Well, they can’t all be circuits.
In 1992 America fell in love with the Rockford Peaches again. Once the winningest team in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) — which began during World War II and lasted until 1954 — the Peaches inspired Penny Marshall. A league aparta fictional account of the league’s first year.
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Three decades later, A league apart is widely regarded as one of the best sports films ever made, one that holds a special place in the hearts of LGBTQ audiences who have been drawn in by its eclectic cast of stars, lovable characters, and barely hidden queer subtext. Which is why it’s no surprise that the nostalgic favorite is the latest to get the reboot treatment, arriving on Amazon Prime Video next month as an hour-long drama series.
Of course, this won’t be the Peaches’ first televised trip around the bases…
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ride high A league apart’After critical acclaim and strong box office performance in 1992, Sony was quick to greenlight a half-hour spin-off series on CBS for the following spring. With TV legend Marshall and the film’s writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel on board as executive producers, the sitcom was meant to pick up where things left off, more or less, after the ongoing adventures of the movie. team and its beloved players, but with (mostly) different players.
But it seems fans weren’t thrilled with the extra innings. The reviews were poor (The Miami Herald called it “miserable”) and viewership continued to drop during its first three episodes, which aired in April 1993 – so much so that the network waited to dump the next pair of episodes during the scorching days of August, and left a sixth entirely unaired. .
So where did CBS go A league apart be mistaken? Let’s play ball and talk…
His first takedown was the obvious fact that the TV cast couldn’t compare to the movie heavyweights. Replacing Geena Davis as star receiver Dottie Hinson was the former License to kill “Bond girl” Carey Lowell, one of the biggest names on the show at the time. In fact, the whole crew looked different, except for Megan Cavanaugh as tomboyish Marla Hooch and Tracy Reiner as widowed Betty Horn.
Without stars like Davis or Madonna or Lori Petty or Rosie O’Donnell around to play ball, audiences struggled to invest in the Peaches on TV, even though they were technically the same team. The sitcom arrived so soon after the film that its iconic performances were still fresh in everyone’s mind. The recruits barely had a chance.
(In particular, Tom Hanks did return to the Leaguebut only behind the camera as director of the third episode – veteran TV actor Sam McMurray reprized his role as cynical manager Jimmy Dugan).
The second strike was the fact that the show was never sure how to position itself. It was a much more traditional time for television, before streaming broke all network rules, and A league apartThe 30-minute runtime meant it was classified as a sitcom. That should make sense, given that the film was well-regarded for its sense of humor, but it also deftly moved into dramatic territory, addressing sexism and the realities of life in wartime. The series attempted the same tonal balance, but ended up feeling it.
It was an “identity crisis” The Hollywood Reporter said at the time. “It’s either a sitcom full of dramatic elements or a drama full of sitcom elements. Either way, that doesn’t give you much reason to like it. Again, we’re used to television that toe that line these days, but the confusion of genres made it hard for people in the 90s to encourage peaches on the small screen.
The third shot? Well, that’s a bit more subjective, and that’s where that extended metaphor starts to fall apart, admittedly. Was it as simple as a bad time slot, airing at the wrong time of the week in the face of fierce competition? Or was it something more? How about the fact that in the early 90s, television, especially the sitcom, was still considered a “man’s game”, much like the critical realm that quickly made the rounds of the show.
In 1993, film and TV star Tracy Reiner, daughter of Penny Marshall, was very candid when she spoke with The Washington Post on the show’s uphill battle: “The sitcom is a male medium, and we don’t want to lose the esteem these women deserve. They were really successful women at a time when the world was not going well. Because of men… It makes me understand what my mother went through [when she starred on Laverne & Shirley in the ’70s and ’80s].”
We’ll also consider this notion that maybe (just maybe) the CBS version of A league apart was bad – an old regular foul ball. Even with some of the film’s creative talent behind it, it’s possible the whole thing was rushed into production too quickly. And, hey, TV is tough. In the words of Jimmy Dugan:If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.”
You are outside!
Fortunately, it looks like the one from Amazon A league apart work hard. Returning to the first year of the AAGPBL, the series aptly introduces an exciting new generation of characters, led by vast cityis Abbi Jacobsen and Roxanne Roxanne‘s Chanté Adams—as we watch this version of the Rockford Peaches find their magic. With hour-long episodes, there’s also hope than that League will better capture the tone of the film, exploring new stories about racial inequality and queer awakenings while maintaining a sharp sense of humor. Oh, and did we mention Rosie’s back? Let’s play ball!
A league apart will have its season opener on Amazon Prime Video on August 12.
For those curious about A league apart 1993 series, three of its episodes are included as bonus features in Sony’s Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD collection. And, for those who are a little less demanding on quality, *hint, hint* the are some low-res versions of episodes uploaded to YouTube.
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