Back in the Game: Final(?) Episode Review and Recap

In what may be an early Christmas gift to all of us, I think this is the last episode of Back in the Game that’s scheduled to air. Next week, ABC is scheduled to show re-runs of Modern Family, The Goldbergs, and The Middle before Barbara Walters is going to talk about people who fascinate her in the softest focus allowable by law. And none of the other three episodes that the network ordered are scheduled to air. So congratulations, everybody, we made it!

And what an episode to go out on, as the Angles learn they’re supposed to play on Christmas Day (what?!?), and Dick, the misogynist league president, encourages them to forfeit. Since they haven’t scored a run all year, the Angles override the objections of Coach Terry and vote to enjoy Christmas instead of getting their brains beat in.

Meanwhile, since his family never came to visit him over the holidays before, The Cannon ejects Terry and Danny from his house on Christmas so he can play poker with other old farts who don’t have any family (including a slumming Elliot Gould) and some strippers. Meanwhile, Terry is so obsessed with having a perfect Christmas for Danny that she ruins it, first by causing a mall Santa to go into diabetic shock, then getting her car towed, and then ranting to an entire Christmas party full of people about how shitty her holiday has been, and how she wants to quit Christmas like her team quit on her.

Feeling guilty, but also sensing an opportunity to get his mother the best Christmas present ever, Danny rallies his team to play, becoming the leader he expressly refused to be last week, because asking for consistency from these characters on a week-to-week basis is too much. Hearing the game is on, and realizing how lucky he is to have a family that puts up with his miserable ass, Cannon shows up to help coach. Down 21-0, with the bases loaded, Danny executes a terrible-looking two-strike bunt that brings home the Angles’ only run of the year. There is a lot of celebrating, the umpire calls the game for some reason, and then Dick inexplicably does a 180 degree turn,  and tells Terry how much he respects her wanting to play on Christmas, and that he also rescued her car from the impound lot. Terry announces this has been “the most imperfectly perfect Christmas ever”. And that’s the end of the series (maybe).

For the last time, watch:

The Cannon’s Baseball Tip of the Week:

“You never bunt with two strikes, Dingus!”

References to Real Baseball:

For the last time, no.

Age Inappropriate Things Kids Do Or Say:

“What are you getting your mom for Christmas?” Because 11 year olds really sit around and think about this shit, man.

“Looks like you don’t have the candy canes or the chestnuts to call.” – Danny, playing poker with The Cannon.

Life Lessons Learned Through Baseball:

Like Emmitt Smith said Jimmy V said, “Don’t quit. Don’t even quit.”

Continuity Problems:

“We’re playing on Christmas Day? Who the heck plays baseball on Christmas?” Good questions.

How is the woman who can’t afford to throw a birthday party for her son and who works in a pizza restaurant, and doesn’t pay her phone bill affording several hundred dollars worth of Christmas decorations.

Cannon stomps on a glass ball ornament. Great, now no one in the house can ever walk around in their socks again.

Why are there little leaguers at the big adult Christmas party?

The karaoke guy doesn’t have “Feliz Navidad.” Bullshit, every karaoke guy has “Feliz Navidad.”

After Danny bunts, the catcher tries to tag Dudley instead of stepping on the plate and ending the game.

Also, after purportedly knocks in the only run of the season, the umpire calls the game because…um…I have no idea actually. But if he’s calling the ballgame in the middle of the inning, the game is presumably a forfeit and the run doesn’t count. Which means all of this episode, nay, all of this series has been for nothing. And it has to mean something, Do you understand me? IT HAS TO MEAN SOMETHING! I DID NOT SPEND THIS MUCH OF THE BRIEF PRECIOUS TIME MY CREATOR HAS GIVEN ME ON THIS EARTH TO WATCH A SHOW THIS SHITTY ONLY TO LEARN THAT I’VE GONE THROUGH IT ALL FOR NOTHING! NOTHING! I…I…I have wasted my life. To my beautiful wife and dear children, I’m so, so sorry. I’ll never get that time back and I’ll never be able to make it up to you. Please, please forgive me.

Quotes That Sum Up the Series:

“You look like you’re wearing a giant red wooly condom.” – Lulu to a Santa-hat wearing Terry, illustrating she has never seen a condom before, which is actually kind of believable.

Danny: “You know you’re kind of obsessing over the holidays this year.” Terry: “Hey, I obsess over things.” Otherwise, this show would be about even less than it is now.

Terry: “I am obsessed with a holiday that hates me.” I’m obsessed with a show that hates me. We’re even.

Terry: “Let’s all quit. Let’s forfeit Christmas.”

The last moments are played out in slow motion, presumably so that we can get a shot of a cheering fan’s bouncing cleavage.

Final Verdict:

This is not the worst episode the show has offered, but it is so very typical of this obnoxious series. It demonstrates how far the producers of this show are willing to go to make their show aggressively crass and tasteless with the slow motion bouncing cleavage and with Danny being at the house when Cannon’s strippers (sisters named Noel, but one of them is the First Noel, and I swear I’ve heard that joke somewhere before) show up to ask where they should set up “the North Pole” and “the ping-pong balls.” It revels in the unrepentant selfishness on display as Cannon kicks his daughter and grandson out of the house so he can spend Christmas with his buddies, and how Terry won’t let the mall Santa (who probably makes $10 an hour) have a 10 minute break to pee and have a candy bar to put off his diabetic shock, and how perfectly willing Terry is to vindictively ruin her best friend’s party because of how terrible her own Christmas has been. But most of all, it is willing to turn all this bigoted, misogynist, narcissistic anger on a dime and embrace the sentimentality it hasn’t even remotely earned in the spirit of “family programming.”

Good riddance to this garbage, and to the people who made it. I hope Santa pees in your stockings and your family has a nog-fueled fistfight on your lawn.




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Mike Bates used to have a stupid pseudonym. Now he doesn't because people want to pay him to write about baseball on the Internet and he's really a sell out that way. He is also a Designated Columnist at SBNation, co-founder of The Platoon Advantage, and is an American Carpetbagger on Getting Blanked, the finest in Canadian baseball-type sites. His favorite word is paradigm. Follow him on Twitter here: http://www.twitter.com/commnman


7 Responses to “Back in the Game: Final(?) Episode Review and Recap”

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  1. Steve?! says:

    I thought there were still 2 more episodes after this?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Umpire Weekend says:

    You must have re-gifted something awful to Mr. Cameron last year to have gotten this gig.

    And all is not for naught. You did get to use the phrase “slumming Elliot Gould”.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. triple-A city says:

    I won’t miss this show, but I sure will miss the recaps. Sorry for deriving so much enjoyment from your misery, Mr. Bates!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Corey says:

    This show is an absolute train wreck, but this recap was absolutely hilarious.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Adrock says:

    Until I saw the embedded clip, I thought this was just something the author made up.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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