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The Franchise: “Episode Seven”

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If The Franchise were a scripted show, the first half of tonight’s episode would be setting the stage for the inevitable, cliched epic comeback that began at the end of the episode and would continue through the season finale. The team is slumping, just about everybody’s on the DL, and now’s when all the forgotten underdogs and guys who just came up group together, dig deep, find chemistry, and turn it around. Possibly set to a song like this.


However, this isn’t a scripted show. The Giants were slumping, and dudes were hurt in the first part of the episode, and they continued to slump, and more players landed on the DL in the second half of the episode. Not that I necessarily believed that our TV Giants were going to turn the ship around and win their second consecutive World Series for our benefit, but I was rather shocked to hear that next week’s episode is the season finale. (I could have known this ahead of time but reviewing shows like American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, I get lulled into a sense that television shows will last for six months out of the year.) I’m sure there are practical, networky/MLB-y reasons for the duration of the season, but doesn’t it feel strange that the TV series will be ending so much sooner than the baseball season? I’m trying to think of a satisfying way that The Franchise can end gracefully without feeling like an abrupt pull-out.

Anyway, once again, we’re left wondering what really goes on inside a clubhouse when team morale is low. Bruce Bochy says “all right” a lot, and Matt Cain gets his hair cut in an impotent attempt to turn the tide, but we don’t really see what the players talk about or how the coaches try to motivate them as their season slips out of their control. This has been the biggest failing of the series: We got to know the players but very little about the business of baseball.

But if you couldn’t get into tonight’s human interest side of the episode, then you, sir (or madame) have no soul. Witness Kristen Posey, ripe with childs, well up as she predicts what a wonderful father her husband will be, even after the all the time she’s spent waiting on him as he recovers from the injury that keeps him from the team. Or, are you some kind of monster? Were you not touched by Barry Zito and his fiancee holding his ailing father’s hands as they talked about how wonderful the two of them were? Actually, as a father-son duo, Barry and Joe Zito are two pretty amazing people, but the TV critic side of me says it’s lucky that so many interesting people play for the Giants, or else The Franchise would have been especially dull this season.

Stray observations:

  • If anything, I hope the season turns around for ol’ Brandon Belt.
  • Based on the clips of Barry Zito’s musings at the end of the episode, I can’t tell whether or not he’s a cool dude or kind of pretentious and annoying.
  • There were a lot of cute little dogs in this episode.

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