Hank Azaria as Jim Brockmire, Tawny Newsome as Gabby Taylor – Brockmire _ Season 3, Episode 8 – Photo Credit: Kim Simms/IFC

Let’s get this out of the way: season three of Brockmire is the show’s worst season to date. As jarring of a that previous statement is, I still loved the third season and still believe it’s a show that is in discussion as the best show on television. Those two usually mutually exclusive realities make writing this review a pretty excruciating endeavor. Before getting into a review (feel free to scroll down), let’s attempt to rewind a bit in an effort to reconcile those two thoughts.

Season one of Brockmire may end up being viewed as historically good television. Season two purposefully went in another direction and should be considered a significant achievement given the dramatic overhaul of setting, tone, and characters. Viewers certainly enjoyed the sophomore effort, but the consensus was the amount of moving pieces and, more specifically, the more serious and introspective tone may have been a bit of a premature rebuild.

Season three is more of the same with a new setting, new characters (a lot of them!), new challenges, new enemies, and new ambitions. The moving pieces don’t all fit snugly (a few don’t seem to fit at all), and viewers will likely ding season three as another season of decline for the show. While that’s a valid takeaway, I came away with a sense of optimism about the future of the show.

I’m of the thought Brockmire has successfully navigated the rebuilding phase of the show’s arc and is set up quite nicely for a really impressive final few seasons. Perhaps that’s wishful thinking, but the show has done some necessary and tricky maneuvering that may have cost the show a bit of momentum in the short term, but has navigated Brockmire to a less entangled place in terms of his career, alcoholism, relationships, and both personal and professional ambitions. Perhaps the rebuilding process of Brockmire after such a beloved first season was done too prematurely (a second season without as many moving parts may have better served the series), but ultimately, the show needed to do some of this heavy lifting now to allow for a return to a breezier place in future seasons.

With that out of the way, here are some thoughts on a pretty stellar third season with mild spoilers.

What to expect

Brockmire now finds himself step higher on his road to professional ambition, working for an MLB team, but limited to spring training. Season three exclusively stays in Florida for spring ball and you can bet your ass there are plenty of good Florida jokes peppered throughout.

What’s changed

Beyond the setting, the biggest shift is in the supporting characters. Both Jules and Charles return, but in much more limited roles. It’s unclear if we’ll see them return in larger roles down the road. While season two focused on Brockmire opting to seek sobriety, season three follows that up by focusing on his quest to stay sober.

What’s new

So much that, honestly, it’s a bit jarring. Brockmire gains a new frenemy, a new love interest, a new pet, a new producer, a new family member, and most importantly, a new on-air partner.

What works

Obviously, the jokes continue to hit paydirt in a big way. In my opinion, Brockmire‘s comedy operates in a class by itself.

Beyond that, Tawny Newsome is a revelation as Jim’s new on-air partner, Gabby Taylor. Newsome brings a lot of stability, chemistry, and worthwhile storylines to the table. Martha Plimpton is also a welcomed addition, serving as Brockmire’s sponsor who often puts Brockmire back together at his lowest moments during the season.

JK Simmons delivers some of the best scenes of the season and served as the much needed glue that held a bit of a messy third season together.

What didn’t work

I love Richard Kind, but he never really gets traction as Gus, Brockmire’s new broadcast producer. There are a few moments and lines that pop but he’s someone that really didn’t pan out much as a new character.

Likewise, episodes four and five are a bit of a boondoggle in the middle of the season that I’m not sure added much. We get to meet Brockmire’s mom and oh boy is there quite a story there, but that storyline just completely disappears from the rest of the season.

What made things a bit messy

The writers juggled a few too many balls this season and the end result is a lot of characters and story arcs ended up being pretty half baked. Significant storylines and characters come and go on a whim, often diverting attention and time away from some of many successful components of the show. This is ultimately where season three will disappoint some folks, because for the first time in the show’s history, there is some noticeable fat that didn’t get trimmed off and was placed in front of you on purpose. Most of the season is quite delicious, but it’s hard to ignore a few ideas that really took us off course along the way.

What made me laugh out loud 

I rarely laugh out loud when I’m by myself, but this season certainly had me in stitches, including the following.

  • Brockmire and JK Simmons’ character doing some intimate role playing.
  • Some colorful discussions about Charles’ sexual proclivities.
  • A rogue circus pig/pigs?
  • A constant flow of Florida jokes.
  • A trip down memory lane with Bob Costas.

What I took away from this season 

Brockmire showed it had bigger ambitions as a show last season, and didn’t just solely rely on sharp dialogue and crass humor. Fusing together those core strengths with large doses of heavier topics like sharp social commentary and personal growth and spirituality is aiming for the smallest of bullseyes.

Season three doesn’t exactly hit the mark, but it felt like the last few episodes inched closer to that bullseye. With the show already renewed for a fourth season, I think all of the characters and pieces are in place for a very rewarding final run on the show’s back half. This season’s backdrop of spring training, a place to iron out the kinks and figure out your identity, doubled as the show’s testing ground for a new direction. While it didn’t all go as planned, it seemed that the show exited season three on a good trajectory going forward.

About Ben Koo

Owner and editor of @AwfulAnnouncing. Recovering Silicon Valley startup guy. Fan of Buckeyes, A's, dogs, naps, tacos. and the old AOL dialup sounds