Review of the “A League of Their Own” series: Nearly a home run
The Prime Video series of the same name adapts the 1992 film “A League of Their Own” for the small screen.
The outcome is passably entertaining and ought to appeal to enthusiasts of nostalgia, but it’s not quite a home run.
“A League of Their Own,” which is currently available for streaming, is based on the same plot as the Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell, Madonna, and Jon Lovitz movie. The series is set in 1943 and follows the Rockford Peaches, a women’s team in the brand-new All American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was established because World War II has threatened the continuation of Major League Baseball with men away fighting overseas. It was created by Will Graham (“Mozart in the Jungle”) and Abbi Jacobson (“Broad City”), who also stars.
Carson Shaw (Jacobson) takes a train from Idaho to Chicago for baseball tryouts at the start of the series. She encounters and befriends fellow baseball aspirants Greta (D’Arcy Carden, “The Good Place”) and Jo while on her journey (Melanie Field).
There isn’t a direct translation from the film. Carson is a housewife-turned-catcher with a husband who is away at war, similar to Geena Davis’ role, but with a different name, no sister, and a plot that explores her sexual orientation (not in the movie). As their coach, Nick Offerman plays Tom Hanks, except he is Dove Porter rather than Jimmy Dugan and he is not a cynical alcoholic. Even though the characters are pulled together by the game, many other narrative lines are still present, such as dealing with media and fans who are dubious, wearing unpractical uniforms (“We can’t play in skirts!” they argue), and various confrontations between the characters. Comedic appearance by original star Rosie O’Donnell as a bartender.
In comparison to its big-screen predecessor, “A League of Their Own” also explores racial and LGBTQ+ topics in greater depth. Due to their color, two black women who are attending tryouts—pitcher Max Chapman (Chante Adams) and her best friend Clance Morgan (Gbemisola Ikumelo)—are instructed to “go on home.” Meanwhile, Carson and Greta’s romance quickly becomes flirtatious. These components add depth to the narrative and demonstrate why a film like this may be turned into a television series because it incorporates themes from both.
But even though they are appreciated, these characteristics cannot guarantee a victory. While Max’s story is mainly segregated from the rest of the plot, much of the pacing has the meandering feel of a particularly dull baseball inning, which frequently gives the impression that the program is waiting for time until the stories coincide.
A lot of the conversation is also unsettlingly contemporary (Carson’s speech is laced with “like” and “I mean” as well as expressions like “super-excited!”). It seems as though “A League of Their Own” is unsure of whether it wants to feel like it is rooted in the World War II era or would rather be a modern series that merely has some window-dressings of the era but otherwise shrugs it off. While anachronisms work in some shows as a deliberate choice (“Dickinson,” for example), here they come across as ambivalent.
It’s worth tuning in for movie enthusiasts. It’s also a decent movie for anyone seeking a dramedy about women playing baseball in the 1940s that doesn’t skirt sensitive subjects like race and sexuality. The entire cast is endearing, and the problems they face seem timely. However, it’s also jerky and uneven, giving off the impression that the show is trying to find its tone as it goes along.