Season 3: Amusing but is mostly just plotting for the sake of excess and crudity (albeit sometimes funny crudity)
The previous two seasons of this show have both seen me making the same comparison and, since this show continues to repeat the same things in its third season, I shall continue to do the same. This comparison was the monster and unworthily ego-driven character of Alan Partridge, a character who in many ways Kenny Powers resembles in terms of his inability to ever just take small success with modesty and his inability to ever process the idea that he may not be as good as he thinks he is. I keep coming back to this comparison because I can never shake it off while watching and I do keep hoping that Powers will be presented with as much of a touch on him as a person as there is on him as a monster. The show has missed this trick for two seasons and in the third the lack of something like this appears to have taken its toll.
Without the pathos to accompany the excess, the show has always been about the excess and the hilarious monster of Powers and the oddballs he surrounds himself with. The first season allowed him to be hurt, the second played more to him and the third does more of the same. The plot offers lots of opportunity for weakness and cracks in the character but instead most of the season is all about the comedy excess and crudity. In and of itself this doesn't mean the show is dipping, but in this case it does because the material is not quite as strong. The plotting is solely to create these moments of excess and after a while one realises that characters will come and go as required for this. So the return of the father and the addition of the mother are only really used to inspire more swearing and sexual crudity – amusing and often got a laugh, but this is all there is to it and it does feel like the plotting was simply an excuse to do the previous two seasons again.
It is a shame because I think that Powers could have been a great character if he had been played with more going on behind his eyes, but I don't think McBride can do this; the occasional moment of self-doubt as he reaches for more ego is all we get and this is repetitive after a while because it is scripted too much. There is a lack of real character here that limits him and the show. The supporting cast are mostly split between those that provide a narrative foil for Powers and those that have their own part in the shows comedy of excess. The commitment of Steve Little cannot be questioned and he is funny in his pathetic-ness. Ferrell continues to be funny but is more obvious here than ever while the few connections to "humanity" are generally poorly served (Mixon again just kept around as a plot-device, and the finale of this seasons suggests that will be her use again in the future).
The third season of Eastbound & Down isn't terrible and if you have enjoyed the previous seasons you will likely do the same here since it is essentially the same approach with nothing much to add. For me though the lack of anything else of interest means it has worn a little thin and so much of it just seems about getting the show to where Powers can be rude and arrogant for the sake of the laugh at that scene, not a bigger picture or real understanding of his character. There are laughs here to be sure, but there are fewer than before and the lack of anything strong behind them is more obvious than ever.
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