespearean tragedy.
HARDBALL JESUS: America was robbed of the opportunity to see the awesomeness of Giancarlo Stanton this week when he was scratched from the Home Run Derby due to a bum knee. But The Franchise did a fantastic job catching everyone up with Stanton's giant muscles and baseball-mashing ways. They explained the name change, showed him almost demolishing the home-run sculpture with one of his monster dingers, and had a gratuitous slow-mo shot of him cannonballing into a pool. Superfluous? You bet! But a shirtless wet Giancarlo Stanton is just smart television. Amirite, ladies?
After most of the episode showed Heath Bell shitting his pants, Jose Reyes struggling, and David Sampson's giant head on a tiny body, the Stanton home-run montage was heaven.
Not Enough Stuff on the Fidel Comments: Ozzie's Fidel Castro Comment-Gate thing was tailor-made for a show like The Franchise. Except that the episode seemed to zip through it, as if Showtime wasn't sure it should delve any deeper into it and wanted to tear it off like a Band-Aid and be done with it, lest the show anger old Cuban people. This was kind of a bummer because that was a serious clusterfuck of a moment for this franchise, and Showtime (and MLB) blew a golden opportunity to give us a glimpse into the whole circus, the protests, the radio interviews, and David Sampson being a total dick to anybody asking him how he felt about it all. Instead, all we got was Sampson telling Ozzie he would be suspended for five games, and an out-of-focus shot of Ozzie crying into a towel after his apology news conference. The episode also neglected to show the single greatest moment from that presser, when a reporter told Ozzie that he's pretty dumb for making such comments and Ozzie answered emphatically, "If I don learn from my mistake, then you can call me a dumb. But I'm not a dumb!"
Focking a, Ozzie.
Too Much David Sampson and Jeffery Loria: Sampson has all the makings of a reality show villain, except he's fucking boring. Sampson seems like a good dude deep down, but he also can't help being a smarmy bigheaded troll. Smarminess just oozes out of his tiny body. And while his 50-mile marathon for charity was a nice gesture, the episode spent a little too much time on his wiry Gumby body running and puking all over the South Florida streets. He looks like an adult head pasted on a little boy's body, and it's fucking off-putting. Loria, meanwhile, is a walking old ballsack who brings little value to the show other than being the guy with all the money. I want to see more ballplayers and fewer rich entitled assholes, Showtime. This isn't the Kardashians, for shitsake!
Odds & Ends
"Bitchin homer!": Gaby Sanchez hits a game-tying homer in a matchup the Marlins eventually win. The very next scene shows Marlins brass telling him he's been sent down to the minors so they can make a roster spot for Carlos Lee. Gut-wrenching. Baseball is a cruel game.
BFFs: The Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez friendship is a thing, and The Franchise wants you to know this. "We best frieng," Reyes says. "Like Dwyane Way and LeBrong!" Except that, no.
Brett Hayes Has a Hot Wife: Moar Mrs. Hayes, please!
Narration: When Showtime aired the preview episode last week, it had David Duchovny narrating with his I-don't-give-a-shit-clenched-jaw style. It was OK. Duchovny is an all-right actor and he narrates dog food commercials. He's also the X-Files guy and Californication is a pretty underrated show (a writer that gets a lot of pussy? OH, I LIKE IT.) But Showtime pulled the ol' switcheroo and had Jon Hamm narrate the episode instead, which gave it a more basebally feel and made you want to smoke cigarettes and drink an old-fashioned. Nice choice by Showtime and MLB. Don Draper is the balls.
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NEXT WEEK: Giancarlo gets selected to his first all-star game and then has to miss it to have knee surgery. Also, more F-bombs! FUCK YEAH!
The Franchise airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Showtime.