Emmy spotlight: Hank Azaria and his blunt sense of humor on ‘Brockmire’ are brilliant for Season 3

Hank Azaria is unquestionably one of the most versatile actors working today and now he’s gotten to show a whole lot of that talent in the most recent season of his IFC series “Brockmire.” Season 3 has seen the titular baseball announcer having to navigate the same problems he’s had for the previous two seasons, only now he’s given up drugs and alcohol. He portrays it in way that strikes the perfect balance of being pompous and egotistical while also being sincere and positive. WARNING: Spoilers for “Brockmire” are listed below

Azaria has several episodes that show this off brilliantly. His best example would be the season finale, “Opening Day.” It’s opening day and the first pro-game that Jim is calling in years and everything is going wrong. He’s having issues with reading the count, his current girlfriend dumps him, he finds out an old girlfriend is getting married, an old foe has launched protests against him, one of those protesters smears his trademark jacket with excrement and the dry cleaner loses the jacket. All of this causes Jim to plead with Baseball God to, “grant [him] a respite from this tornado of sh**” that’s encircled him.

He soon finds himself at a bar but before he takes a drink, he calls his sponsor only to realize that she is already plastered in the same bar (the always wonderful Martha Plimpton). Jim doesn’t despair. Rather, he sees it as a form of divine intervention and that he’s exactly where he’s supposed to be. He goes back to the ballpark, sponsor in tow, and he proceeds to call the game beautifully with his colleague, Gabby (Tawny Newsome). With speeches, emotion and a very blunt sense of humor, this is the kind of episode that was made for Emmy submissions. It also just happens to great television as well.

Several other episodes also demonstrate the immense skill that Azaria has in bringing Jim Brockmire to life. The season’s fourth episode, “Banned for Life,” sees Jim having to be honest with his sister about how their estranged mother is a terrible person who’s never respected her. It’s heartbreaking because Jim knows he might lose his sister, who has helped get him sober, but he understands that part of sobriety is honesty regardless of the cost. Another is the seventh episode, “Disabled List,” in which Jim has an emotional talk with his longtime foe, Matt Hardesty (J.K. Simmons), who is dying of cancer. At first their conversation focuses on how they don’t believe there’s anything after you die and existence is pointless but then it veers into an appreciation of the beauty of baseball. In the end, both find solace in the idea of their beloved game being a higher power.

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