Sport on TV: Ferrell beast on loose as Kenny plumbs depths of his powers

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The Independent Online

One of the many great things about cricket is that you don't have to be fit to play it. In fact you can even be something that sounds a lot like "fit". Just look at Tim Bresnan. He saunters into the England side, smashes the Aussies around the park without the need to run very much between the wickets, snacks on a few flying ants as he runs in to bowl. So England were thrashed in the Champions Trophy semi-final (Sky Sports 1, Friday) but the burden of blame does not rest with him, he can reflect over a beer or five afterwards.

Baseball takes this leeway to bursting point. Not only are its heroes often well-padded but they sometimes seem to be one short, breathless step away from being complete slobs. Welcome to the world of Kenny Powers, a retired Major League pitcher in the highly amusing comedy Eastbound & Down (FX, Thursday).

Allegedly and loosely based on the politically incorrect Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker, this six-part series tells the story of Powers' return to his home town after a spell in rehab, whereupon he discovers that he is not the superstar he thinks he is.

He calls himself the man who "changed the face of baseball", and it's not clear why, although it seems more likely to be "rearranged the face of baseball" as he battles anger-management issues and various addictions.

He takes a job as a supply PE teacher at his old school but his pupils are distinctly underwhelmed. When he begins by asking if they have any questions, they wonder: "Is it true that steroids make your balls shrink?"

The one thing that will never shrink, however, is Powers' immense ego, which he regularly pumps up by listening to his own-brand motivational tape called "You're Fucking Out! I'm Fucking In!". This provides him with a continuous stream of mottos for life, such as "Surrender is death, and death is for pussies".

The series is the creation of Danny McBride, who plays Powers, and Ben Best but it's no surprise to find that Will Ferrell is involved in the writing and producing of the show – with 'Talladega Nights' and 'Blades of Glory', about motor-racing and ice-skating respectively, he seems to specialise in sporting subjects these days. Unending tirades of profanity, obsession with anatomical references... the familiar themes are all there and it's wickedly funny. This baseball is really base.

Retired cricketers tend to just make the short trip up to the commentary box. Watching the Champions Trophy, it occurred that there might be nothing in the world that invites more descriptive language than a cricket shot. The ball can be stroked, smashed, dabbed, lofted, even finessed... but commentators are fast running out of superlatives to describe Ricky Ponting, so surely it must be time for him to retire.

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