Sports have been described as the ultimate reality show. Maybe that’s why we find reality series about sports so compelling.
On Wednesday, July 13, at 10pm ET, Showtime calls a new documentary series up to the majors with The Franchise: A Season With the San Francisco Giants, a joint effort of Showtime and MLB Productions. This series embeds a camera crew with the reigning World Series champs, capturing what happens on and off the field with the players, coaches and front-office personnel. The series airs for six consecutive Wednesdays.
Viewers will get an inside-the-clubhouse look at what goes into making a world champion, as well as the colorful personalities that make up the team. The stellar pitching rotation includes 2008 and ’09 NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez and Matt Cain. The lineup includes fan favorites like 3B “Kung Fu Panda” Pablo Sandoval and OF Aaron Rowand, and 2010 NL Rookie of the Year catcher Buster Posey, who was injured earlier in the season in a nasty collision at the plate. Expect plenty of screen time for full-bearded closer Brian Wilson (and maybe his leather-clad friend “The Machine”).
Based on the Giants’ season so far, the series will offer plenty of on-the-field drama, too. At the All-Star break, the Giants were in first place in the NL West, thanks to a lot of late-inning heroics and comeback wins. Seven of their first 13 home wins were walk-offs.
Showtime aired a sneak preview of The Franchise in April, highlighted by the Giants’ championship ring ceremony and Sandoval’s effort to shed the weight that cost him his starting job last season.
The Franchise will undoubtedly draw comparisons with HBO’s acclaimed Hard Knocks series about NFL training camps. Hard Knocks is wildly successful because it tells compelling stories about players trying to make the roster in a short five-week timeframe. The Franchise is filmed over eight months, including spring training and the regular season up to the July 31 trade deadline. Will the long grind of a baseball season prove too much for this series to encapsulate? And the team’s biggest story — its quest for a repeat championship in October’s postseason — won’t even be seen.