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‘Brockmire’ is television’s best-written comedy

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Hank Azaria stars as baseball play by play announcer "Jim Brockmire" and Richard Kind as his producer "Gus Barton" in a season three scene of IFC's dark comedy hit 'Brockmire.' When his career as a Kansas City major-league announcer imploded after a very public live on-air meltdown, Brockmire returns to call games for the minor league 'Morristown Frackers,' a team owned by "Jules James" (played by Amanda Peet). Richard Kind joins the show in season three episodes airing Wednesdays at 10:00 pm on IFC. Previous episodes are available on Hulu. Hank Azaria stars as baseball play by play announcer "Jim Brockmire" and Richard Kind as his producer "Gus Barton" in a season three scene of IFC's dark comedy hit 'Brockmire.' When his career as a Kansas City major-league announcer imploded after a very public live on-air meltdown, Brockmire returns to call games for the minor league 'Morristown Frackers,' a team owned by "Jules James" (played by Amanda Peet). Richard Kind joins the show in season three episodes airing Wednesdays at 10:00 pm on IFC. Previous episodes are available on Hulu. (Photo by Kim Simms/IFC)

If you’re not watching season three of IFC’s “Brockmire,” you’re missing one of TV’s funniest (and darkest) comedies of all time. New episodes air Wednesdays at 10 p.m. through May 22.

Richard Kind (“Spin City,” “Mad About You,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) joins the show this season as Gus Barton, the new broadcast producer for Hank Azaria’s Jim Brockmire, a severely damaged old-school whisky-voiced major-league baseball play-by-play announcer.

I should get this out of the way up front. I have a deep love for this show. Any attempt at writing a purely impartial story about it would be a waste of my time and yours.

Although baseball provides the backdrop for “Brockmire,” this is not a show about sports. I’m a virtual moron when it comes to sports. I have an appreciation for baseball but not enough to watch a show about the game. My wife loves the show too and she’s similarly sports-challenged.

If you’re not a sports fan, don’t worry. All you need to appreciate this show is a fondness for language and believable characters. It also helps to at least have a tolerance for savagely twisted humor. If you’re a sick freak like me, this show is for you.

I discovered “Brockmire” thanks to Hulu. The show’s first two seasons can be found there. You can catch up with season three via the IFC app on Roku or on demand through your cable service.

In my opinion, “Brockmire” is currently the best-written comedy on television. Show developer Joel Church-Cooper is also the principal show writer and an executive producer.

A word of caution for the uninitiated – you won’t know when the laughs will come, but when they do, they will kick you in the pants.

As Richard Kind so eloquently stated during my interview with him, “‘Full House,’ this is not.”

Without giving anything away, here’s what you need to know going into “Brockmire.”

Jim Brockmire (Azaria at his best) was a big-shot major league broadcast announcer until a couple of epic live on-air meltdowns reduced him to accepting 12 years of progressively tiny gigs, including calling cockfights for Filipino television.

When Jules James (Amanda Peet) - the owner of a rust-belt minor league team called The Morristown Frackers persuades a jaded and jittery Brockmire to move to town to become the voice of the team, he reluctantly agrees.

As Brockmire attempts to rebuild his career, he is haunted by the trail of destruction left in his wake which intensifies his drug and alcohol use. A series of flashbacks clarify the narrative as we see Brockmire’s life further spiraling out of control in the present.

Season three finds Brockmire confronting a few demons while attempting to put his life in order. In addition to Gus, he has a new broadcast partner in Tawny Newsome’s Gabby Taylor and an AA sponsor in Martha Plimpton as Shirley.

Hank Azaria is astoundingly good in the role of Brockmire. Richard Kind was there when Azaria created the character nearly 30 years ago.

“The character of Brockmire used to be a bit that Hank would do as were sitting around a poker table or having lunch somewhere,” Kind said during an interview. “It was hilarious. What amazes me is what started as a joke has evolved into this character with such depth and true human problems, but on the surface, he uses this gimmicky play-by-play announcer voice.”

Brockmire’s melodious voice never changes. Whether he’s calling a game, making love, delivering another carefully-worded diatribe to fans in the stands or killing another bottle at the town’s main bar (also owned by Peet’s character), he punches every sentence with the inflection of a classically-trained broadcaster.

Of his character, Gus, Richard Kind says he’s there to drive Brockmire nuts.

“Normally I play very annoying characters, but Gus isn’t really that way. He’s just very laid back. My character is very simple. He’s calm. I call it ‘water off a duck’s back.’ Hank’s character on the other hand is very manic and all over the place.”

During my interview with Kind, I admitted my cluelessness regarding sports. My fondness for “Brockmire” proved his theory that sports fandom is not a prerequisite for appreciating the show.  

“I’m so happy to hear that you’re not a sports fan but you still like the show. I believe the show caters to anyone who wants to listen. It’s a very interesting character that Hank has created. Believe me, I’m just parsley on a plate of meat and potatoes served up by Hank.”

My only wish, I told Kind, is that the show would produce more than eight episodes per season. “My accountant feels the same way,” he said, with perfect timing.

Since I had him on the phone, I asked Kind if he had plans to reprise his role as Dr. Mark Devanow on the soon-to-be rebooted “Mad About You,” set to return to air later in 2019, 20 years after airing its last original episode.

“I have been asked and I hope they come to fruition,” he responded, before adding a mysterious clue in connection to another show set to sign off on May 16. I’ll leave it to you to decipher its significance.

“I think the world of Paul (Reiser) and Helen (Hunt), and also John Pankow (Ira Buchman) and Leila Kenzie (Fran Devanow), whom I haven’t seen in ages. These are old friends. I live in New York now, so I don’t get to see them as much. I do hope it comes back with a big bang – and I choose those words specifically.”

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