September 22, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Pitch”


PITCH:  Thursday 9PM on FOX – Potential DVR Alert

Dan Fogelman is a busy man.  He’s not only the creator of This Is Us, which debuted strongly two nights ago, he’s also co-creator (with Rick Singer) of the buzzy PITCH.  And gues what, this pilot has a twist in its final moments too. The Pitch twist is the more annoying of the two, because while This Is Us‘s at least set up the structure of the show going forward, the reveal in Pitch feels utterly random and unnecessary, like it was thrown in after a network note to “make the ending, you know, bigger.”

It’s too bad, too, because up to that point, Pitch had been one of the most assured of the pilots we’ve seen so far.  You already know the concept, if you’ve been anywhere near TV promos since May:  when we meet her, Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury) is about to become the first female Major League Baseball player in history, on her way to join the San Diego Padres as a starting pitcher thanks to her fiendish screwball.  (Pitch can use real team names and trademarks because it’s been made in partnership with the league itself, which may be both a good and a bad thing going forward.)  Most of the baseball pros around her think she’s no more than a stunt, very much including her old-school coach, Al Luongo (Dan Lauria).  She does have support from old friend and new teammate Bip Sanders (Mo McRae) and her tough-as-nails agent Amelia Slater (Ali Larter), and the team’s star Mike Lawson (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) is somewhat mockingly in her corner as well.  Mostly, though, it’s her tough-love father Bill (Michael Beach) who inspires her and, as flashbacks illustrate, has gotten her where she is.

The Pitch pilot, directed by Paris Barclay, makes good use of the scale permitted by the show’s permission to use real stadiums, and it hits the right tone of inspirational drama laced with touches of humor.  Bunbury has an effective quiet intensity and enough charisma to make Ginny’s stardom convincing, and Gosselaar and Larter play their familiar roles with commitment.  The script covers a lot of ground quickly–in fact it basically tells the story that one would expect in a feature film that was based on this premise.  That leaves somewhat open where the series will go from here, and whether it has more in its pocket than to take the saga down a soapy path that (probably inevitably) includes romance for Ginny.

That remains to be seen, as is the amount of creative freedom Major League Baseball will allow in a series it authorizes.  For now, Pitch does what a pilot is supposed to, establishing a compelling central character in a distinctive setting, and surrounding her with figures who at least have the potential to create drama with and around her.  If it can just leave well enough alone and not trick things up with twists that amount to counterproductive late inning pitching changes, it could reach the TV postseason.

NETWORK FINAL:  Makes Contact.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."