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Eastbound & Down: The Complete Fourth & Final Season (Blu-ray Review)

eastbound and down s4 whysoblu coverI have been a huge fan of HBO’s comedy series Eastbound & Down and the ridiculous, foul-mouthed anti-hero character that is Kenny Powers since the beginning.  I know some people are not big fans of Danny McBride, but I find him hilarious and this show, which he is heavily involved in the production of, was a perfect way to harness his comedic energy over the years.  The fourth season was an unexpected one, given the finality of its third, but dammit if McBride and co-creators Jody Hill & Ben Best didn’t find a way to make a truly glorious final season for the series.  Eastbound & Down was always the story of a former baseball player and all-around horrible guy coming to terms with evolving for the better as a person, but in the craziest ways possible, making it plenty entertaining.  Now the final season is available on Blu-ray for all to see…or better yet, the whole series is now f***kin’ out!

Series: 

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The beginning of the final season of Eastbound & Down finds Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) in a very uncomfortable place.  Following his decision to back away from the stardom that his return to the MLB would have created, in exchange for a chance to be with April (Katy Mixon) and his child, Kenny is now dealing with that life.  Living in the suburbs as a married man and father of two, Kenny has a life he clearly considers boring, but a chance run-in with ex-teammate Guy Young (Ken Marino) leads to Kenny becoming a big presence on a sports-themed TV talk show.  Now Kenny must balance what it is to be back on top, as far as fame goes, with plenty to consider, given his relationship to April, let alone other key figures in his life, such as his ‘best friend’ Stevie (Steve Little).

This Blu-ray set contains all 8 episodes from the fourth season, which are simply titled, “Chapter 22” through “Chapter 29.”  Given that every episode somewhat functions as a tie-in to the book Kenny has been developing throughout the series, via audio recordings, which he would presumably then turn into a screenplay that could become the biggest motion picture ever…in Kenny’s eyes, I guess it is fine that the episode titles are not more specific.  That said, while these episode titles may be fairly bland, the series is anything but.

Something that has always made Eastbound & Down work for me is its commitment to the universe it exists in.  Kenny Powers is larger than life and so are many of the characters around him.  It would be one thing to have Kenny be a cartoon character, in a world where everyone else exists in a plausible reality, but that really is not the case.  Aside from some grounded characters, the supporting cast is all pretty crazy and completely fitting and game to be a part of what Kenny would call his world.  Because of that, I believe that is why it is easier to embrace the comedy that can come from darker or very politically incorrect places, while continuing to praise Kenny as a hero or anti-hero so easily.

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With Kenny in mind, Danny McBride does some terrific work here.  Whether playing big or small, there is a lot to admire in how McBride makes this character work.  Even while Season 2 may mark the peak of the emotionally complicated work that he had to do for the role, the character is still plenty fun here, with some of the biggest laughs of the series coming from some of the crazy things he does in this fourth season.  It helps plenty to find Kenny amidst a cast of supporting actors that are all completely game for the antics that take place.

Katy Mixon is one of the lone voices of reason as April, but she does bring a nice warmth to a series that can edge on veering too far into extreme territory.  Steve Little is just a ridiculous find all together, given the situations this show puts his Stevie character into, which is a far cry from where he started in the first season.  New additions like Jillian Bell and Tim Heidecker are certainly a lot of fun as well, but it is Ken Marino who stands on top as the best new character for Kenny to have to deal with.  With Guy Young, this is a man who unravels in a more convincing manner than The Governoron The Walking Dead, when it comes to seeing a villain truly emerge and feel like a fitting counter to our protagonist.  Ken Marino shines in roles like these, as he can be mean, but still hilarious, which is the kind of balance that Eastbound & Down is constantly great at.

Additionally, between Jody Hill and David Gordon Green, Eastbound & Down has always stuck out as the one of the best directed comedies on television.  Between the camera work, the editing, and the fantastic soundtrack choices, this is a series that is not just about punchlines, but really creating a cinematic experience to go with the crazy life of Kenny Powers.  Given that Hill and McBride recently sold a new show to HBO, I can only hope that it continues to evolve the style that they created for this series.

So this is the final season of Eastbound & Down and while I do not know if it is the best (honestly I have no idea which season I like most), it certainly continues the hilarity that has been steadily coming since the very first episode.  I would easily suggest you start at the beginning, if you are new to this series, but those just now catching up with the final season, Kenny Powers very much knows how to go out with a bang.

Video: 

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: This is an HBO series and as such, the quality of this Blu-ray package is quite strong.  With regards to the clarity of this video presentation, Eastbound & Down does a fine job combining the suburban life and exterior imagery with the glitz and glamor supposedly seen in the talk show segments.  Detailing looks rather excellent throughout.

Depth:  Fairly evident, if only because this show likes to feature lots of characters bouncing around scenes constantly, given the editing rhythms and how active a show the series tends to feel like.  The lack of baseball scenes this season does eliminate a certain aspect of the series, but there is so much going on that you can still feel a lot happening, which makes the depth feel so evident.

Black Levels:  Black levels are strong and deep.

Color Reproduction: There is actually a lot of color for this show that emphasizes a man trying to improve upon his ‘drab’ life and because of that, it is easy note how well represented this show feels in terms of its Blu-ray presentation.

Flesh Tones:  Facial textures all seem well handled, with a natural and realistic look throughout.

Noise/Artifacts:  Tiny moments here and there, when it comes to the talk show stuff, but nothing that really bogs down this presentation too much.

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, Latin Spanish 2.0 DTS Digital Surround

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Latin Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish

Dynamics: The strong mix is handled in a way that provides plenty of diversity to the audio presentation of a show that is primarily a talky comedy.

Low Frequency Extension: There are a number of moments, based around the show’s direction that lead to the LFE channel getting a lot of play, which makes for a better overall experience, in terms of keeping the viewer really involved.

Surround Sound Presentation:  There is plenty of range for this audio track, which manages to incorporate the soundtrack choices, sound effects, dialogue, and other aspects very well, without feeling too center-channel focused.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is always clear and properly represented, as that is this show’s strongest asset.

 

Extras:

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Given that this was the final season, it would have been nice to get a look back at the series as a whole, but as it stands, having a commentary for every episode is good enough, as they are hilarious to listen to.

Features Include:

  • Audio Commentaries – There is one for every episode.  All 8 feature Danny McBride and Jody Hill, with many of the actors coming in and out, including Steve Little, Ken Marino, Jillian Bell, Tim Heidecker, and Elizabeth de Razzo, the actress that plays Stevie’s wife and could not be more different than her.
  • Deleted Scenes – A large collection of deleted scenes from the whole season, very well worth watching.
  • Outtakes – A good 11 minutes of people messing up and having fun with it.
  • Season 3 Recap
  • UltraViolet Copy of the Season

Summary:

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I love Eastbound & Down and will miss it in a way.  That said, the show reached a fitting conclusion (twice) and I look forward to seeing what McBride, Hill, and company come up with next.  Given that I now have every season on Blu-ray, I will be happy to revisit this show plenty of times in the future.  For this particular set, while not a ton of extras, the commentaries are a lot of fun and the video/audio presentations are awesome.  Do yourself a favor and find out if this show is for your or just complete your collection with this final season.

Order Your Copy Here:

 
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Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS4.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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